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Pilot project to make 3 blocks of E Pike pedestrian-only starts Saturday night

(Image: Tim Durkan)

(Image: Tim Durkan)

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 1.33.42 PMThe vision of a pedestrian-only street through Pike/Pine is becoming a reality… for four nights in August, anyway. A pilot program kicks off this Saturday to restrict vehicle traffic on E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave from 10 PM to 3 AM.

For the first two Saturdays, August 8th and 15th, the pedestrian zone will focus only on crowd management and releasing sidewalk pressure by blocking traffic on the three-block stretch. The second two nights, August 22nd and 29th, will start earlier — 8 PM to 3AM — and include performers and activities emphasizing queer culture and the arts.

According to the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict, the group spearheading the initiative with funding from the City of Seattle, August 22nd will feature a free street yoga class at 8:30 PM put on by SweatBox Yoga. Owner Laura Culberg said mats and athletic clothing would be optional for the beginners level session. The queer side of things gets started with a drag show at 9:30 PM. Here’s the rundown from host Jackie Hell:

You won’t be the only drag queen on E Pike St this night! The lineup includes some of Seattle’s finest, including: Tony James, AKA Freckles Riverside, of New Noise Productions (the King of F’ing with Burlesque). RainbowGore Cake, the 12 year old, drag superstar. Shelli Kountz, bringing you Drag King realness. Ade, the sultry singer we all love.  Honey Bucket, Pac Highway’s hottest Ho.

On August 29th, Century Ballroom will host a series of short queer friendly partner dance classes On E Pike, which may include live musicians.

On both nights, amplified sound will be wrapped up by 11 PM. The programming will then shift gears into more “calming” performances, including human statues and mimes.

“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,” said EcoDistrict organizer Alex Brennan.

The plan, according to organizers, is that “these temporarily open streets will allow for increased pedestrian mobility, improved police monitoring, and more positive activation.”

After meeting with nearby business owners and residents, and conducting an online survey, the EcoDistrict organizers opted not to include a daytime street closures as part of the trial run.

With three businesses right in the mixThe Comet, Lost Lake Cafe, and Big Mario’sDave Meinert said he was mostly excited about the concept.

“I think it will allow the police to do a better job of patrolling the area on foot, and it will get cars and tons of people off the same street, where there have already been several car/ped accidents,” Meinert said. “Of course if it just turns into a shit show, we should reconsider.”

After consistently calling for more diverse businesses around Pike/Pine, the overwhelming concern for many day and nighttime owners is that street closures don’t create a Capitol Hill Bourbon Street.

The Seattle Police Department has been supportive of the idea so far, said Brennan, 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. It may even help curb some of Seattle’s rising “sidewalk rage.” An East Precinct representative declined, however, to comment on the project.

If you really want to support the pilot — and make $15 in the process, organizers are signing up volunteers to do head counts and take down qualitative observations.

The 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.

UPDATE 8/7/2015 4:05 PM: The city has put out a media release with details of the closure and statements from the mayor and East Precinct commander.

“On these beautiful summer Saturday nights, we want to explore a new opportunity to come together as a community,” Mayor Ed Murray says in the release. “We are going to create a new experience in the heart of one of our most vibrant neighborhoods. As we add music and art, Capitol Hill residents and visitors alike will enjoy a fun and safe atmosphere.”

“Our officers are excited to be able to provide this opportunity to our community,” East Precinct’s Capt. Paul McDonagh is quoted as saying. “When we work together to create a new and exciting community spaces, we make our neighborhoods safer and stronger.”

The full announcement is below:

Seattle to Open Pike/Pine Corridor to Pedestrians on Capitol Hill Saturday

SEATTLE (August 7, 2015) – Today Mayor Ed Murray, the Office of Economic Development, Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Police Department with Capitol Hill Housing announced a collaboration to temporarily open sections of Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine corridor to pedestrians.

The pilot will close a portion of Pike Street on Capitol Hill to motor vehicle traffic on Saturday nights throughout August, increasing pedestrian access in the corridor.

“On these beautiful summer Saturday nights, we want to explore a new opportunity to come together as a community,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We are going to create a new experience in the heart of one of our most vibrant neighborhoods. As we add music and art, Capitol Hill residents and visitors alike will enjoy a fun and safe atmosphere.”

“This is an exciting piece of a much larger economic development strategy to support a strong, 24-hour economy in Capitol Hill,” said Brian Surratt, Director of the Office of Economic Development. “We’ve been working closely to support both daytime and nighttime businesses who are excited to see what we learn from this pilot.”

“I’ve been impressed with the city’s willingness to work so closely with the stewards, residents and business owners of Capitol Hill on this project. We are a strong and diverse neighborhood, but our needs are changing,” said Shan Foisy, Founder and Creative Director of Capitol Hill business The Soup Standard. “I believe this pilot has everyone’s best interests at heart and I’m excited to see what comes of it.”

· On August 8 and 15, Pike Street between Broadway and 12th will be closed from 10 p.m. to approximately 3 a.m.
· On August 22 and 29, Pike Street will close at 8 p.m., and local businesses and community groups will provide programming that will include a yoga demonstration, drag show, and live string music as people head home. The street will reopen at approximately 3 a.m.
· During the closures, adjacent side streets (10th and 11th Avenues) will be local access only.
· Passenger loading and unloading will occur outside the closure area. Suggested passenger load zones (PLZ) for Taxi/Uber/Lyft include three (3) PLZs on 12th Ave. between Pike and Union, and one (1) PLZ on Union between 11th and 12th.
“Our officers are excited to be able to provide this opportunity to our community,” said East Precinct Captain Paul McDonagh. “When we work together to create a new and exciting community spaces, we make our neighborhoods safer and stronger.”

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18 thoughts on “Pilot project to make 3 blocks of E Pike pedestrian-only starts Saturday night” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. They should also require Taxi/Uber/Lyft stations as well. I’m out there most weekends and the majority of traffic are these drivers trolling for fares or looking for their riders. A little order in this regard would go a long way to ease congestion.

  2. A good idea Timmy. If Pike St. Is closed, have a taxi queue stand on 12th and one on Broadway. The parties would know where to go, and there would be less traffic/pollution. The taxi/uber cars not in the front of the line could queue a few blocks away, similar to how the hotel’s manage their taxis. It would require some parking restrictions a couple of nights a week, but it seems like a reasonable trade off to me.

    • Isn’t the gas station on Broadway/Pike already a taxi stand? I agree there is a need for stands – but I think those should only be for regulated taxi services.

      • Not a true taxi stand. Just an area where taxi’s tend to congregate and socialize with each other. We need an area that is property designated and has signage.

    • Apparently roadblocks and drag queens are very expensive. Who would have thunk it? I figured “Honey Bucket, Pac Highway’s hottest Ho.” would be cheap!

    • That is incorrect, Andrew. 30K is going to the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict for this project. And there are many other pieces of work associated w/ City grants to benefit Capitol Hill – ALL of Capitol Hill.

  3. Okay… I like it. How about some parking garages to make up for even further reduced parking space? This just pushes those cars further and further into the residential areas where it’s already too tight.

    • You think we need a parking garage for the 15-20 parking spots that trial this displaces?

      I still see surface lots with empty spaces and room in garages in QFC and Harvard/Pine.

  4. Most of these revel era shouldn’t be driving anyway. If they don’t have the sense to stay out of the roads on foot, is it a good idea to put them behind the wheel of a car?

  5. Lower Queen Anne has a ton of resident only parking at 6PM…how can we get that started in Capitol Hill?

    Also – a ton of people have been parking in several parts of Capitol Hill (not metered) and walking to work downtown.

    How can you get the residential permitting status rolling?

  6. Seattle’s rising “sidewalk rage”? Really? Are flannel shirted, bearded, over paid tech workers running into each other now as they gaze into their phones on their way to one of 60 bars.

    • The minority wear beards…. and some of us have better things to do than to think we are so important, we have to continually stare at our phones.

  7. I’m thankful I’ve moved out of my place before this was done. I owned a great loft and loved the neighborhood which had an artsy/indie feel when I moved in 8 years ago. Weekends had an active energy, but for the most part were pretty chill. The last three years were hell for me and most of the long standing residents in my condo on 11th and Pike; I was one of the last to leave of the long term owners. I loved my place but the weekend crowds, especially the summer when you had to keep your windows open, made it a very unpleasant. Weekends were becoming drunken, screech fests filled with fighting that went into the wee hours of the morning. My boyfriend more than once would call me up and have me let him in via the side entrance because some sorority girl was puking at the front entrance. The morning after was like walking out into a fraternity basement after a party: body fluids and trash everywhere. Bars would do nothing to clean up and the local residents and daytime businesses would end up sweep or sluicing the waste away. I hope the city does focus on curtailing over serving, drunken brawls, crime and has weekend street cleaning during this pedestrian corridor project. If not, the mess the morning after is going to make mess the Capitol Hill Block Party makes look paltry.