Tag Archives: walkability

Things are looking up downtown–now city leaders need to step up

Tower at Lofts at Mill No. 1 – photo from Brady Sullivan

For the first time in its 175-year history, high-end apartments have found a home in the Amoskeag Millyard. New coffee shops and upscale lunch spots have popped up along the riverfront in the Millyard and on Elm Street. The Manchester Food Co-op is moving closer to opening a community-owned natural grocery store downtown. Hippo de Mayo, which has quickly become one of downtown’s biggest events of the year, is just a month away. And the mayor is even talking about the prospects of a downtown movie theater.

Before the new guiding plan for downtown is released, some of the things envisioned at February’s Next Steps Summit are coming to fruition. The summit, attended by over 100 people, sought community input as Intown Manchester prepares to draft a plan to guide the growth of downtown in the coming years. Housing was touted as a catalyst for future growth downtown, and for helping the area grow beyond its dining, nightlife and entertainment base.

As one of the city’s major developers, Arthur Sullivan of Brady Sullivan, said: “Once more people start living downtown again, you are going to see a downtown renaissance, and it won’t just be restaurants.

Continue reading Things are looking up downtown–now city leaders need to step up

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According to the Union Leader, City police are beginning an education campaign aimed at jaywalkers and motorists. They’ll be stopping drivers and pedestrians who violate the state’s crosswalk laws, but issuing educational information rather citations at first:

New Hampshire law provides that cars have to stop or slow down when a person in a crosswalk is on the vehicle’s half of the road. But the law also says a pedestrian can’t step off the curb and create an “immediate hazard.”

It’s a smart campaign to increase safety and walkability in the city. That’s good for pedestrians, as well as as businesses, as the strength of Downtown–an city center neighborhoods–depends on people feeling comfortable walking around.

“In Concord, they stop for people in crosswalks; that’s not happening in Manchester,” [Mayor Ted] Gatsas said recently.

Hopefully this campaign will change that, and make Manchester an even more pedestrian-friendly city. Streets are obviously used by cars, but motorists aren’t the only ones with rights to the road. This campaign should make the streets safer and more comfortable for motorists and pedestrians alike.

Next, the City needs to look into bike lanes, bike racks and so forth, to make it an easy and safe place to get around by bike.

Unlovable: Kelley Street bridge closed to pedestrians & bicyclists


Just in time for Commute Green Week in the state, the Hippo‘s QOL column reports that the Kelley Street bridge is posted as being closed to pedestrians and bicyclists during deck replacement.  The Highway Division website has information on the project and why it is necessary to replace the bridge deck at this time, but does not provide any information about restricted access for pedestrians and bicyclists, or alternative routes for non-drivers.

Bicycles in New Hampshire are given the same rights and responsibilities as cars with a few exceptions, so almost anywhere a driver can go, a bicyclists should be able to as well.  LivableMHT hasn’t seen the bridge under construction, so this is speculation, but given that the deck is being replaced and probably exposed, it seems likely that the Highway Division is restricting bicycle access for safety reasons.  If a lane is paved, however, bicyclists should be able to make use of it as any motor vehicle can.

Continue reading Unlovable: Kelley Street bridge closed to pedestrians & bicyclists

Envisioning Corey Square: please share your ideas

Central High School from Concord Street, Corey Square - photo by Brian O'Connor

As part of LivableMHT’s Envisioning series, we’re beginning to look at the Corey Square neighborhood, and specifically the square itself, at the intersection of Maple, Lowell and Nashua Streets.  We’ll be looking at how the neighborhood might be enhanced with amenities for pedestrians, bicyclists and hopefully transit users in the future, how the streetscape might be beautified, how to encourage investment in buildings and facade improvements similar to those downtown and in Rimmon Heights, and especially how the square itself might be made friendlier to local residents and visitors, and become the vibrant heart of this diverse neighborhood.

Corey Square, sometimes called Janeville, comprises the area roughly between Union and Ashland Streets to the east and west, and Pearl and Manchester Streets to the north and south.  The neighborhood includes the major intersections of Maple and Beech Streets with Hanover and Bridge Streets, as well as such landmarks as the Ash Street School, Central High School, Bronstein Park, and the Boys and Girls Club.  It is the smallest city neighborhood by land area, but it is densely populated, fully developed, and extremely walkable.  In addition to enjoying close proximity to downtown, NHIA, the City Library and the Currier, Corey Square is located along the two major eastern gateways into the city along Hanover and Bridge Streets.  The area once known as Janeville is a warren of narrow, meandering lanes that unlike almost all others in the city center were not built according to a grid of some sort, and the actual square at the center of the neighborhood is located where one of these lanes (Nashua Street) meets the grid at Lowell and Maple Streets.

Continue reading Envisioning Corey Square: please share your ideas

The Union Leader has a great write-up about an upcoming walkability audit and discussion with Dan Burden next week.  The presentation on the evening of May 3 is free to Manchester residents, but you must register by Saturday.  The article has the skinny on the presentation, and offers some insight into improving walkability in Manchester and New Hampshire, in general:

Looking for ways to get city people on foot

By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader

There’s a movement afoot.

In an auto-centric society — this state of 1.3 million people registered 835,344 passenger vehicles, 341,865 trucks, and 77,023 motorcycles last year — communities are exploring ways to get people out of their cars and inspire them to walk.

They’re called “walkable communities,” and this caravan of livability and sustainability concepts arrives in Manchester for a unique workshop and presentation May 3. Dan Burden, an internationally recognized authority on the subject of human-powered transportation, will discuss solutions that can be adapted to neighborhoods across New Hampshire.

The idea is to shoehorn walkability into a transportation system — local and state — that relies heavily on cars and trucks, said Jack Munn, chief planner for the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, one of the sponsors of the program called Retro-Fitting NH Neighborhoods.

An ability to walk to the park or a nearby business or school creates more of a sense of place, Munn said during a visit to Crystal Lake Park in Manchester, the neighborhood in which Burden will oversee two “walking audits” May 3 before giving his presentation that evening at The Derryfield Country Club.

“Basically,” Munn said, “we’re looking at ways to get people off their couch and out of their house.”

Partners in the project include the city of Manchester’s health department and its parks and recreation department, Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL-NH), and the Healthy NH Foundation.

It is important to give a neighborhood an identity and help people have a connection to their neighborhood, said Jaime Hoebeke, a senior public health specialist for the city of Manchester.

The Crystal Lake neighborhood was chosen for the “walking audits” because it is removed from the urban core of Manchester and is more typical of a New Hampshire town.

It also shows a challenge common in some communities. Joining Munn and Hoebeke at the park, Jessica Fleming noted it is a popular spot in summer, but one that everybody seems to drive to. Fleming, parks planner for the Manchester Parks, Recreation & Cemetery Department, said walkability remains a huge selling point for a community.

“Walkability creates a desirability in itself,” she said.

It is seen, too, as part antidote to rising obesity rates. Walkability will vary neighborhood to neighborhood, but there can be ways to increase physical activity, said Manchester Deputy Health Director Anna Thomas.

The multi-agency partnership will look at everything, from safety to traffic, and listen to residents who may have concerns or a perception about a particular area, she said.

“We’re essentially creating neighborhood action plans,” Thomas said. “Every neighborhood has a different set of needs, a different set of priorities.”

Terry Johnson, director of HEAL-NH, said land use and community planning is critical for a town or city to embrace “complete streets,” a concept that streets are designed to support all modes of transportation, from walking and cycling to cars and public transit.

“There are definitely some challenges, but there are some definite positives,” Johnson said of street planning in New Hampshire.

Some older towns in the state were designed with a town center, so that services are close by. But like states across the country, New Hampshire communities have become more sprawling. The positives Johnson mentioned include better sidewalks, signs and crosswalks and the embrace of safe routes to school programs.

Some municipalities are focused on improvements, but it is a particular challenge in rural communities with constraints on budgets and planning and building resources, according to Johnson.

When you create an environment and implement policies, people will take advantage of it, Johnson said.

“It makes it easier for people to make a healthy choice,” he said.

Retro-Fitting NH Neighborhoods

The evening presentation is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. on May 3 at the Derryfield Country Club, 628 Mammoth Road in Manchester. It is $15 per person, including dinner, but it is free to Manchester residents. Registration deadline is April 30.

For more information, call the Southern NH Planning Commission at 669-4664 or Manchester Health Department at 624-6466.

See Manchesternh.gov/health for more information on registering for the two walking tours in the Crystal Lake neighborhood.

Looking forward at the River’s Edge

The new Elliot at River’s Edge, an ambulatory care facility, is about to open on the old Jac-Pac site along Queen City Ave and–you guessed it–the river’s edge.  The project has been many years in the making, and its completion represents the last major project begun before the economic downturn.  Unlike Carthagina in the middle of the Merrimack just to the south, though, the Elliot at River’s Edge is not an island.

Continue reading Looking forward at the River’s Edge