Seattle City Council member Sally Clark’s community discussion about the possibility of closing a portion of Pike/Pine to traffic to create a pedestrian friendly nightlife zone has made the leap into the punditry zone:
We’re with the ‘Cola kids on this one. We first wrote about the idea to narrow East Pike in March 2009 after contributor cheesecake returned from Barcelona inspired by La Rambla:
… how much better some of our heaviest used pedestrian streets (North Broadway, Pike/Pine, 15th) could be if they devoted even a little bit more space to pedestrians, instead of the cars that dominate the space today
As the Publicola post notes,
A better way to foster the pedestrian environment on Pike Street would be to narrow down the car travel lanes and widen the sidewalks. As is evident in the photo above, the ~12-foot sidewalk on the south side of Pike doesn’t cut it.* How about we take out the center turn lane and give that space to the sidewalks?
Such a move would reduce car capacity on Pike Street (gasp!)—indeed, it’s a classic example of the inescapable conflict between driving and walking. But if there’s any place in the City where the pedestrian realm should take priority over car capacity, Pike/Pine is it. The “visual friction” created by a narrowed street would keep traffic slow, and make it both safer and more comfortable for pedestrians.
Much of “the community’s” focus for the past year has been on the Broadway street car plan and the transit oriented development around the coming light rail station, both worthy projects. But it might be time to come back to La Rambla now that it is getting the attention of the rest of Seattle.
And, while you’re thinking about open space in the city, you might want to pull together your plan for a pocket park to be part of Park(ing) Day 2010 in the People’s Parking Lot at Pine and Belmont. There’s still plenty of room for more parks.