Maybe I just hang out with the wrong kind of riffraff, but it seems every couple of months I find myself in a conversation about whether or not automobiles should be allowed on Pike Place. Once and (likely not) for all I’ll respond.
Cars belong on Pike Place.
Yes, I said it. I don’t think we should ban automobiles from Pike Place.
Saturday my family and I joined some friends downtown for an aquarium visit. Walking through the market with my stroller, I of course used the street, the sidewalks being too crowded. Hundreds of people were doing the same. Cars, bikes, strollers, people, all jumbled together but surprisingly no mass casualty situation emerged.
Judging by the ‘WTF?!? How the hell do I get out of here!?!’ expression of most drivers I made eye contact with, many did not mean to be there and wished they were anywhere else. However, there are legitimate reasons for driving on Pike Place. Maybe you are dropping off someone with mobility issues, or you’ve got a dinner party and don’t want to haul 2 cases of wine from Pike and Western Wine Shop up the hill and back home on Link, or maybe you even work for a business in the market (yes it’s not just a tourist photo op, but an actual market) that needs a delivery.
As long as automobile drivers recognize the priority of non-motorized users (which they obviously do in Pike Place), what is gained by banning automobiles? The only change I would make to Pike Place would be to either lower the sidewalks or raise the street. In Seattle’s only real woonerf* it would be nice if the street engineering matched the usage. Aside from that, leave it alone, why fix what isn’t broken?
*when people ask me what a woonerf is, I say ‘Pike Place’ and they instantly get it. Seriously. Not an exaggeration. How else would you describe the concept to a Seattleite?