Kenneth Albert: Remove Main Street bike lanes from downtown redesign

Published: 12/12/2021 10:43:46 AM
Modified: 12/12/2021 10:43:09 AM

I am a retired engineer and planner. I served as a consultant to municipalities in the state of New Jersey for over 30 years and worked on numerous downtown development issues before moving to Northampton.

Northampton’s downtown Main Street redesign program presents a difficult challenge with all of the competing demands — pedestrians, merchants, bikers, vehicular traffic and those seeking parking. Removing any of the demands should assist the designers in providing better solutions for the remaining constituent requirements and/or needs.

I suggest that Northampton re-examine the provision for bike lanes in the downtown area. Providing bike racks in strategic locations will allow those bikers traveling downtown to then walk from either end of the downtown and enjoy the downtown on foot. Bike lanes to bypass Main Street can be designed for those thru-bikers.

Removing bike lanes from Main Street will serve two purposes. It will eliminate the high incidence of crashes between cars, pedestrians and bikers as detailed in the report by the city of Northampton. Accordingly, 60% of all injuries on Main Street involve bikes.

Eliminating bike lanes will also allow for either widened sidewalks or much-needed additional traffic lanes depending on the parking configuration ultimately selected.

Bike lanes, given all of the conflicting traffic and pedestrian movements downtown, just do not make sense. It creates the perfect storm for accidents on a daily basis. To expect bikers to walk several blocks to their destination or to bypass Main Street seems to provide reasonable alternatives for a successful downtown redesign.

Kenneth Albert


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