If you were in Nashua yesterday, you may have come by the annual Nashua Holiday Stroll! The Nashua Stroll is an annual event where city officials open Main Street to pedestrian traffic, and do not allow cars in for about 11 hours. There is no stronger indicator of how much folks love walkability than opening Main Street to pedestrian traffic is seen as an event.
And event it is, there were folks from all over who came to the event. Plenty in Nashua, but many others who were from the Greater Boston area, and even folks who flew in from other states. They may have come for Thanksgiving, but they certainly enjoyed the Stroll.
Strong Towns at the Stroll
We were at the Nashua Holiday Stroll and it was great! We used the opportunity to talk to a number of folks about walkability, survey about their transportation to the Stroll, and to give out a bit of free fudge!
For folks who came up to our table (while we had it) we gave away free fudge, and gave folks an opportunity to win some more if they filled out our short survey on how they transported themselves here, and their preferences on walkability with a total of 27 responses.
It’s worth noting for this survey, we surveyed folks who wanted more fudge, not folks who necessarily knew what Strong Towns was! This should be a reasonable random sample of folks in the stroll, since we think most folks like fudge.
Here are some of the results summarized.
We started by asking folks how much they were enjoying the Stroll, to no surprise most folks were really enjoying it. Opening up Main Street to pedestrian traffic is an event, and thousands showed up. It’s no wonder folks were enjoying it.
Even though there was rapid transit from Holman Stadium, a number of folks who came today drove themselves to an area nearby, parked, and walked the rest of the way.
Regardless of how they got there though, 100% of folks who answered the survey wanted more walkable places like the one on Main Street yesterday, only with varying degrees of availability.
Most folks who answered would like every place to be walkable, with the following 30% wishing they lived in a mostly walkable area. Only a small portion wanted areas to only be walkable during portions of the year like the Holiday Stroll.
After folks answered this, they were sent to a section specific based on the transportation option they chose.
Driving was the most populous choice so we’ll go with that one first. We first asked drivers how much they enjoyed driving in Nashua. The answer was unsurprisingly, overall not great, with the majority of folks choosing neutral or negative. Roughly only 35% said they enjoyed driving in Nashua:
Of those who drove, as most folks were not a fan, it comes again to no surprise that most drivers would prefer to be able to walk to their destination more, rather than have to drive. Only 1 response said they are happy driving to handle all of their day to day needs:
We also had an open response section here and got a few responses saying they enjoyed the fudge. We appreciate it! The recipe can be found here.
The transit section
The second most used transportation type was the transit section, with roughly 22% of respondents saying they used the shuttle service.
Of them, the vast majority of respondents said they enjoyed the experience, with only 1 response being neutral. Speed and availability were top priorities for transit riders.
Nashua is looking into a Transit Oriented Development model for the coming years as mentioned in their Master Charter Plan which would make rapid transit more viable across larger portions of Nashua. It would be an enormous improvement to the town if completed.
The only concern others had for transit was safety. It is worth noting however shuttles, trains, and the like are already vastly safer than cars, with passenger transportation vehicle injuries dwarfing the other modes of transportation by enormous amounts.
The walking/cycling section
The last set of folks who got to the Stroll walked or cycled. These were among the lowest number of responses, with folks who cycled likely only living nearby, or being an avid cyclist.
For these folks, we asked them how safe they feel from cars when walking around Nashua. The result is mostly neutral, with the quite a few responses coming in at 3 (neither good nor bad), and a few folks saying they enjoyed it.
Lack of results here speak for themselves though. With only 14.8% of respondents saying they walked or cycled to the Stroll, we can easily tell this is not the preferred mode of transport for people. It is important we make it easy for folks to be able to walk or cycle to their destinations.
Overall the Stroll was a great event, and shows that there is enormous desire for more walkable places in Nashua. In many cases, respondents noted they would like every place in Nashua to be walkable. If we had our way, we would too.
We’ll end this post with a few other nice photos of hustle and bustle of the Stroll.