Recently, a Transportation Survey was promoted as part of the effort to understand citizen concerns over traffic and lack of public transportation options in Bedford. Over 250 people responded to the survey where they identified transportation needs, obstacles to public transit use, desired destinations and features, and likelihood of household use. Summary of the data states that 73% of survey respondents said that members of their household would “very likely” or “most likely” use additional public transportation. Most commonly identified transportation needs were to commute to work, to access recreational activities, and to reach Town Center/Campus locations. The most desired public transit characteristics identified were flexibility, service from home to work, and ease of arranging. Survey respondents reported the top obstacles to utilizing public transit were inconvenience, proximity to home, and destination.
Funded through the Northwest Suburban Health Alliance/ CHNA 15 DoN, or “Determination of Need,” funds from Lahey Clinic, Winchester Hospital, and Mount Auburn Hospital, Healthy Bedford is attempting to synthesize community needs and desires and his is the second phase of our community-driven health impact assessment/planning process.
The first phase of the process involved residents identifying what impacts their health, the positives and the obstacles – with a focus on the wider social determinants of health. Bedford used the WHO definition of health which identifies health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. TAHB invited those who live and work in Bedford to answer the questions: “What is the one factor in Bedford that most impacts your quality of life in a positive way?” And “What is the one biggest challenge you face in Bedford that interferes with your quality of life?” Bedford residents resoundingly answered “Community” as the most often cited positive factor, closely followed by "Trails" and "Nature." As for the obstacle most often cited, well, that would be “Traffic” followed by “Lack of Sidewalks” and “Lack of Public Transportation”. A number of residents also cited “Affordability”.
The next stage in the initial process was community engagement. We spoke with stakeholders to sift through the results and comments offered by Bedford residents. We connected with partners to hear different voices and viewpoints, with the intention to promote dialogue among committees, departments and residents. Ultimately we our hope was to identify and synthesize our assets as well as to brainstorm possible “do-able” solutions to make Bedford a healthier place to live and work.
In November 2013, the Healthy Bedford Task Force learned that planning efforts of the last 18 months had been successful. The Northwest Suburban Health Alliance/ CHNA 15 DoN, or “Determination of Need,” funds from Lahey Clinic, Winchester Hospital, and Mount Auburn Hospital, announced that Healthy Bedford was awarded $25,000 in funds for the Implementation portion of their planning efforts. Healthy Bedford proposed to utilize the results from the “Towards a Healthier Bedford” Planning process to address transportation related concerns in the community as that was the #1 problem identified in surveys, focus groups, and conversation throughout the planning period.
To address those transportation related concerns Healthy Bedford proposed two projects. One is development of a Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan (PMP) for the community to address walkability issues, specifically lack of sidewalks in certain areas and lack of connectivity via trails or paths from outlying parts of town. The other project is to research and seek funding for a circulator bus or some sort of fixed route local transit to enhance access around Bedford and decrease congestion and the use of the private automobile.
Healthy Bedford is moving ahead researching both of these topics, synthesizing needs and desires, connecting with town leadership and will continue to seek citizen input and participation as we go forward. We are asking everyone's input in our Pedestrian/Bicycle Master Plan Process.
Curious to know more about health and longevity? Check out two well known experts:
Mark Fenton: America's Walking: Walking and Biking around DC:
Mark Fenton presented to Bedford Leadership in May. See his slideshow on Healthy Bedford by Design Here
View the presentation on Youtube here.
Phase One of Campus Community Garden Project! Through a donation from the Bedford Rotary, and combined efforts of the Council on Aging, Bedford Department of Public Health, Healthy Bedford and community volunteers, we are starting a Garden Project - Stay tuned for Phase II, Table Top Gardening. This container, and its twin can be seen outside the COA entrance.