Improving Transportation Access and Mobility for Plainfield Residents

NJHI 2016: Building a Culture of Health in New Jersey – Communities Moving to Action, Round 2 Healthy Plainfield

Transportation is essential to activities such as accessing medical care, doing basic shopping, obtaining an education, getting to work and socializing. Transportation options heavily rely on the opportunities provided by an interconnected system intended to mobilize people from one place to another. This transport system can greatly expand or limit opportunities available to people based on where they live, especially among low-income communities who often are left without easy access to jobs, goods, and services. This means the unequal distribution of travel resources, including car ownership, access to public transit, bike lanes, sidewalks or other forms of transportation requires a focus on the demand for transportation and the mobility needs of all residents. For that reason, enhancing the visibility and accessibility to transportation options in our community may help reduce levels of inequality by enhancing an individual’s freedom, and ultimately promoting equitable transportation opportunities for all.

Understanding the value of easy access to transportation options for all, the City of Plainfield has been making strides toward addressing inequities in transport. As an example, in 2018 the City of Plainfield partnered with LimeBike to provide 250 bikes to Plainfield residents. This program allows residents to use a bike without having to return it to a docking station. A LimeBike ride costs about $1.00, or $0.50 for students, per 30-minute time block for the classic pedal bikes, or $1.00 to unlock the electric fleet, all of which could help reduce transportation costs for residents. The commitment to improving access to transportation by all its residents has become a priority city-wide, starting with the City’s leadership.

“Plainfield is a progressive city and the administration willingly embraces and seeks programs that offer innovative options for our residents,” Plainfield Mayor Adrian Mapp said about the initiative. “Our diverse population has varying needs and the goal is to provide solutions that can benefit everyone. Limebike is a unique answer to the transportation issues faced by some residents. It is a healthy, green alternative and we are excited to move ahead.”

Mayor Mapp is a strong supporter of providing residents with more options for transportation. In fact, he is an avid proponent of alternative, greener forms of transportation such as Limebikes, a NJ-Transit one-seat ride option to New York City, electric vehicles, and car sharing.

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Moreover, his commitment to safer pedestrian accessibility is evidenced by new sidewalk crossings and building ramps. “I believe that we must have a holistic approach when it comes to Plainfield’s growth,” said Mayor Mapp. “That means, as our city grows through new development projects and downtown revitalization initiatives, the quality of life of every resident should also get better. It’s called livability, and it is the driving force behind the Healthy Plainfield collaboration and several other programs we have implemented to ensure that our community thrives in every area of their lives.” As noted by his words, Mayor Mapp is committed to mobilizing resources that can help ease access to transportation options for all residents in the City of Plainfield.

Using innovative alternatives, working together with other organizations, offering free resources and educating the community about available resources are some of the ways the of City of Plainfield is working to ensure that all of its residents have equal access to its various types of transportation services. For instance, in the spring of 2019, the Healthy Plainfield coalition, the City of Plainfield, United Way of Greater Union County, and the Grotta Fund for Senior Care collaborated to host a Transportation Fair in the community. This event brought speakers and vendors to inform Plainfield residents about the various public transportation options including walking, biking, and driving in the City of Plainfield. In addition to the information and resources, participants received a free transportation booklet that outlines the various commuting options, key points of interest, and mobile applications that can assist people with travel planning. The transportation booklet was developed in collaboration with the Rutgers New Jersey Travel Independence Program (NJTIP), Healthy Plainfield and the City of Plainfield. Additional resources that people can use to find the convenient transportation options were also mentioned at the event. Some of these resources include nonprofit organizations such as NJ Find-A-Ride, which is managed by NJ 2-1-1 Partnership and the United Way. NJ Find-A-Ride is a free online directory of public and accessible transportation options for those who do not own a car.

The Healthy Plainfield coalition and our partners strongly believe that informing all residents about their trip planning and transportation resources can greatly assist with their mobility, access to goods and services, as well as their overall well-being. As our collaborative effort to promote awareness about transportation services in Plainfield continues, all community members are invited to join this effort. Monthly meetings are held to discuss this and other initiatives every second Wednesday of the month at the Plainfield Family Success Center. We are also planning a training for seniors about transportation access that will be held at the Plainfield Senior Center. Connect with our project directors to partner in this work.

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Tania Guaman
United Way of Greater Union County