Improving Rural Transportation to Improve Rural Health
Building Healthy Communities
October 1, 2019
Clinton County is the only community among NYSHealth’s Healthy Neighborhoods Fund grantees that is a rural community.
Residents must travel farther for everything: school, health care, exercise, food, and social activities. Long distances, limited rural transit options, and unsafe routes make movement in and around Clinton County difficult for residents and are major obstacles for low-income residents of rural communities to be healthy. In Clinton County, the number of residents who rely on alternative modes of transportation and those who have access to a large grocery store have both significantly worsened since 2010, according to the New York State Department of Health. In 2019, NYSHealth awarded the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) a grant to help Clinton County residents access newly activated spaces and food hubs throughout the county to improve their health.
Under this grant, CCHD will implement Complete Streets policies county-wide and create a promotional plan for the county’s public transportation system as a way for residents to access opportunities to be healthier. CCHD and the Clinton County Planning Department will work together to provide guidance for the implementation of Complete Streets to all municipalities in Clinton County. Complete Streets is a widely enacted policy that implements transportation improvements such as establishing bike lanes, painting and repairing crosswalks, and establishing bus-only lanes to enable safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. CCHD will educate policymakers and residents on Complete Streets concepts, collaborate with local engineering firms to create formal plans for safer urban designs, and provide technical assistance on how to draft Complete Streets resolutions and policies. Additionally, CCHD will provide technical assistance to the Clinton County Public Transit (CCPT) system to enhance its public visibility and the use of public transportation as a way for residents to access trails, parks, farmers markets, and other healthy places in the community. CCHD will also partner with CCPT to create a sustainable promotional plan to boost public perception of the rural transit system. The plan aims to correct misconceptions related to rider demographics, enhance the public image of CCPT, and increase overall ridership. Through this project, CCHD and its partners will take a coordinated approach to improve effective, safe transportation for residents of Clinton County to engage in healthy behaviors.