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‘Catch Your Ride Here’ — City rolls out new ‘ride-hail pickup zone’ for Pike/Pine Uber and Lyft riders

Thanks to reader Tom for the picture

There are no bike chariots part of the plan — yet — but you might notice some new geofencing going up around Pike/Pine tonight. The Seattle Department of Transportation is rolling out a new pilot of a program starting Thursday it hopes to make a permanent part of the Pike/Pine party scene — Capitol Hill’s new, one of a kind “ride-hail pickup zone.”

“Though these ridehail services provide a safe option home for many, this late-night demand for high numbers of rides can contribute to area congestion, particularly along E Pike St,” the SDOT announcement of the new program reads. “This can impact the ability of police patrol and emergency response vehicles to enter or access the area.”

Starting Thursday night, Pike/Pine customers looking for a ride with either Uber or Lyft will be directed to designated waiting areas. Your apps will “display a map notifying you of the closest pickup point.” Riders “may choose that zone or another zone or leave the geo-fence area for a ride,” SDOT says.

The geo-fencing is in effect during the highest demand times for the services: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between midnight and 3 AM. To create the pickup stops, SDOT has put in new signage restricting parking in the locations.

UPDATE: Oops! As brought up in the comments, SDOT might have a small issue on its hands. A spokesperson said the zone is intended to be in effect on Pike/Pine’s peak nights — Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. But the current signage indicates — technically — that the load only parking and the ride-hail zone is active from midnight to 3 AM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mornings. Confusing! SDOT is sorting it out.

The new program is being driven by SDOT and the ride company giants with input from the Seattle Police Department and the Seattle Office of Film Music, the city says. We’re checking with SDOT about whether the geofencing will also be in place for app services other than Uber and Lyft that riders might choose to utilize. UPDATE: A SDOT rep says this will be in place for Uber and Lyft riders only: “The pilot is only using a geofence through Uber and Lyft, and will only affect pick-ups. Other services, like taxi cabs, may also load and unload in these zones if they wish.”

There are four pickup zones in the pilot project including a total of 36 legal parking spaces that change to loading zone restrictions during the program’s hours.

The “ridehail zone” comes amid a continuing boom in the Pike/Pine nightlife economy where huge crowds can gather as last call approaches and revelers head for home.

It also comes as Seattle is moving forward on legislation that will add a 51 cent fee to every Uber and Lyft ride in the city to pay for the downtown streetcar, housing, and industry regulation. In an op-ed published by the Seattle Times earlier this month, Capitol Hill restaurant and bar owner and Capitol Hill Business Alliance board chair Joey Burgess joined Seattle restaurateurs Ethan Stowell and Taylor Hoang in support of the tax:

Last year, Uber and Lyft were responsible for 24 million rides according to city of Seattle data. And just as cities like Chicago have done, we can have a modest charge on Uber and Lyft rides, invest that revenue in housing, including housing near transit for workers, and continue to see Lyft and Uber grow in this market and succeed as billion-dollar companies.

SDOT says the pickup zone pilot period, meanwhile, is slated to last 30 days during which “the City with Uber and Lyft will monitor the program closely.” The plan is to review how things are going “and make adjustments accordingly.”

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28 thoughts on “‘Catch Your Ride Here’ — City rolls out new ‘ride-hail pickup zone’ for Pike/Pine Uber and Lyft riders

      • This is literally the worst nightmare of a person who.does not go to cap hill often and then in the pouring rain after 3 drinks has to navigate to a random cross street. How is this safer? My friend (and I’m sure many others) didnt know where she was going and ended up totally lost and confused just trying to get her “safe” ride home.

  1. love this idea. pike st is a congested mess around the time bars close.

    it’s a maximum of one block to walk.

    as far as I can tell, very few people are using cabs late at night. they’re far more expensive and far less certain.

  2. It’s a real shame this isn’t more like 5pm – 3am daily. Ubers block traffic all the time at dinner hours. But none of this will matter if not enforced. And I haven’t seen any signs at all that SPD enforces traffic laws for Ubers. I’ve seen all kinds of terribleness from them, including nearly hitting pedestrians, but I’ve never seen an Uber pulled over by SPD.

    • Agreed. I would love to see this extended to daytime hours if it goes well. Also make all food delivery services either bike/walk or park outside the area and walk in.

    • I don’t think enforcement is necessary here. The apps implement the geofencing. If you try to order an Uber from, say, Neumos right now, the app gives you four pickup places to choose from which are then presumably communicated to the driver. I doubt the driver ever knows what your original pickup spot was.

  3. They need to have these zone basically on every block on the Hill. I’m OK with giving up one parking spot on every block for this purpose. It’s so bad up and down Summit and Bellevue Avenues most nights and since neither of those avenues are well lit I’ve seen countless near misses as passengers get out while drivers are attempting to go around the Ubers who are illegally double or sometimes even triple parking.

    I don’t know why SPD just refuses to enforce traffic laws pertaining to Ubers and just in general. We could probably solve all of our funding issues if SPD just focused on enforcing traffic laws.

  4. I’d argue for turning street spots next to Fire hydrants into Uber pick-up spots. No parking is allowed there, and the Ubers could be required to move if a fire truck needs the connection.


    • Good idea! I’m curious if that would require a change in city laws, but those are spaces that are under-utilized, and setting them as 3-minute pickup zones shouldn’t cause significant issues for fire trucks.

      • The prevalent fire hydrant location in Seattle, per SPU’s protocols (& water main locations) is on the NE corner of intersections. An Uber/Lyft stopped @ a hydrant on a NE corner will make right turns there very difficult for larger vehicles: vans, delivery trucks, paratransit, buses, etc.

  5. Is anyone else confused about why they wouldn’t include Saturday night in this plan? Ending the passenger loading only rule at 3am on Saturday doesn’t make any sense. It should be 3 am on Sunday.

    • @erica, that is a terrific point. My guess is they made a mistake and meant for Sunday, because as it stands its wed-Friday night. I’ll e-mail SDOT — there is like a 37% chance they address it and fix.

      • heh, SDOT responded to me as well, the routed the request to the “LateNightPickup” team which I’m assuming did or will do for you as well.

        I gotta say, moments like these are when when the blog is at its best, kuddos to Erica

    • OMG, what idiots. I’m assuming that most of the people who do this work for the city have college degrees and they can’t figure out how the 24 hour clock works? It’s no wonder this city cannot get anything done in a timely manner. The fact that it took 18 years to get the viaduct replaced makes so much sense now.

  6. Please, please enforce this…. and not just in the Pike/Pine area Uber and Lyft drivers are *awful* about just stopping wherever they please and jamming up traffic…… they sit in front of places like Trader Joes 1/2 way in the intersection with their flashers on. Argh! just pull over to the fricking curb… if you can’t go around the block.

  7. The best way to enforce appropriate pick up and drop off is for passengers to demand that their drivers pull over before getting in or out of a car. And rating drivers poorly who don’t or won’t.

  8. This is literally the worst nightmare of a person who.does not go to cap hill often and then in the pouring rain after 3 drinks has to navigate to a random cross street. How is this safer? My friend (and I’m sure many others) didnt know where she was going and ended up totally lost and confused just trying to get her “safe” ride home.

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