From a summertime intro to a soggy fall varietal, this year’s Pike People Street program is a mix of what seemed to work for the first two.
First tested over three Saturdays in August 2015, Pike People Street is a program that creates a pedestrian-only portion of East Pike while attempting to activate the space for socializing, entertainment, shopping and dining.
Part of the neighborhood’s Capitol Hill 2020 economic strategy plan, Pike People Street is a collaborative effort between Seattle’s police, economic development and transportation departments, and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce and Capitol Hill EcoDistrict.
The first year of the program was criticized by a number of Pike/Pine business owners for only catering to Capitol Hill’s nightlife scene. That prompted the city to change its 2016 program to include different times of day, and often in conjunction with another event, such as the Capitol Hill Art Walk.
Getting a late start, last year’s Pike People Street was set for October. Two test days were cancelled, and one street closure complemented the chamber’s 2016 Hilloween event, allowing that year’s parade route to reach more of Capitol Hill.
Seth Geiser, with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s public space management team, said the plan is to go back to a summer-focused program this year.
Pike People Street events will take place every Saturday in July and August — not during Capitol Hill Block Party — and during Art Walk for those months.
Saturdays will be centered on Pike/Pine nightlife, but start early enough to capture dinner crowds. The schedule is currently 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., which Geiser said will allow restaurants and bars interested in offering summertime outdoor dining to participate.
The Pike People Streets during Capitol Hill Art Walk will run 4-10 p.m., Geiser said, with the hope being to add sidewalk cafes and extra space for art.
There will be more events this year than the first two years combined, and with better predictability, Geiser said.
“When we were exploring different dates and times, we definitely heard concerns like, ‘We’d like to come out and see this, but it was hard to tell when it was,’ ” he said.
SDOT experimented with street closure configurations last year, having to be mindful of parking lots and requests from other businesses. Geiser said there will just be one configuration this year, which is still being finalized.
“We’re not doing it in places where we hear people say, ‘No, we think the sidewalk is adequate here,’ ” he said, “or, ‘We don’t need street activation.’ ”
SDOT will also work to make it clear that the road closure is for a public event, Geiser said, as a number of people may have been discouraged by traffic signage. He said the department received a good amount of feedback regarding uncertainty over what was taking place beyond closed-road signs.
The need to close city streets — on top of general public safety — has also required a police presence at the event each year. Geiser said SDOT and the Seattle Police Department are in ongoing conversations regarding emphasis and foot patrols during Pike People Street events.
“That’s an entire other effort that we’re working on,” he said.
A report is expected to be released at the end of the month, which will provide a recap of the previous two years of the pilot and what impact it had on businesses and participants.