Second phase brings a busier E Pike pedestrian zone

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IMG_0062The rainbow crosswalks served with even greater purpose over the weekend as the second phase of the E Pike pedestrian zone pilot shifted the test of a car-free Pike/Pine into a model with more activity and more options for motor vehicles.

Saturday’s set-up again included the closure of E Pike between Broadway and 12th but north-south cross-streets 10th and 11th remained open to driving — and everything else that cars like to do in the big city. The result was a busy scene with flashing SPD safety lights in all directions. Let’s turn it over to our correspondent at 10th and Pike, Pike/Pinerepreneur Dave Meinert.  “I like it, but I liked it better when the streets were completely closed off,” Meinert said Saturday night. “I could do without the flashing police lights, too.” With the streets closed except for the north/south streets, the rainbow crosswalks were the only safe way to cross.

IMG_0079Saturday’s E Pike closure also included “programming” for the first time — street yoga and drag queens were on the menu this weekend. The threat of mimes was postponed until the next session. The verdict is still out on how the street entertainment mix worked out. SDOT also said data collected on the pilot is not yet ready to share publicly.

Next weekend, On August 29th, Century Ballroom will host queer-friendly partner dance classes On E Pike, planned to include live musicians. Amplified sound will be wrapped up by 11 PM. The programming will then shift gears into more “calming” performances. “We want string musicians to serenade people goodnight and indicate that it’s time to get out of the street, get some food or head home,” EcoDistrict organizer Alex Brennan told CHS.

The EcoDistrict’s pedestrian zone project is being funded through $30,000 of a $160,000 city grant the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce received earlier this year. A similar program is up and running in Portland’s nightlife core. A pedestrian-only pilot program on Vancouver, BC’s bar-laden Granville St. was well-received by the city’s police department, which reported public intoxication calls decreased by almost half. The Seattle Police Department has been supportive of the idea so far as street fights and other crime could be substantially reduced by allowing bar crowds to disperse into the street rather than being crammed together on sidewalks. Spreading crowds over a greater area could also allow police officers to intervene quicker when incidents occur, Brennan said.

Find more information about the pilot program here. You can contact the EcoDistrict with feedback.


(Images: Capitol Hill EcoDistrict via Facebook)

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10 thoughts on “Second phase brings a busier E Pike pedestrian zone

  1. It really is possible to thrive within a few pedestrian appointed blocks without having to add back in cars. The 10th/11th thing strikes me as pretty stupid. Besides that, this experiment is pretty interesting.

    Anyone know when the Century Ballroom event on the 29th starts? My partner and I would LOVE to do that, which would be our first time actually coming out for this. We usually need something specific to get us to go out, and the CB thing is just the ticket!

  2. $160,000 Hmmm, wonder how many people that could feed.
    That’s a lot of money to cater to the bar crowds need to spill over into the street. Seems like that money could be better spent somewhere else.

    • I’m reading it as 30k out of a 160k grant, not 160k being to fund this project. Still, 30k is a lot of money.

      If its for more police and more space which reduces violence, I’m for it.

  3. Saturday had a great, vibrant, safe feel, and definitely brought a gay edge back to the weekend crowd. The police presence was great (except the cops with their lights on making it look like a crime scene at Broadway), and added to the safety.

    10th and 11th being open was close to disaster. Saw so many cars just driving around looking for parking and having to drive through crowds of pedestrians. Heard this was due to a small group of business owners worried about parking when Pike is closed. Hope we don’t allow backward minded businesses kill this idea.

    • Then you should probably just stay far, far away from silly old Capitol Hill. I hear downtown Renton is very unsilly most weekend evenings; you should check that out, as it sounds much more in line with your not-silly sensibilities.

  4. That is good to know there was more police presence. If it makes it more safe than I am for it. I’m not out in my neighborhood after 11 PM anymore because of all the bad things happening. But it’s good to know that is what the money is going for, just not more room for drunk people to walk around.

    • Seems this is primarily about safety. The SPD seems to like it and believe the layout allows them to better police and allows people leaving the bars space which means less problems. Win for the neighborhood.