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Northampton, MA

Walk Friendly Communities - Bronze Level

Community Highlights

Northampton is designated as a Bronze-level community due to its excellent zoning practices, performance indicators, and enforcement practices that include dedicating staff time to enforcing traffic safety laws and facilitating safe pedestrian crossings. Highlights of Northampton’s application include:

  • Northampton has excellent policies about accessory dwelling units, density bonuses, and mixed use, which requires retail or commercial uses on the ground floor in the City’s business districts.
  • The Transportation section of the 2008 Sustainable Northampton Comprehensive Plan, includes many strategies, actions, and targets related to walkability. For example, the Plan goal to "Improve circulation system to accommodate development and encourage bicycle and pedestrian transit" has metrics such as the percent of the population able to get basic services without driving or bike paths/multi-use trails within a half-mile of 70 percent of households.
  • Police foot and bike patrols are focused in downtown and pay close attention to pedestrian safety on every shift, 365 days a year. There is also usually one car per shift that is focused specifically on traffic safety enforcement. This adds up to roughly 2-3 officers, every shift, all year round! Northampton also employs crossing guards at all of the community's elementary and middle schools. Crossing guard is a paid position and all guards are trained and supervised during their first week on the job by the school resource officer.
  • Northampton’s complete streets policy document, adopted in 2005, identifies the responsible agency for each item in the policy.
  • Northampton has 22.6 miles of trails, with another 12 miles planned or proposed. The City’s trail system does an excellent job of linking with destinations such as schools, shopping, and other amenities.
  • The Northampton Recreation Department offers a two week Safety Village summer program for kids ages 4-6. The program runs throughout the summer and educates children about bicycle and pedestrian safety, including crossing streets and navigating intersections. The program utilizes guest speakers from city departments and a mini replica of downtown Northampton.