Grant awarded to promote walkable streets in NashuaBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
March 24. 2015 8:55PM
NASHUA — The Gate City is one of 18 communities throughout the nation to be awarded a new grant geared to improve access to physical activity and walkable streets.
The American Planning Association has selected Nashua for a $125,000 grant to support health equity and safe roadways for pedestrians and cyclists.
“This is really about encouraging people to consider other ways to get around,” said Nicholas Coates, active living coordinator with Healthy Eating Active Living New Hampshire. “It is designed to improve situations so that people can make a choice that is less stressful, and hopefully help them lead safer and healthier lifestyles.”
The money will be used to conduct a new, Level of Traffic Stress Analysis, which will pinpoint different locations in Nashua where walkers and bikers might feel uncomfortable because the road is too narrow, cars are traveling too fast or there isn’t a sidewalk, said Coates.
“This is an exciting new opportunity to improve the health of our communities through diverse partnerships,” Anna Ricklin, manager of APA’s Planning and Community Health Center, said in a statement.
The funding will enable the city to work collaboratively with other entities, including the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, New Hampshire Public Health Association and Healthy Eating Active Living, to identify problematic or high-stress roadways for pedestrians, and then create solutions to make them more user-friendly, Coates explained on Tuesday.
If someone feels too stressed while walking to the public library, Coates said they will likely opt not to walk to the facility the next time they need a book. The grant will help identify those stressor areas, and encourage city staff to work together to fix the problematic areas to accommodate the needs of pedestrians so that they will choose to walk in the future.
“This is the kind of funding that helps our city build on the existing efforts to provide a safe and healthy community environment in all Nashua neighborhoods,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said in a release.
Guided by the understanding that how a community is designed has a direct effect on the health of its citizens, the funding allows APA to offer monetary resources to promote public health to 18 communities throughout the nation — including Nashua, says the statement.
The program is implemented in partnership with the American Public Health Association, and represents a new collaboration between planners and public health professionals, according to Coates.
“This money will directly benefit the city of Nashua while focusing on laying the groundwork to help make the city’s streets more inclusive and safe for all users,” he added.