Main Street - Northampton, MA
Contributed by Project for Public Spaces
A very pedestrian-friendly boulevard amidst an historic downtown.
What sets this street apart is the way pedestrians and vehicles co-exist peacefully, with neither element dominating the other. Although the street is rather wide (four lanes plus diagonal parking), the speed of vehicular traffic tends to be rather slow. In addition, there seems to be an acknowledgement amongst all users of the street that pedestrians have the right-of-way at all times. So, even though crosswalks are not especially abundant, people can cross the street at will without fear of being struck by a vehicle.
Since the volume of vehicular traffic is usually fairly high, the most surprising aspect of this street may be how the motorists don't seem to mind the preponderance of jaywalkers. You can spend an entire afternoon on Main Street without hearing a single honk.
Of course, there wouldn't be so many people crossing the street if there wasn't something drawing them to it in the first place. With its human-scaled environment, historic buildings, and inviting storefronts, Northampton's Main Street is a place that makes people want to stick around and explore.
History & Background