Improving Rural Transportation to Improve Rural Health
Building Healthy Communities
October 1, 2019
Clinton County is the only community among NYHealth’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, NYHealth 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 implemented Complete Streets policies county-wide and created 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 worked together to provide guidance for the implementation of Complete Streets to all municipalities in Clinton County. Complete Streets is a widely enacted policy that implemented transportation improvements such as establishing bike lanes, painting and repairing crosswalks, and established bus-only lanes to enable safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders. CCHD educated policymakers and residents on Complete Streets concepts, collaborated with local engineering firms to create formal plans for safer urban designs, and provided technical assistance on how to draft Complete Streets resolutions and policies. Additionally, CCHD provided 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 also partnered with CCPT to create a sustainable promotional plan to boost public perception of the rural transit system. The plan aimed to correct misconceptions related to rider demographics, enhance the public image of CCPT, and increase overall ridership. Through this project, CCHD and its partners took a coordinated approach to improve effective, safe transportation for residents of Clinton County to engage in healthy behaviors.