Second Neighborhood Night Walk In District 4 Explores Pedestrian Safety


"Portal," an art work by Matt Evald Johnson was installed at Kendrick Park in 2010. Photo: Terry Rooney

Last Wednesday evening (3/22) District 4 Councilors Anika Lopes and Pam Rooney held their second evening neighborhood nightwalk. The aim of these walks is to observe lighting, sidewalk conditions, and general pedestrian safety and to generate a public discussion of these issues. The first walk happened a couple of months back in the northern part of their district further up East Pleasant Street and was led by Town Manager Paul Bockelman. This time, we were half a dozen at first, but grew in number to 13 people as we walked the route, beginning at the rotary end of Kendrick Park by the “stabile” sculpture called “Portal”. Before noting any issues to do with lighting or pedestrian safety along the way, it is worth mentioning that “Portal” is an art work that was made by Matt Evald Johnson and installed in 2010. The sculpture was made possible by the BID and the Public Fine Arts Commission in a town that takes pride in offering a rich cultural climate for its residents. 

We then walked from the park to Fearing Street, noticing some unusually wide cracks in the road that have been sealed but are still deep and are probably tripping or wheel hazards. At 374 North Pleasant, the sidewalk is used to access  a fraternity house parking area; this stretch is often blocked by cars and is in poor condition, with plenty of unsealed cracks.  

One neighbor was upset that snow plows had run roughshod over their driveway and pavement apron, cracking open the blacktop like a new puzzle. One neighbor had filled a hole in the sidewalk outside her house with gravel, hoping it would help, after the snow plows had come through but it looked like it was turning into a sink hole. We discussed as a group where to find and use the “see-click-fix” link ( as it is not on the , DPW homepage where one might expect to find it. 

One of our participants began picking up the many empty bottles and cans left strewn around from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night revelers who use Fearing Street as a personal highway to the dorms of UMass at Southwest or for a pathway into town. Even though I was there to cover the story for the Indy, I felt I needed to use the occasion to explain the successful joint UMass and Amherst Police Department program called “Walk this Way” to the person by my side. This emphasizes student behavior and safety in a peer-to-peer model.

Also along Fearing, councilors heard that streetlights, while helpful for navigating the sidewalk, provide lighted gathering places for clusters of students who walk this route by the thousands. Each streetlight is a meeting place with loud conversation and an uptick of noise late at night.

On Lincoln/McClellan we were joined by Councilor Jennifer Taub from District 3, and heard that our town manager might be able to attend as well. It was clear that these councilors had time for voters’ concerns. We walked the beautiful new sidewalk on McClellan but some participants lamented that at least 11 trees had been removed and wondered if this was necessary in order to rebuild the sidewalks. This formerly shady street is now quite exposed.

Another night walk is planned for the near future and will likely include food.

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1 thought on “Second Neighborhood Night Walk In District 4 Explores Pedestrian Safety

  1. Thank you, this is a start, which must be extended to other areas of Town. Very important would be revising the reporting site so that it is easier to find. In fact, if Amherst REALLY WANTED TO KNOW where the dangerous sidewalk, roads, and crossings are, it would ASK often and make it easy to ANSWER.
    Most of all, we must demand that the budget for street repair and lighting be increased.

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