People-First Streets

Great places to walk, socialize and enjoy the city

The vision

  • Greater downtown fosters a culture of strolling and vibrant street life
  • Walking is how most people get around downtown neighborhoods
  • Great walking streets offer direct connections to neighborhoods and key destinations
  • Streets are safe and comfortable for all ages and abilities, despite topography or weather
  • Downtown streets offer natural beauty and places to socialize, rest, and recharge

How we'd get there

Connect all downtown neighborhoods with interesting walking routes


  • Add greening, art, and design features to streets to create walking pathways between neighborhoods

Create pedestrian- and transit-only spaces and streets with limited or no vehicle access


  • Create superblocks that designate vehicle traffic on a wider grid

Redistribute space in the right-of-way for social and cultural activities


  • Make space for play, food vendors, cultural activities, events, sitting, places to rest

Create pedestrian routes that avoid steep hills and bridge barriers across highways and major arterials


  • Use indoor escalators to fill gaps in the network
  • Repair sidewalks and improve wayfinding around hills

Design certain streets to be open only to non-motorized travel on weekends


  • Consider making these changes on north/south avenues, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, Pike or Pine (while still permitting buses), Occidental Park, Pike Place, Bell Street
  • Use this street space for markets and cultural festivals

Rethink pedestrian crossings of wide and challenging arterials


  • Improve crossings on Boren Avenue, Aurora SR 99, Mercer Street, Denny Way

Design pedestrian-priority streets with features that slow vehicle traffic


  • Include walking- and transit-oriented businesses like grocers, prepared foods, as well as wide sidewalks, street trees, and café seating
  • Loosen up the eating/vending/drinking restrictions in the public right-of-way

How we strive for equity

  • Improve areas with higher rates of chronic disease or traffic injuries
  • Provide opportunities for cost-free experiences like strolling, sitting, and enjoying vibrant street life
  • Reflect Seattle's many cultural identities through design details, arts, and programming

icons of two people holding hands with text bubbles above their heads

What we've heard

  • Seattle’s hills pose challenges! To make walking accessible, people need to know about ways to get around them, like elevators and flat routes
  • More food! More people selling food, eating food, and making food!
  • Provide more reasons to be out at night

Great examples from Seattle and beyond

Person wearing shorts and a baseball hat walks bicycle to a bike rack in a sunny outdoor plaza with several tables and chairs with people dining outdoors on a sunny day. In the foreground, the ground is painted different colors, indicating a motorized-vehicle zone. In the background, tall trees including palm trees create shade over some of the seating area.

Lincoln Road Mall in Miami features a wide pedestrian plaza, outdoor dining, interactive art installations, and playful features for all ages.
Photo credit: Visitor7

Image looking down an walkway through an outdoor pedestrian walkway lined by tall, arching trees decorated with christmas lights. A dark blue night sky is visible through the tree tops.

A pedestrian street in Seattle's Occidental Square creates an opportunity to stroll and enjoy local attractions.

Photo of a crowded pedestrian-only street with shops, umbrellas extending into the background. Tree-lined walkway is lit up at night by streetlight and lights from the shops.

La Rambla is the heart of Barcelona's historic city center with a wide pedestrian zone with kiosks and cafes.
Photo credit: ctj71081