The 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.
Saturday’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.
(Images: Capitol Hill EcoDistrict via Facebook)