On one block of E Pike Friday night, cars were replaced with people eating slices from Big Mario’s Pizza, riding bikes, and having after-show smokes. It was the start of the second round of the Pike People Street, which saw car traffic blocked off on E Pike between 10th and 11th from 11 PM to 3 AM.
Seattle Department of Transportation public space specialist Seth Geiser, who was out in the street Friday night, said the “late night” test run was a success from the city’s perspective — people spilled out into the street to relieve sidewalk pressure and there were no cars towed from the closed parking areas.
The response from people on the street who spoke with CHS was also overwhelmingly positive. “It seems super safe and super fun. I wish more people joined to make it more of a party,” one woman told CHS. Another said she wished the city spread the word more widely to bring more people out into the street. A man visiting Seattle from Tennessee said it reminded him of going out in Memphis.
Parking was also removed on 11th Ave, which Geiser said became a de-facto drop off and pick up area for car shares. The city estimates that some 25% of people use car shares for getting to and from Pike/Pine on weekend nights. “It’s enough that we should think about how its managed,” he said.
While there were no planned performances or additional food trucks Friday night, SDOT did set out tents, tables, and chairs that Geiser said were well used throughout the evening.
The next two Pike People Street events — October 13th and 16th — will be afternoon street closures. SDOT plans to have even more tables and chairs out on the street. The city is also working with five restaurants interested in setting up outdoor dining.
SDOT was out conducting surveys during the night to find out how people traveled to Pike/Pine and what they were doing. The city will once again be using video taken during the street closure to count the number of pedestrians in the area and will conduct follow up surveys with businesses.
With several street closures already in the books, Geiser said Friday’s event was much easier to plan within SDOT than past attempts, which will allow the city to focus on special programming in the future. “We’re really interested in activations that are routine and self regulating,” Geiser said.
In the beginning, the project to create a Pike/Pine pedestrian zone created three nights of relatively straightforward street closures along E Pike in the summer of 2015 in an effort to give the entertainment district’s nightlife crowds more space and experiment with an element that could make the area safer for SPD to police. Not everybody was a fan. A few area businesses owners and developer Hunters Capital asked SDOT to reevaluate the initiative to consider a plan that also addressed the neighborhood’s daytime visitors — and customers. This summer, SDOT surveyed the community and area businesses to inform the October street closure.