In the Press
Healthier New Yorkers through Better Streets
June 4, 2017
Across New York, a group of community champions is on a mission to help build resilient and livable communities, one street at a time. Encouraging physical activity, revitalizing neighborhoods, reducing costs associated with travel, and making it easier to get to work, are all goals of “Complete Streets.”
From policy development to implementation, Complete Streets is a priority of Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC), a JSI, New York State Department of Health (DOH), and grantees initiative to create places that support healthy behaviors.
In October 2015, the New York State Department of Health launched a $6.7 million CHSC initiative to combat obesity and other chronic diseases in high-need communities. The DOH hired JSI to manage the Obesity Prevention Center for Excellence (OPCE), which supports the grantees' efforts to increase access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity in NY school districts and surrounding communities.
The Living Your Fullest Everyday (LYFE) coalition, a 75-organization collaborative led by Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers YMCA, is among the 25 teams across New York taking part in this initiative. Many streets in Yonkers are unsafe and inaccessible, making it unappealing and even impossible for its approximately 200,000 residents to walk or bike through their neighborhoods. The LYFE coalition hosted listening sessions to involve community members in process of making their streets inviting. On September 27th, 2016, the City Council approved a Complete Streets Policy to make a more resilient and livable Yonkers a reality.
These efforts are not limited to urban communities. JSI is also supporting rural areas like upstate Franklin County, where the town of Malone, tucked in the rolling fields between Canada and the Adirondacks, is home to 15,000 people. CHSC funding and resources have supported Malone community members and officials to develop policies and plans, and enhance internal capacity to address Complete Streets. This put the community in a position to apply for additional grants dollars, of which they secured around $1.35 million, to construct and improve walkways and sidewalks.
Better, more “complete” streets include proper sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks that help prevent up to 90% of crashes that occur along roadways. Building this type of infrastructure gives residents opportunities to be more physically active and creates local jobs and stimulates the economy. With the Adirondacks at Malone’s doorstep, more walkable and bikeable streets will help connect trail-goers to local restaurants, entertainment, and shops. Getting people out of cars not only helps them to save money on gas, it lessens the wear and tear that cars have on the roads, and benefits the environment. Further, repairing sidewalks and bike lanes is much cheaper than fixing roads and highways, and cost savings can be used for other improvements in the community.