Streets For People

Pike Place is the one street in the entire City of Seattle where the pedestrians do not cower in fear of the automobile.  Locals and tourists alike step off the curb and meander down the middle of the street among the crawling cars.   It’s near chaos but it works.

I disagree with those who say Pike Place would be better closed to cars.  The space would feel too empty without them, and would lose much of its irresistible messy vitality.  But more than that, the rare dynamic between cars and pedestrians that happens in Pike Place is a much needed crack in the edifice of car tyranny that gives people a taste of an alternative.

And in cities across the U.S, appetite is growing for such alternatives.  New York City is on the forefront, and incremental, small-scale modifications are already adding up to a palpable change in the urban environment.

Last summer Seattle experimented with car-free days in Capitol Hill and Alki.  In September Seattleites participated in National No Park(ing) Day, commandeering on-street parking spaces, as in the photo below.

The Seattle Great Cities Initiative has been taking an increasingly active role in this movement with their “Streets for People” campaign.  The group is putting on a Kickoff Forum event on Thursday, February 12, 5-7 p.m, at the Armory at Lake Union Park.  If you think that Seattle should have more than one street for people, go check it out.