Should vehicles be allowed through Pike Place Market?

Earlier this week, a serious confrontation occurred on the cobbled street that runs through Pike Place Market.

The altercation, which involved three motorists, a hammerhead and an injured passerby, is the latest fiasco to reignite a decades-old debate over whether Pike Place Market should remain open to cars.

Proponents of a street closure argue the space could be used to support more eating areas, shopping or simply making the area more walkable, especially at peak times. Opponents say the safety problem is solved by low speed limits and that closing parking and vehicular traffic would impede pedestrian traffic throughout the market.

To learn more about the movement for a car-free Pike Place, Sound side host Libby Denkmann spoke with Seattle Times transport journalist David Kroman.

Visitors and sellers have a wide range of opinions, and we asked sellers and our Sound side network of listeners for their thoughts on the matter. You can hear what the sellers had to say in the second part of Thursday’s segment. Here’s what our listeners told us:

  • Jo to Greenwood: I’ve seen several tourists who just don’t expect cars in dense, human places like Pike Place. In many other places here in America but also abroad, it probably wouldn’t be a general thoroughfare, but something closer to a pedestrian zone where motorized vehicle access would be restricted and reduced to “speed walking”, while pedestrians have the right of way.
  • Authorized motor vehicles may include immediate drop-off/pick-up of passengers if there is a need for accessibility, people who live there and need to go to their designated/authorized car park or garage, deliveries (possibly limited to certain times of day or types of deliveries), emergency vehicles, etc.
  • Azlin to North Bend: I haven’t been to the market for a while, because the parking lot is a zoo and the street near the market is always crowded with vehicles and people. Personally, I would like this street to be closed to vehicles except at certain times of the day when they need delivery services or to bring their products to market, preferably early in the morning.
  • Since we are in the United States, we cannot wish for a subway or even something like the monorail to be the link between a parking space and the market. It would be nice to only have non-essential vehicles out of the city center and just use the monorail type of transportation. Again, there should be a police presence due to high crime in the downtown area, if that’s the way to go.
  • Michaela: I used to bike around the market on my way to work in lower Queen Anne and fully support its closure to cars – many frustrating experiences with distracted drivers not following the rules of the road.
  • Laura in Seattle: It’s a long time coming! Only sellers should have access. It is obvious. European cities that restrict access to cars report a better quality of life in these areas. More walking, friendlier interactions, etc. Cars should not rule and set the tone for all public spaces on the street.
  • Launches in Tacoma: Seattle is a bit confusing for tourists, convention-goers, and non-Seattle regional visitors (I’ve lived in Tacoma since 1989). I would suggest big red (or water green!) buses, like in London, to drop people off at Pike Place, Seattle Center, Zoo, Green Lake, Lake Union, Ballard, etc. This would allow people to remount when they are ready for the next attraction, restaurant, hotel or business.

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