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Exploring a pedestrian-only Pike/Pine block gets boost from city grant

They won't be closing Broadway but the study will look at the possibility of making a street like 10th or 11th Ave pedestrian only (Image: Tim Durkan)

They won’t be closing Broadway but the study will look at the possibility of making a street like 10th or 11th Ave pedestrian only (Image: Tim Durkan)

If you’ve found yourself Googling “woonerf‘ recently, you may be aware that “festival streets” and “activated alleys” are in vogue among Seattle city planners. A proposal for one such project in the heart of Capitol Hill’s nightlife core is now getting some legs.

Last week, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce received at $160,000 grant from the city, in part to explore an idea to make a stretch of Pike/Pine pedestrian-only.

Chamber director Michael Wells said the idea has been floating around for a while and the grant would fund a study and community outreach to gather ideas and concerns. Unlike the Capitol Hill Block Party, Wells said the street closure wouldn’t be tied to a specific event. While closing a street down permanently is not likely, Wells said anything is on the table.

“It could happen once a summer, once a month, on the weekends,” Wells said. “It has to be more than just a bar crawl.”

In 2009, we were talking about...

In 2009, we were talking about…

slimming down E Pike

slimming down E Pike

Capitol Hill developer Jerry Everard pitched in on the Chamber’s grant proposal. Back in 2013, he told CHS about a vision for a pedestrian-only greenway along 10th and 11th that extended south from Cal Anderson into Pike/Pine. While this latest grant might not bring that vision into fruition, it could be a start.

“I hope we can find a solution that makes a nice connection from Cal Anderson to Seattle U that benefits businesses, residents (in all that new construction) and the Park,” Everard said in an email.

Finding a common ground among residents and businesses owners won’t be easy. Closing off streets means losing space for parking for cars, tour busses, and street-side dumpsters.

While creating a pedestrian-only stretch of 10th through the heart of Pike/Pine would seem to be a streets and sidewalks enhancement, the Chamber actually proposed the project as a public safety initiative. According to Wells, the Seattle Police Department sees the project as a promising way to better manage the late-night clash of cars and hordes of people streaming out of bars.

Finding a way to calm traffic — and revelers — in the area has been a topic of discussion in central Pike/Pine for years. Way back in 2009, CHS was dreaming of narrowing E Pike and adding space for more streetlife and less traffic. Closing off 10th Ave around E Pike would be a much less radical change and could mesh well with plans afoot around Seattle’s new streatery and parklet program making use of the corner of 10th and E Pike.

The Only in Seattle grant is a key funding source for the Chamber and many other neighborhood organizations. Mayor Ed Murray announced the $1.8 million at a Wednesday media conference.

Capitol Hill’s share of the grant money will also help fund a fresh study of safety concerns in Cal Anderson Park, which would include determining where more lighting is needed, and is part of a plan to fund staffing to help the chamber and the Capitol Hill Community Council better organize.

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23 thoughts on “Exploring a pedestrian-only Pike/Pine block gets boost from city grant

  1. I would love to see something like this happen.

    It’s really unfortunate that it’s gaining momentum after four major new projects have added garage exits to 10th and 11th between pike and union, and after the parking lot behind vita was approved for development.

    As far as I can tell, closing off the streets is less about street parking, and much more about how the traffic to the existing buildings in the neighborhood is managed.

  2. Good idea. With throngs of people on the sidewalks and traffic at a crawl anyway, why not. I think I’d start with closing Pike between Broadway and 11th or 12th.

  3. Oh my. No. Pike/Pine is the way to get downtown by car. I know the popular consensus leans towards “cars are bad”, but for some of us they are truly a necessity and public transportation just is not an option. Why don’t tne powers that be simply remove all of the street parking on those two streets? That would free up plenty of space for wide swaths of pedestrian/bike access.

    • Boohoo, you might have to go two blocks out of your way. Who says you can’t drive a car? There is enough space in the city that is dominated by motor vehicles, we can afford to set aside a tiny fraction of it for people on foot.

      • We do, we have set a fraction of space for pedestrians it’s called the sidewalk – too bad so many pedestrians insist on walk in the roadway instead.

    • Where is transit not an option to get downtown, but when driving, pike/pine is the only option you have? It sounds like you are describing a place which simply does not exist.

    • You would feel differently about your idea if you owned a small business on Pike-Pine. A reasonable amount of street parking is necessary if a commercial district wants to attract customers for other parts of town.

      • The point of contention is the definition of “reasonable”. I’d argue that there is currently a more than reasonable amount of parking.

  4. One option that probably make alot of sense would be to eliminate street parking and potentially make pike and pine each one-way in opposite directions from broadway to 15th/14th. This would have to be combined with some other reasonable traffic accommodations on madison and john/olive, though the current plan for madison BRT probably ends up reducing the vehicle capacity on that route.

    By removing street parking you actually remove/displace many cars that are heading to these blocks to LOOK for parking (end up circling), while still allowing for buses, commercial and private vehicle through traffic, and commercial vehicle loading/unloading.

    The streets could also be converted to woonerfs to give pedestrials more priority while still allowing for vehicular traffic.

  5. Love this idea and have been thinking about it since the La Rambla vision from cheesecake, and visiting Barcelona myself.

    If nothing else, I really hope that sidewalks get extended along Pike in this area. With so many people out and about it makes soooo much sense to dedicate more street to pedestrians, opening up more opportunities for sidewalk cafe seating and the like.

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  7. An opportunity to increase tree canopy, shrubbery and plantings to help support local birds and and insects would be lovely, an extension or addition to the “pollinator pathway” concept.

  8. Hmmm, could be awsome, sort of like Lincoln in south beach, but also could suck the life out of it if there’s insufficient critical mass and people can’t hail and travel up and down in ubers and taxis, maybe start with just no private autos but keep the taxis and ubers and see how it goes.

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  10. I have a suggestion, why don’t we set road blocks at the entrances to the city and have SPD prevent all motor vehicles from entering the city altogether – it would keep the cops busy and will provide plenty of walking space to all the tree huggers out here. well I think that it may not work, what would we do with people (like me) that can’t walk for a distance – maybe we should just forget about them.

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