Northampton’s Main Street is being redesigned
This is our generation’s ONE chance to transform & future proof our city center.
What’s this all about?
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
We are Northampton residents and downtown businesses, and we advocate for youth, the disabled, and a livable climate. We regard Main Street as our great public and economic center and view its redesign as a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
We arose because we felt the diversity of stakeholders were not sufficiently engaged in the redesign process, resulting in a poor range of redesign options.
As of early July 2021, Main Street for Everyone has garnered support from:
~53 downtown businesses 1100+ local petition signatures~45 active volunteers~
Steering Committee: David Ames~Kyra Anderson~Eric Boudreau~Kit Sang Boos~Michael Di Pasquale~Aimee Francaes~Jesse Hassinger~Elena Huisman~Alex Jarrett~Lilly Lombard~James Lowenthal~Joel Russell~Randy Sailer~Jes Slavin~Kristen Sykes~Ben Weil~Kelsey Wentling
Northampton commissions supporting one or more of MS4E design elements:
- Urban Forestry Commission–unanimous support of recommendation for a continuous canopy of street trees
- Northampton Youth Commission–unanimous support of all MS4E design recommendations
- Bike & Ped Subcommittee of the Transportation & Parking Commission–unanimous support of all MS4E design recommendations
- Energy and Sustainability Commission–support switching all angle parking to parallel to make more pedestrian and tree space
- Human Rights Commission–support for all parallel parking to make more pedestrian space
FIFTY THREE downtown businesses aligned with Main Street for Everyone!
A Notch Above, 200 Main St.
Absolute Zero Thai Rolled Ice Cream, 229 Main St.
Amanouz Cafe, 44 Main St.
The Backstop Seated Chair Massage, 150 Main St.
Balagan Cafe, 241 Main St.
Bela Vegetarian Restaurant, 68 Masonic St.
Belly of the Beast, 159 Main St.
Beth Pellettieri Life Coach, 16 Center St.
Birdhouse Music, 164 Main St.
Bombay Royale, 1 Roundhouse Plaza
Bottle-O, 166 King St.
Broadside Bookshop, 247 Main St.
Clinic Alternative Medicines, 98 Main St.
Collaborative Therapy & Coaching PLLC, 25 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.
Glamourama Hair Salon, 7 Old South 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
Inspirit Crystals, 219 Main St.
Jennifer Nery Acupuncture, 98 Main St. Suite 3
Joel Russell Associates, 16 Armory St.
Karuna Center for Yoga and Healing Arts, 25 Main St.
Lucky’s Tattoo and Piercing, 37 Main St.
Lynn Posner Rice Architect, 6 Crafts Ave.
Michael Grosso, Licenced Massage Therapist, 19 Center St.
Mosaic Cafe, 78 Masonic St.
Northampton Acupuncture, 16 Center St.
Northampton Chiropractic, 16 Center St.
Nourish Wellness Cafe, 10 Bridge St.
One Love, 18 Center St.
Oriental Taste, 41 Main St.
Pedal People Co-op, throughout Main St.
Pie in the Sky Berry Farm, 139 Fair St.
Pita Pockets, 193 Main St.
Pioneer Valley Food Tours, throughout Main St.
Pop’s Package, 20 Bridge St.
Provisions, 30 Crafts Ave.
Speed & Sprocket Cycle Works, throughout Main St.
The Roost, 1 Market St.
State Street Fruit Store, 51 State St.
Sticks and Bricks, 9 Market St.
Sutter Meats, 65 King St.
Transit Authority Figures, 38 Main St.
Turn It Up!, 5 Pleasant St.
T. Roots, 249 Main St.
We all know it’s a tough time to be a small business owner, and equally hard to be a community leader dealing with issues of urban design and impending climate change…
I’m writing to support Main Street For Everyone‘s agenda on expanding Alternative #3 on the downtown redesign.
We need MORE bike lanes. More room for public art. More room for planting trees!
We made it through the pandemic, but only by relying on Northampton’s awesome sense of community. The success of Hungry Ghost Bread’s honor system was proof of that: we handed people their loaves & asked them to pay online, later. It saved time, exposure, and it shared the burden of accounting. Everybody rose to the occasion!
Let’s rise to the occasion, again: this “once in a lifetime” chance tore-design our downtown can pivot away from the addiction to automobiles.Small storefront operations know they have to distinguish themselves from whatever consumers can order online. Equally important, they need to be part of a living, breathing public sphere that is NOT merely about the convenience of parking, running in and running out…
Our business is not on Main Street, it’s true. But we deal with a lot of the same issues, and are thriving. Our garden attracts people (and birds, and bees and rabbits). We’ve been here for 17 years, and I’ve lived in the Valley since 1981. I’ve seen a lot of changes, and am worried about the vitality of our town. We need to create a place that attracts people who stroll, eat, listen to live music, rent a bike and pedal around. That’s what cosmopolitan centers do.
I urge you to implement Main Street for Everyone’s improvements for Alternative #3.
Jonathan Stevens, Hungry Ghost Bread, 62 State St, Northampton
NORTHAMPTON ELECTORAL CANDIDATES SUPPORT OUR DESIGN RECOMMENDATIONS
“Of the options that were presented, I certainly am most in favor of Option 3 although I will say that this is a really important opportunity that we have and I think that we should be really brave and bold with this opportunity and this money. Beyond safety concerns, Northampton faces big challenges primarily because of how our retail economy has shifted from brick and mortar to online shopping. And so we really need to think about how we use public space and what brings people to downtown. Option 3 does retain angle parking which I know some people really are in favor of…I think that if we take into account how much the cars are changing and technology’s changing and can use that space more for people and prioritize the parking we retain for people who have mobility issues, that we can change how we approach downtown. We don’t want to redesign angle parking for 1918…we need to think for the present and the future and we need to think about accessibility for everybody. So I’d really like for us to be brave and bold with that plan”.
~ Gina-Louise Sciarra, Northampton At-Large Councilor, Mayoral Candidate (At 9/15 Candidate Forum, Minute 31:30)
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
“A recent meeting with the Main Street For Everyone team was very enlightening for me, and I admire and support their evidence-based ideas fully. I agree that Design Alternative #3 is a good starting point. But what modifications can be made to meet the priorities laid out for Northampton from the Picture Main Street survey? Having a green, tree-lined Main Street was the highest priority for the survey respondents while preserving existing parking was of least concern to them. I agree, a continuous canopy of trees would be a welcoming addition to our Main Street. Prioritizing parking for people with mobility issues, and short-term errand runners is something I agree with, and for those of us planning to stay in downtown longer, use the parking garage! Creating protected bike lanes with safe places to park your bike will encourage more people to ride downtown. Gaining safety and sidewalk space for pedestrians and outdoor dining by shifting from angle parking to parallel parking is another recommendation that I fully endorse. These are the no-brainers! Main Street for Everyone also proposes using this redesign opportunity to install a clean energy system for downtown. This is the sort of bold investment we need to exceed our goal of carbon-neutrality by 2050. These are well thought out focused ideas that work to achieve the vision our community wants!“
~Michael Quinlan, Northampton Ward 1 Councilor, Candidate for At-Large Councilor
“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, Northampton Candidate for Ward 4 City Councilor
“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
“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 At-Large 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 some of their people-oriented design recommendations would be the best course for the future of our city.”
~Michelle Serra, Northampton Candidate for At-Large 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 At-Large Councilor
Reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Picture Main Street survey results:
Respondents care about TREES, SAFETY, & VIBRANT SPACE most and ON-STREET PARKING and DRIVING DELAYS least.
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
- ADA compliant 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
Future-proof below the street by installing a clean energy District Energy System that moves us away from reliance on fracked gas. Watch MS4E’s Ben Weil present our proposal to the Northampton Energy & Sustainability Commission (Begin at Minute 21:00)
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 ADA compliant 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.
We support bold improvements to
Redesign Alternative #3
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: ADA compliant, 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.
- Northampton Neighbors Mayoral Candidates Forum, September 14, 2021 07:00-8:30 PM on Zoom (link here)
- Climate Action Now candidate forums prior to the primary elections during which we can expect the Main St redesign to focus prominently
- Tues. Sept 21, 7pm: At-large candidates’ forum
- Thursday Sept 23, 7pm: Mayoral candidates’ forum
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.
- Watch MS4E’s Ben Weil’s excellent presentation (beginning at Minute 5:40) regarding Main St parking/snow removal to the Transportation and Parking Commission meeting on 7/20.
- Watch Ben Weil propose installing a clean energy district heating system under Main Street (here at Minute 21:00)
- 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