October 30, 2017
Rebecca Perkins, Healthier Somerset
Healthier Somerset is a longtime advocate for Complete Streets, a New Jersey Department of Transportation program that supports roadways designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities.
“Complete” streets encourage physical activity by making it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. Instituting a complete streets policy ensures that agencies routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users.
Bridgewater recently passed a resolution of support for Complete Streets, becoming the 11th municipality in Somerset County to do so. Bridgewater joins Bedminster, Bound Brook, Bridgewater, Hillsborough, Manville, Millstone, Montgomery, North Plainfield, Raritan and Somerville. Healthier Somerset applauds them for their action!
In October 2016, the Somerset County Board of Freeholders became the eighth county in New Jersey to enact a resolution in support of Complete Streets. Somerset County has demonstrated their active support for Complete Streets with a seminar held last year for municipal officials featuring planning officials from NJDOT and the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
Grant supports Complete Streets
Healthier Somerset has supported Complete Streets with funding from a two-year, $20,000 grant from New Jersey Healthy Communities Network that focuses on increased physical activity through Complete Streets. Through this grant and a previous one-year $10,000 grant, Healthier Somerset has purchased bike racks for municipalities that have adopted Complete Streets. Townships may also opt to use the grant money for other transportation-related projects that encourage physical activity.
Partners participating in the grant are Bridgewater Department of Health, EmPOWer Somerset, Middle-Brook Regional Health Commission and Morris-Somerset Regional Chronic Disease and Cancer Coalition.
Aiding economic development
Healthier Somerset knows, as do Somerset County officials, that enacting the resolution is only the first step to integrating the policy into future planning decisions. Somerset County’s Division of Planning works closely with Healthier Somerset and is helping to align our activities with the Regional Center Partnership (Somerville, Raritan and Bridgewater).
Exercise and physical activity are not only essential components of a healthy lifestyle, they are also key elements in Somerset County’s outstanding quality of life and are a major attraction for tourism and economic development. With the support and participation of the Somerset County Business Partnership, they have forged an alliance that brings health-focused planning to transportation and economic development in Somerset County.
The adoption of Complete Streets is a vital element in Somerset County’s goal to be the healthiest county in New Jersey. With more than half of Somerset County municipalities now supporting Complete Streets, they urge the remaining municipalities to join them and make Somerset County a full Complete Streets county.
Visit www.healthiersomerset.org for more information, and like them on Facebook and follow on Twitter at #HealthierSCNJ.