Roughly a Key Arena full of people stream through Pike/Pine on an average summer weekend night, according to a six night night study of pedestrian activity in the area.
The study was conducted as part of the Pike/Pine pedestrian pilot project this August, which closed off three blocks of E Pike on three nights to ease crowd congestion and open the area up for street performances. The study’s findings offer an analytical look into some fairly obvious trends: Pike/Pine crowds peak around 11 PM, people use a variety of transportation modes to get there, and they are primarily showing up to drink.
Organized by the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict and Seattle Department of Transportation, researchers counted and surveyed pedestrians on the three street closure nights and three regular nights in July and August. An average of 26,281 pedestrians were counted entering and exiting the Pike/Pine area from 8 PM – 2 AM, not accounting for re-counts.
Counts were conducted by analyzing 200+ hours of video taken from six cameras placed on the edges of Pike/Pine. SDOT researchers counted every person that appeared on camera during the six hours; similar studies reduce that total number by 20% to estimate the total number of individuals, researchers said.
“It’s not a count of every person, but it gives a sense of scale,” said Seth Geiser, who’s helping coordinate the pilot project with SDOT.
Crowds peaked around 11 PM and stayed constant until 2 AM during the six nights. There was a 9% uptick in pedestrians during the street closure, according to the report.
In order to better understand who was out walking around, researchers surveyed some 700 pedestrians during the study. A quarter of survey respondents identified as gay, queer, or something other than “straight,” and 77% identified as “white” or white and something else. Around 14% of people drove alone to Pike/Pine; the majority of people walked, took rideshares, rode public transit, or used some combination of the three.
Researchers also wanted to find out what people were up to in the neighborhood: 60% came for drinking, 41% for dining, 23% for dancing, and 21% came to watch live music. Around one third of those surveyed lived in Central Seattle, while another third lived elsewhere in Seattle.
Not surprising, it appears the Big Mario’s pizza window attracts a standing cluster of people that grows throughout the night. Researchers found the stationary cluster at 10th and E Pike included many people sitting and lying on the sidewalks, making it nearly impossible to pass through without brushing by someone or stepping on to the street.
Organizers from the EcoDistrict and Office of Economic Development held two sparsely attended community feedback meetings last week on the pilot project. Online feedback and individual meetings with business owners have garnered a more robust response, organizers said. You can still offer feedback on the project here.
The city will be releasing a more detailed report in October that will summarize feedback from businesses, property owners, and residents. The pedestrian zone project was funded through $30,000 of a $160,000 city grant.
Leading up to the pilot project, the idea received a mostly enthusiastic response during community meetings. However, some landowners and business owners have pushed back on continuing the project with complaints that it puts resources toward the neighborhood’s nightlife industry without enough consideration of daytime businesses in the area.
EcoDistrict organizers have said they are open to scrapping the project if it isn’t working for everyone in the neighborhood. The Capitol Hill Housing-backed organization will have plenty to work on in coming months. Meanwhile, the Capitol Hill Chamber is seeking a new director. It remains to be seen how the pedestrian streets project will be impacted by a re-tooled chamber and a Broadway Business Improvement Area that could be expanding into Pike/Pine territory.