Julia Riseman: Make downtown safe for all

Published: 5/23/2021 1:00:13 PM

Main Street, Northampton is dangerous. My friend and neighbor nearly died when a car, trying to avoid a pedestrian crossing Main Street and Elm, sideswiped her bicycle, sending her flying over the handlebars.

She is one of the many “non-fatal” crashes for which Northampton downtown is notorious in our state. A Road Safety Audit conducted over a two-year period closely studied the 167 reported crashes that occurred along a half-mile stretch of Main Street. Thankfully, no one died. But 22% of those crashes involved injuries. Some of them as serious and life-altering as my dear friend’s.

The citizens of Northampton have three proposals presented to us to redesign our Main Street. The first two plans maintain the most dangerous elements of Main Street, but have the loudest voices advocating for them. Design Alternative #3 is currently the safest option, but I think it needs to go further to address parking along Main Street.

All traffic crashes are preventable, and a redesign that makes safety its top priority is the first step to ending crashes on Main Street. Your help is needed right now to create the political will to realize a downtown that is safe for everyone. Would you please join me by contacting your city councilors and the mayor of Northampton, and share with them what you think? We need your voice on this important topic. Speak up now before it is too late, and we have another 100 years of our downtown causing preventable damage, injuries, and deaths.

Julia Riseman



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