Healthier New Yorkers Through Better Streets

Safer Streets Helping to Create Healthier New Yorkers

Across New York, there is a dedicated group of community champions on a mission to help build resilient and livable communities – one street at a time. Whether it is to be physically active, energize a community, reduce costs associated with travel, or make it easier to get to work, New Yorkers are asking for safer and more accessible streets – also referred to as “Complete Streets.”

From policy development to implementation, Complete Streets are a priority of Creating Healthy Schools and Communities (CHSC), a New York State Department of Health funded initiative which aims to create places that support healthy behaviors. The Living Your Fullest Everyday (LYFE) coalition, a 75-organization collaborative led by Nepperhan Community Center and Yonkers YMCA members, 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 approximately 200,000 residents to walk and bike through their neighborhoods. In an effort to increase usability and safety of their streets, the LYFE coalition hosted listening sessions to engage community members in creating actionable steps for making the streets inviting to all users. On September 27th, 2016, the City Council approved a Complete Streets Policy making a more resilient and livable Yonkers a reality.

Efforts to support safer more accessible streets aren’t just happening in urban communities; CHSC is supporting rural areas like Franklin County in upstate New York. Malone, tucked in the rolling fields between Canada and the Adirondacks is the home of approximately 15,000 people. CHSC funds have not only supported Malone community members and staff to develop policies, they have leveraged close to $1.35 million in additional grant dollars to construct and improve the walkways and sidewalks!

“By improving roadway safety and increasing access to healthy transportation alternatives, we are providing both residents and visitors a chance to experience the state’s natural beauty like never before, while supporting a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.” (Noted Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, The Malone Telegram, April 20, 2017)

Better, more “complete” streets include proper sidewalks, bike lanes, and crosswalks, and help prevent up to 90% of crashes that occur alongside roadways. Building this type of infrastructure not only provides opportunities for residents to be more physically active, it 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 cars have on the roads and benefits the environment. And, repairing sidewalks and bike lanes is much cheaper than fixing roads and highways. Any costs saved can be used for other improvements in the community.

In part due to the CHSC initiative and the efforts of dedicated community champions, there are 39 Complete Streets policies in CHSC communities, with 16 of these policies having been passed since the initiative started in October, 2015. These policies are providing increased health, safety, and economic benefits to nearly 10 million New Yorkers.

Posted: March 15, 2018

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