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How Pike/Pine can copy Portland’s nightlife pedestrian-only zone

Why not every weekend? (Image: timdurkan via Flickr)

Why not every weekend? (Image: timdurkan via Flickr)

While East Precinct’s new commander — literally — wrestles with getting Pike/Pine nightlife crime under control, and SPD and the FBI crack down on identified “open air drug markets” including the streets around Cal Anderson, a smaller effort underway to assemble a plan to make the neighborhood a safer place on crowded weekends can look to our neighbors to the south for an example of the initiative in action.

In March, CHS reported on funding for a study to sort out how to create a pedestrian-only zone in the middle of the Pike/Pine nightlife district. 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, officials say.

So how might it work? Here’s a recent message from the Portland Police Department:

entertainment_districtmapHere’s how the PPD explains the zone:

In December 2012, Mayor Sam Adams began a pilot program to address safety issues in Portland’s Entertainment District–an area within Old Town. Since that time, City Council has voted to continue this program, where on Friday and Saturday nights, from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., police close roads in this district, creating a pedestrian-only zone.

This area attracts large crowds of people to area nightclubs and bars.  The safety issues prior to the closure included large crowds packing the sidewalks and spilling over into the streets.  Police also were responding to calls of intoxicated people stepping out into traffic, urinating and other issues.  Since the closures, the Entertainment District has since seen a significant drop in offenses and criminal cases.

Mayor Hales has conducted town hall meetings and has formed a Stakeholders Advisory Council to address issues affected by the closures.

This map shows the regular boundaries affected by the closures; police have the authority to alter these boundaries and the time frame as needed.

Would the same strategy help around E Pike? Judging by the weekend blotter items in our crime coverage, it seems unlikely to hurt.

UPDATE: Another component to consider in all of this is where best to stage taxi and car services. SDOT has plans to install 10 new car stands this year and is looking for feedback. The deadline was reportedly April 20th but drop a line if you’re so inclined.


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13 thoughts on “How Pike/Pine can copy Portland’s nightlife pedestrian-only zone


    Close Pike between 12th and Broadway.

    In Portland, they tow cars that are left on the street by 10:00. In Albuquerque, they block off the street at 10 and don’t let any more cars in, but let cars out as people leave. This way, traffic is immediately cut out of the equation at 10pm, yet it doesn’t immediately eliminate all the parking because people who are already parked can still stay parked as long as they want.

    I’m fine either way. Traffic should be diverted from Pike by 10pm. It’s a no-brainer. These are two good examples of implementation.

    • Yes yes yes yes yes – that is exactly the stretch that needs to be just closed to traffic on weekend nights.

  2. This is a fantastic idea. I imagine it would be more necessary from May-September, but would be welcomed year round. The sidewalks get so packed at night, especially when there are shows at Neumo’s or nearby. I think it would be great to block cars from parking on Pike/Pine from 10pm on. It would be important to have some sort of designated bikes lanes or maybe more bike parking on the periphery of those blocks. Hopefully it would encourage more people to bus or ride share to that area as well. I only wish we had thought of it before Portland…let’s do it!

  3. thought they should do this a long time ago.. now that the dumpsters are gone, get rid of the cars! you can’t even drive thru there on a saturday night anyway

  4. This seems like a great idea. Maybe designate late night taxi/uber pickup areas on Pine and Union to make it easier to leave the area after closing time.

  5. So the solution to intoxicated people stepping into traffic to urinate is to eliminate cars from the area? How about stopping the people from spilling off the sidewalk and urinating in public?

  6. Where is the demonstrated need for this? I have only seen anecdotal claims that there is a pedestrian safety issue that can be solved by closing streets to traffic. There are potential downsides, so I want to see evidence that 1) This area is the scene of a higher-than-normal incidence of pedestrian vs car injury accidents, and 2) This will help. What is this going to cost taxpayers? People actually live on this street, and having zero cars and a “Bourbon street” vibe is not desired by all. Show me why this is needed, with actual data.

    • I was wondering why I didn’t really like this idea, and I think your response sums it up. This seems to take away any pressure for our Fri-Sat guests to modify their behavior, and sends the message that anything goes on Pike/Pine. I think there’s more of a behavior problem (fights, noise, aggression) than a car injury problem..other than all the drunk people driving home after closing time.

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