Transportation can be one route towards better health. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation kickstarted this thinking when they funded New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids to address social determinants of better health in Camden.
The funding coincided with the City of Camden’s complete streets policy requiring municipal road projects to accommodate pedestrians, bicyclists, transit riders, drivers and people of all ages and abilities.
One notable initiative was the four-month bike share pilot program, which made bicycling an affordable, convenient, and fun way for residents and visitors to get around the city.
“The Bike-share pilot had huge momentum,” said Valeria Galarza, Senior Project Manager at Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. “Based on that success, we determined we needed to develop a robust plan to get people to move more and improve access to transportation to advance health outcomes.” The City of Camden is considering a few ideas, such as:
Make Bike Sharing a Permanent Fixture. The pilot study concluded that Camden is ready for a bike share program. The next step is to partner with a new bike share provider and consider a regional approach.
Use Transportation to Better Connect Residents to Health Care Services. Conduct a health and transportation study to develop strategies that make it easier for residents to access health care and wellness opportunities. Strategies might include identifying residents with mobility issues and chronic diseases and marshalling support from all transportation providers, including ride share providers, to address those needs.
Pilot Changes in a Neighborhood. Based on resident feedback, identify simple improvements to accommodate residents such as: better signage, clearly marking walking and biking paths, integration of driving services, additional bus stops, etc. Then make those improvements in one area and evaluate the results.