During our August meeting – we did an analysis of Complete Streets policies in nearby cities. Places that were in New Hampshire and not so far from Nashua, but potentially have hugely better policies for pedestrian and cyclist safety.
Of these cities, we picked:
- Portsmouth, NH
- Manchester, NH
- Concord, NH
Below we will include all of the presentations as well as a short analysis of each and our learnings from each that we will ensure we implement for Nashua’s forthcoming Complete Streets policy.
Portsmouth has pretty decent Complete Streets Policy, and they are moving towards a more pedestrian/bike friendly downtown. That being said, there is room for improvement, and as we formulate our own policy suggestions for Nashua, we will have the opportunity to articulate a vision for the most livable city in New England.
Manchester interestingly does not have a Complete Streets policy we are aware of, this makes for an interesting scenario where Manchester is actually making its streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, but does not have a concrete policy for doing so.
Manchester however does have a much higher density than many of the other cities we’ve looked at (including Nashua) to the point where owning a car – while feasible is not necessarily the most convenient way to get around. Alternative transportation (whether micromobility or public transportation) in some cases may just make more sense for residents.
Because of this – Manchester’s hand is almost forced to push for additional pedestrian and cyclist safety. This is a strong reason to continue to push for additional density in Nashua – which starts with reforming the zoning laws.
With all that said, Manchester could be doing better. If there were a concrete policy we would see more consistent and high quality transformation of Manchester’s streets, but they are making more progress than many other cities.
Concord’s Complete Streets policy can be best summed up as: Made with love, but not with intention.
In order for a Complete Streets policy to be successful, it needs to:
- Ensure all modes of transportation have a safe space (cars can not be first)
- Provide specific goals
- Ensure there are measurable models of success
Concord’s Complete Streets tries to do the first one, but fails to do the other two, providing a Complete Streets Policy that would like to make change, but does not do much. Concord shows its heart is in the right place, but priorities are not yet there.
Concord’s Complete Streets policy has been in effect since 2015, with the earliest hints of a policy starting in 2008.
Some Takeaways for Nashua
For Nashua’s Complete Streets policy it is important we define goals outright. With Nashua downtown densifying we need to decide what this Complete Streets policy will accomplish in a measurable way. This is defining “the what” we are hoping to accomplish.
Things we may want to goal on:
- A vision zero plan?
- Zero road deaths per year with the expectation we will decrease every year
- Reducing car dependency?
- By decreasing average VMT traveled by Nashua’s residents on average every year?
- By decreasing vehicle ownership percent in Nashua?
- By increasing foot traffic?
- Measuring foot traffic in key commercial corridors and ensure it increases by X percent every year
It is also important that we define key ways we will move in this direction. This is defining “the how” we are going to accomplish it. Questions we will want this policy to answer:
- What specific street features are important for success?
- How might we design each street?
- Will some streets have different features than others?
- Are there any streets we want to prioritize?
- Are there any bad examples of streets we want to potentially retrofit?
Let’s get writing
On the Nashua Strong Towns leadership team we are going to begin writing up a draft policy. If there are any key features you are interested in having in streets, or any streets you are interested in mocking up using something like streetmix.net as examples for how you would like some streets to look, we would love to have your suggestions!
Send us an email at nashuastrongtowns [@] darrienglasser.com or send something to our email list at nashuastrongtowns [@] lists.nashuastrongtowns.org.
If you’re not part of our email lists, make sure to subscribe here!