By Jon Carnegie, June Greeman, and Jacob Thompson

Read Report


Over the past several years, several policy threads have gained prominence in New Jersey. These include adapting to climate change, advancing social justice, and addressing the needs of overburdened communities. In addition, the global COVID-19 pandemic’s disparate impacts on traditionally marginalized populations (low-income, Black and Brown communities, people with disabilities, and older adults) highlight the need to address mobility and accessibility issues more holistically. Finally, in the aftermath of the pandemic, Congress and President Biden came together to pass one of the most extensive and potentially transformative infrastructure funding bills that will distribute trillions of dollars to state and communities throughout the U.S. to make investments in broadband, transportation, water, and other infrastructure systems.

The 15-minute neighborhood concept gained visibility as the global pandemic demonstrated that local access to basic life needs is critically important. Fifteen-minute neighborhoods provide residents with easy access to parks, schools, gathering places, social services, places to buy healthy fresh food, and other amenities within a comfortable walk or bike ride. In more urbanized settings, 15-minute neighborhoods also provide residents with access to frequent and reliable public transit. Thriving 15-minute neighborhoods rely on not just desired destinations within a 15-minute walk or bike ride but also a safe, convenient, and climate resilient network of walkways, bicycle facilities, and the other amenities such as traffic calming, green infrastructure, lighting, and street furniture necessary to encourage people to drive less.

This new report, 15-Minute Neighborhoods: A Pathway to Creating Healthier, More Just, Resilient, & Sustainable Communities in New Jersey, was prepared by the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University for the New Jersey Climate Change Alliance and the NJ Climate Change Resource Center, the New Jersey State Policy Lab, and The Nature Conservancy. The report summarizes the results of a two-year planning and research study designed to investigate how a comprehensive, multi-goal planning and policy framework can be used to achieve carbon-neutral transportation choices that simultaneously support healthy, just, and resilient communities for all New Jersey residents.

For this study, Phase 1 research involved a comprehensive literature review that assessed the current state of knowledge and identified potential leading practices related to healthy communities, transportation equity and mobility justice, and climate resilience and green infrastructure, and also included an exploration of these topics from the perspective of national thought leaders. Phase 2 explored whether the 15-minute neighborhood planning model could be used in New Jersey to create healthier, more just, resilient, and sustainable communities.

To do this, the project team worked with three groups of urban planning graduate students and community leaders in three municipalities that exemplified New Jersey’s diverse landscape of urban, suburban, and rural place types. The three communities selected to be case studies were the City of Newark in Essex County, the Township of Cherry Hill in Camden County, and the City of Bridgeton in Cumberland County. In each location the teams worked with local leaders to identify ways to simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, make it easier to travel, improve health, increase transportation system efficiency, improve the resilience of communities and infrastructure, and ensure equitable mobility and access for residents. The local planning case studies were informed by the results of Phase 1 research, including stakeholder input from county visioning workshops.

On April 19th from 11:00am-12:30pm, join a virtual webinar with Jon Carnegie, Executive Director of the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center at Rutgers University, for a summary of this two-year study and the pertinent findings from the 15-Minute Neighborhoods report. Register for the webinar here.