Northampton’s Main Street is being redesigned
This is our generation’s ONE chance to transform & future proof our city center.
In preparing for a major reconstruction of Northampton’s Main Street to address significant safety issues, the City of Northampton has selected Redesign Alternative #3 as its preferred design. (Details of Alternative #3 found here.)
Main Street For Everyone advocates for improving Redesign Alternative #3 to better address our safety, health, accessibility and economic needs, and to meet our accelerating climate crisis. Read our Vision Statement and Design Recommendations below.
Who We Are
Main Street for Everyone is a diverse group of Northampton voices who value our downtown as a great public space and who recognize our climate emergency.
We are renters and owners, business owners and employees, urban design professionals, engineers, landscape architects, bicycle advocates, disability rights advocates, youth advocates, climate activists, car drivers and cyclists, elderly users of downtown, parents, and children. Our vision is shared by a growing number of people and forward-thinking groups including:
- MassBike~Friends of Northampton Trails~Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence Climate Action Group~Northampton Youth Commission~Climate Action Now Western MA~MA Sierra Club
OVER THIRTY downtown businesses aligned with Main Street for Everyone!
Absolute Zero Thai Rolled Ice Cream, 229 Main St.
Amanouz Cafe, 44 Main St.
Balagan Cafe, 241 Main St.
Bela Vegetarian Restaurant, 68 Masonic St.
Belly of the Beast, 159 Main St.
Bottle-O, 166 King St.
Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main St.
Clinic Alternative Medicines, 98 Main St.
Cornucopia Natural Wellness Market, 150 Main St.
Dirty Truth, 29 Main St.
Dobra Tea, 186 Main St.
Downtown Sounds Workers Co-op, 21 Pleasant St.
Familiars Coffee & Tea, 6 Strong Ave.
Fly By Night, 21 State St.
Grow Food Northampton/Tuesday Market, 1 Kirkland Ave.
Haymarket Cafe, 185 Main St.
Heavenly Chocolate, 150 Main St.
Hungry Ghost Bread, 62 State St.
Iconica Social Club, 1 Amber Lane
Jennifer Nery Acupuncture, 98 Main St. Suite 3
Lucky’s Tattoo and Piercing, 37 Main St.
Nourish Wellness Cafe, 10 Bridge St.
Oriental Taste, 41 Main St.
Pedal People Co-op, throughout Main St.
Pie in the Sky Berry Farm, 139 Fair St
Pioneer Valley Food Tours, throughout Main St.
Sticks and Bricks, 9 Market St.
Sutter Meats, 65 King St.
The Roost, 1 Market St.
Turn It Up!, 5 Pleasant St.
T. Roots, 249 Main St.
“I am grateful to Main Street for Everyone for taking the conversation further in reimagining the heart of our city. Yes to a tree canopy! Yes to a people-centered, climate-friendly Main Street Redesign that will promote Northampton as a destination, bolstering our beloved downtown businesses. This is Northampton’s big chance to create the downtown of our dreams–one that reflects the values of our community with an eye towards our future.” ~Rachel Maoire, Northampton Ward 7 Councilor
“I watched Main Street for Everyone’s presentation to the Northampton Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee this morning…I support MS4E’s recommendations to take Northampton’s current plan for reimagining Main Street even further. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make our downtown a truly sustainable, safe, and just plain nice place to live, visit and work now and in the future. As City Councilor I’d work to make not just the current plan a reality, but push to make it even better with creative ideas like these.” ~Marissa Elkins, Northampton Candidate for Councilor At-Large
“I’m happy to support Main Street for Everyone’s work for more shade trees, outdoor dining and park space, and safe travel by all modes to make Main Street a destination that will thrive through the economic and climate challenges to come.” ~Alex Jarrett, Northampton Ward 5 Councilor
“Main Street is vital to a vibrant and attractive Northampton and our Main Street design should reflect the diverse needs of all who visit our great little city!” ~Jamila Gore, Northampton Candidate for Councilor At-Large
“When I picture the future of Main Street, I envision a true heart of the city that has set a priority toward the changing world – one that is built for everyone in our community, protecting pedestrians and bicyclists, providing significant greenspace for shade, aesthetics, and the environment, and prioritizes disabled parking, commercial loading, and short-term parking.”~Jesse Hassinger, Co-owner, Belly of the Beast, Northampton Candidate for Ward 4 City Councilor
“I am grateful for the work of Main Street for Everyone, and support their vision for a more sustainable downtown. This group has done their research, and has gained support from an impressive number of small businesses. I believe that adopting their people-oriented design recommendations would be the best course for the future of our city. ~ Michelle Serra, Northampton Candidate for City Councilor At-Large
Reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We support bold improvements to
Redesign Alternative #3
Our Vision for Main Street, Northampton
A safe, accessible, spacious, and green public space designed to:
- Attract a diversity of people to shop, dine, socialize, seek and provide services, and engage in civic activity
- Reduce heat trapping pollution that is driving our climate crisis
- Strengthen our resilience to the local impacts of climate change such as extreme heat, poor air quality, and severe storms
Our Design Recommendations
Further shrink the automobile footprint in Redesign Alternative #3 to gain space for people and green infrastructure:
- Replace all on-street angle parking with parallel parking and target on-street parking primarily for vehicles requiring direct access to Main Street:
- service/loading zones
- handicap parking
- 15-minute parking
- Install a continuous canopy of shade trees along entire street edge
- Incorporate left turn lanes as needed along Main Street rather than create a continuous, center lane
SPACE FOR PEOPLE AND TREES: Main Street must be accessible for everyone! That means improved accessibility features, better parking management, and safer facilities for people coming by car, bus, bike, or on foot. That’s why we ask for wider sidewalks, a dedicated bike path, a switch to parallel parking and a continuous tree canopy. Increased space for people and trees means more space for accessibility features, outdoor dining, sidewalk sales, bus boarding areas, tree canopy, and civic life.
SAFE: Main Street is currently unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians and is one of the top crash clusters in the entire Commonwealth. Angled parking is less safe than parallel parking–over the last decade, there were 37% more crashes in the angled parking sections of Main Street compared to the parallel parking sections. Shorter crosswalks enabled by fewer car lanes reduces the dangers for pedestrians and wheelchair users. A dedicated protected bike lane will make Main Street safe for cyclists who currently risk injury and death when they ride into or through downtown.
CLIMATE SMART: The calming, cooling, and protective benefits to tree-lined streets are well documented. A continuous tree canopy helps address our current climate emergency and transforms Main Street to a more beautiful and welcoming city center. A wider sidewalk and pedestrian zone provides the needed space for a healthy tree canopy to survive for the rest of the century. The more people access downtown without a car, the lower our collective carbon emissions.
ACCESSIBLE: Full accessibility is more than parking! Most of our current sidewalk infrastructure is not accessible or easy to navigate by wheelchair-users and the visually impaired. Building truly accessible street side infrastructure requires additional width–for ramps that are compliant to ADA guidelines, that allow for passing, for bus loading and unloading zones, and for pathways to get from handicapped accessible on-street parking to the sidewalk. By reducing the cross-section of the street dedicated to cars, we regain that space to dedicate to making downtown accessible.
ECONOMICALLY COMPETITIVE: Bike lanes and wider sidewalks increase safe foot traffic! The overwhelming evidence from studies all over North America shows that redesigning streets to improve pedestrian and bicycle access improves the business climate. Increased foot traffic results in increased sales. We want to support our local business by making them accessible to everyone!
WHAT ABOUT PARKING? We have plenty of downtown parking! We can assure parking availability with better parking management. Any reduction of parking spaces on Main Street will affect less than 2 percent of the total parking downtown. The more walkable, safe, and pleasant we make downtown for pedestrians, the more convenient it will be to use our existing garage, with elevators and ADA compliant parking spaces. The garage is only at capacity a few hours per year.
Every person who arrives by bike or on foot means less competition for parking on Main Street. Many people who live in Leeds, Florence, and Easthampton would like to use the bike trails that lead to downtown Northampton for most of their trips to downtown. However, they do not feel safe riding their bikes on Main Street, so they come by car. If we make Main Street safe for cyclists, there will be more parking available.
WHAT ABOUT CAR TRAFFIC? Detailed studies using real-time data have shown no statistically significant differences in travel speed between parallel and angled parking. Studies of the traffic flow on Main Street have shown that the number of lanes has no impact on traffic flow, due to the poor signal timing at the major intersections. Increased downtown travel by bike, foot, and bus will additionally reduce traffic on Main Street.
We need a safer, greener, fairer, economically strong Main Street, a safe, welcoming hub of commerce and community for all.
A bold redesign of Main Street is good for business
Review of 23 studies indicates that creating or improving sidewalks and bike lanes has positive or non-significant economic impacts on retail and food service businesses abutting or near facilities. Jamey M. B. Volker & Susan Handy (2021) “Economic impacts on local businesses of investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure: a review of the evidence”, Transport Reviews, DOI: 10.1080/01441647.2021.1912849.
Tree lined streets experience 12% more sales than non-tree lined streets. Wolf, K. L. 2009. “Trees Mean Business: City Trees and the Retail Streetscape,” Main Street News 263: 1-9.
What About Parking?
→ We have ample, affordable, convenient parking! The City’s downtown parking garage is below capacity 99% of the time, and free for the 1st hour. Let’s do better at directing people to existing parking!
→ Angled parking dangerous! Angled parking is responsible for 37% more collisions than parallel parking.
→ Studies show that parking type does NOT affect traffic speeds.
→ Main Street parking represents only 8.8% of downtown’s overall public parking. Let’s orient it toward uses that require proximity to Main Street businesses: Handicap accessible, commercial loading & service, short-term customer parking (such as carry-out pick up).
Humphreys, J.B., Box, P.C., Sullivan, T.D., and Wheeler, D.J. (1978) ‘‘Safety aspects of curb parking.’’ Rep. No. FHWA-RD-79- 76, Federal Highway Administration, Washington, D.C.
To survive and thrive, Main Street must be accessible to everyone!
NOTE: There is a petition currently circulating about Main Street’s “accessibility” that we counter point by point, and we encourage you to read & share our fact-rich response.
- Thursday, June 24, 6pm – Attend the next Picture Main Street public forum (Zoom link here) and speak in support of our design recommendations.
- Friday, June 25, 5pm – Strawberry Moon Bike Ride to Pie in the Sky Berry Farm! This is a family-friendly ride from Northampton High School where you’ll ride along Main Street to Pie in the Sky Berry Farm for organic strawberry picking. (Rain Date: 6/26, 5pm)
Other Ways to Help
- Join us! Complete the form below and we’ll send out volunteer opportunities and notices of upcoming meetings & events.
- Encourage Northampton neighbors & friends to join our actions, and direct all folks who care about the future of Northampton to MainSt4Everyone.org.
- Email the Mayor (email@example.com) in support of the vision & design recommendations of Main Street For Everyone.
- Visit the Picture Main Street Story Map
- The health costs of climate change and air pollution are more than $820 billion per year.
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Main Street’s redesign needs to be more progressive, forward-thinking
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: ‘Most of us want the same thing’ downtown
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Designing Main Street for this future
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Group proposes alternative to Northampton mayor’s Main Street plan
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Reimagine our Main Street
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Downtown Business Owners Envisioning a More Robust Main Street:
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Parking on Main Street
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Rail trails will play key role in redesign
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Make Downtown Safe For All
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: Northampton Main Street redesign a ‘once in a generation’ chance
- Daily Hampshire Gazette: A future downtown with fewer cars
- Learn more about the economic benefits of shared streets
- Benefits of Urban Street Trees
- MassBike: Should Business Make Way for Bicycles? A Guest Post by Florence High Schooler Zach O’Brien
- New York Times: If You Build It, They Will Bike: Pop-Up Lanes Increased Cycling During Pandemic
- Portland State University: Portland State Study Finds Bike Lanes Provide Positive Economic Impact