Melissa Greenspan: Can’t imagine walking or biking to downtown

Published: 08-23-2023 7:00 AM

I have been reading with interest the pro and con letters about Northampton’s Main Street redesign. I feel compelled to respond to the Aug. 17 guest column [“Main Street redesign part of the solution,”] which states (in part) that “nearly 30% of residents live within one mile of downtown and 54% live within four miles. Imagine the majority of those people accessing shops and restaurants by foot and bike.”

It seems preposterous to me that the majority of people within four miles of downtown will start accessing it by foot or bike. I love to walk and bike and do both frequently. I also live about 2½ miles from downtown. Given the lack of sidewalks and consequent unsafe nature of walking and the frequent speeding and narrow shoulders which leads to unsafe biking for about half of my trip, I cannot imagine traveling to downtown to access shops or restaurants by walking or biking. Remember also, that if you walk downtown, you will also need to walk back. It is a rare person who will walk an eight-mile round trip to buy bread, go to a restaurant, etc. Of course the climate crisis is an immense concern and we need to do whatever we can to minimize it. However, we need realistic solutions that work.

Melissa Greenspan

Florence

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