Michael Gorra: What worked, didn’t about downtown experiment

  • Volunteer Melle Lowenthal, right, of Northampton helps paint a mural designed by artist Sean Greene of Florence onto the pavement on the eastbound side of upper Main Street in Northampton on Aug. 22, 2020, as part of the Shared Streets and Spaces program modifications. The changes include the addition of bike lanes and parallel parking spaces, separated by a row of planters, to both sides of Main Street.

Published: 9/14/2020 3:04:07 PM

The experiment of narrowing upper Main Street was worth trying, but I’m glad the city has brought it to an end.

With delivery trucks parked in the middle of the street, the road became uncomfortably tight. Parallel parking and even opening one’s door felt risky with other cars passing so closely by, and visibility at some crosswalks was seriously reduced, especially at the intersection of Main and Masonic.

But I hope the city will make the rest of the changes to downtown permanent, or at least a regular feature of the warm months. Eating outside on lower Main Street has been a joy this summer. That part of the street is less heavily trafficked and the concentration of restaurants turns the space festive.

It humanizes the street, it makes people want to go downtown. I can say the same about the outdoor seating on Strong Avenue and Masonic Street. So much of downtown’s health depends on our restaurants — let’s give them the change they want.

Michael Gorra


Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


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