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How to Make Your Street A Play Street

Ever wish you could temporarily close the street in front of your house so kids (and adults!) in your neighborhood could play freely and safely? Now you can!

On May 30 of this year, Seattle’s first Play Street took place as part of the new Pilot Play Streets program. Since then, Play Streets have been popping up all over Seattle, giving communities more room to play, exercise, have fun and get to know their neighbors.

So what exactly is a Play Street? In short, it’s whatever you want it to be.

Play Streets are neighborhood streets that are temporarily closed to traffic and opened up for a wide variety of activities. What you and your neighbors do in your Play Street is up to you! Possible activities include dance parties, hopscotch, jump rope, basketball, chalk art projects, potlucks, yoga, street hockey, unstructured playtime — you get the idea.

Ballard residents made the sign shown here to raise awareness of their recurring Play Street…


Want to make YOUR street a Play Street?

The first thing to do is to make sure the street you have in mind will have clear visibility from intersections at each end.

Play Streets can only be one block long and must be on a non-arterial (see this map to determine if your street is a non-arterial).

Next, talk to all of your neighbors and see if they want to join you in setting up a Play Street. Then, if everyone is on board, fill out your free application here!

Play Streets can be set up as a one-time event (i.e. street dance) or can be recurring (see photo above). So, meet your neighbors, break out the soccer balls and squirt guns, and set up your very own Play Street!


SDOT Proposes Changes to SW Roxbury Street

SW Roxbury Street is located along the Seattle city limits and traverses parts of West Seattle, White Center, and Highland Park. The roadway serves a number of purposes – from providing access to transit and schools to facilitating regional travel by connecting to roads like State Route 509. High speeds have been documented on the corridor and there have been hundreds of collisions and injuries over the past three years. With local community councils on board, SDOT launched a process to identify the issues and develop solutions earlier this year.

Typical view of Roxbury. SDOT and KC Roads will build proper sidewalks in this location.

Typical view of Roxbury. SDOT and KC Roads will build proper sidewalks through this project.

On July 31st, SDOT held the first of two open houses to discuss potential changes for SW Roxbury Street. Proposals were based on traffic data and feedback obtained during public outreach that has taken place since February 2014. SDOT has recommended a variety of treatments intended to address specific collision patterns, high vehicular speeds, a less-than-ideal pedestrian environment, and pavement issues. The goal: to improve safety for all roadway users: pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers.

A complete overview of the proposals can be found on the project webpage and we’ll highlight a few today on the Blog.

Read more »


Microsurfacing in Arbor Heights begins Monday

How does SDOT maintain Seattle’s streets? One way is through a process called “microsurfacing,” which extends the life of asphalt surfaces in good condition. The process includes applying a thin emulsion to create a protective seal on the road’s surface. This “seal coat” better withstands regular wear and prevents the need for larger, more expensive road repairs in the future.

A crew applies a microsurfacing emulsion to a residential street in the Wedgwood neighborhood

A crew applies a microsurfacing emulsion to a residential street in the Wedgwood neighborhood


The Arbor Heights neighborhood of West Seattle is the most recent to receive this microsurfacing treatment. SDOT crews have spent 4,000 work-hours since last fall preparing targeted asphalt streets in the area by filling pot holes, sealing pavement cracks and making other spot repairs. The microsurfacing itself will take place beginning Monday, August 18, and will be staggered over the area for the next seven to eight weekdays. Since the emulsion requires several hours to dry and harden after application, the road will remain closed for two to four hours. Although inconvenient, residents have been asked to leave their vehicle on the next block over on the days their own street will be microsurfaced, or avoid driving that day. Additionally, residents should avoid walking on or bringing pets onto the roadway until the sealant dries.

Arbor Heights Microsurfacing Project


Even though weather dependent, the work is expected to be complete before Labor Day. To learn more, visit our Microsurfacing Program or 2104 Microsurfacing Project web pages. If you still have questions about the project, contact Art Brochet at


Rainier Valley Summer Streets this Saturday!

The seventh annual Rainier Valley Summer Streets is this Saturday, August 16, 1:30 to 5:30 PM along Rainier Ave S from S Alaska to S Brandon streets in Columbia City.

Summer Streets turns a space that’s normally used by cars into a place for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy. It’s about opening up the city’s largest public space– our streets – for people to walk, bike, and play in. And it’s pretty amazing to see and experience all the creativity, neighborhood pride, and smiles that follow.

This little guy had a great time rocking out last year.

This little guy had a great time rocking out last year.


There’s a lot to look forward to on Saturday. The Rainier Valley Heritage Parade takes place from Noon to 1:30 PM. Plus, this year, the Seattle Police Foundation will be hosting their South Precinct Picnic as a part of Summer Streets, right on Rainier Avenue, between S Dawson and S Brandon streets! Mayor Murray will be marching in the parade and plans to make remarks at the picnic around 2 PM (alongside Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole) and at the Summer Streets Edmunds St. Stage around 2:30 PM.

But wait, there’s more!  Saturday’s events are part of an even bigger Rainier Valley Culture Fest Weekend. So be sure to check out the Othello Park International Festival on Sunday.

Check out the event activity map for a full list of Summer Streets participating businesses and organizations. Here’s a taste of the many free and family-friendly activities you’ll find:

  • Try out a pop-up (temporary) protected bike lane and check out a parklet
  • Ride over to B!kecitement Street in front of Bike Works
  • Get a refresher on the rules of the road and enter to win a $200 transit pass
  • BBQ cooking and pie eating contests
  • Art in the alley and live music
  • Balloon artists and a bouncy house
  • And much, much more!

Rainier Valley Summer Streets wouldn’t be possible without the support and partnership of the Rainier Valley Chamber of Commerce, Columbia City Business Association, Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle Police Department, and the broader Rainier Valley community. Thank you, partners!


Hit the trails! BTG provides new trails and trail maintenance for a more vibrant Seattle

The Bradford Street  connection used to be a steep, dirt trail.

What is now the Bradford Street Connector used to be a steep, dirt trail, shown in this “before” photo,  from 43rd Avenue South to Genesee Park in the Mount Baker neighborhood.

Now the Bradford connector is a smoothly paved trail segment with a switchback to reduce the grade.

The Bradford Street Connector, a BTG project,  is a smoothly paved trail  with a switchback to reduce the grade, providing easy access to Genesee Park and Lake Washington.

One essential element of making it easier to move around in Seattle is the installation and maintenance of the bicycle and pedestrian trail system across the city. Thanks to the Bridging the Gap transportation initiative approved by Seattle voters in 2006, more than four miles of new trail have been constructed and annual trail maintenance performed by the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Trail segments constructed include: the Burke Gilman Extension along Shilshole, the Duwamish Trail in West Seattle, the Lake Union Ship Canal Trail on the south side of the canal, the Bradford Street Connector in the Mount Baker neighborhood, and the Burke Gilman-Magnuson Park Spur. These segments help make connections to the larger network of trails in the city and across the region providing key links between neighborhoods.

While building the trail system is the first step, maintaining it is the second step! Bridging the Gap provides funding to help inspect the trails and make necessary spot improvements to keep them in working order. Since 2007, SDOT has inspected more than 176 miles of trail and made more than 173 spot improvements. Spot improvements include things like patching broken pavement, restoring missing signs, trimming trees, landscaping and general trail repair. In 2014, SDOT crews will inspect 40 miles of trail and make 10 spot improvements to keep us moving along smoothly!

Bridging the Gap is making Seattle a more vibrant city through improvements to roads, sidewalks, bike facilities and key improvements to key transit routes, all of which make it easier to navigate from one place to another using a variety of modes. For more information on Bridging the Gap, please visit SDOT’s Bridging the Gap Web page.


2014 Parklets Construction Update

As Seattle’s Pilot Parklet Program heats up, pedestrians around Seattle are finding new places to cool off, relax and take in the city around them.

In case you aren’t familiar with Seattle’s new Parklet Program, parklets are a way for people to transform underutilized parking spaces into dynamic park spaces that can be used by the public in a variety of ways.

Right now, there are just two completed parklets in Seattle, one outside Montana Bar in Capitol Hill and the other outside Oasis Tea Zone in the International District. But this is soon to change as these two pioneering parklets have inspired a number of other businesses and organizations to dream up designs for parklets in their own neighborhoods. Of the many submissions, 13 parklet proposals have been selected to move forward as part of this year’s pilot program – three of these will likely be completed by the end of this month! We expect the remaining 10 will be soon to follow.

The next three parklets to be completed are the Cortona Café parklet in the Central District (2425 E Union St), the City Hostel Seattle parklet in Belltown (2327 2nd Ave), and the Chromer Building parklet in Downtown (1516 2nd Ave). Check out the plans for each of these parklets below, and get ready for their unveilings over the next several weeks! To see if there is a parklet planned for your neighborhood, check out this map.















Below: CITY HOSTEL PARKLET DESIGN (image courtesy of Boxwood)



















At the end of this year, after Seattleites have had some time to get acquainted with their new spaces, the Pilot Parklet Program will conduct an evaluation to determine how effectively the program compliments and enhances the public’s enjoyment of Seattle’s streets. If the program seems to be a good fit, parklets will likely become a permanent part of Seattle’s public space programming, and more of Seattle’s businesses and neighborhood groups will have the chance to build parklets for their own communities.

Given the success of the city’s first two parklets, we expect that the Parklets Program will continue to grow, and that Seattle will soon be home to an even wider network of new, innovative and inspiring public spaces. If you visit a parklet in the next few months, and feel so inclined, send us a photo or a few words to tell us what you think about your city’s new parklets!


Once Around the Web: Fun in the Sun

Don’t forget PhinneyWood Summer Streets is this Saturday! In previous years it was always on Friday so don’t miss it! This year, among many other fun things, SDOT will be demonstrating a Pop-up Protected Bike Lane so folks can get a hands-on feel for protected bike lanes. Pretty cool innovation for Seattle! But watch this video and you’ll see how far we still have to go if we really want to be a super-bike-friendly city.

Copenhagen (or course!) is building six new bridges exclusively for biking and walking and they’ve started adding garbage baskets angled for cyclists and LED lights that indicate whether riders have to speed up to catch the green wave AND the Snake! (Just watch the video). Of course only 12% of people in Copenhagen are driving their cars (lots of construction is tying things up even more than usual) so they have the determination and the motivation to facilitate lots of cycling and cycling improvements.

For a related but different perspective, check out this from Treehugger:

Are you familiar with The Bike Design Project? You should be, because the Seattle team just won it! Their innovative bike, Denny,  just might revolutionize biking in Seattle and elsewhere. Check it out!

Five Teams. Five Cities.
The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike.

The Bike Design Project is an independent innovation platform for the urban utility bike. We’ve partnered high-level design firms with American bicycle craftsmen to collaboratively develop the next-wave urban bike. Five teams from five cycling-centric cities are competing to concept, create and champion their unique vision of tomorrow’s bicycle for the everyday rider.

This competition isn’t on paper. Each team is developing a fully functional, road-tested prototype. High design and deep craft combine to create a very real and viable end product.

Here’s the Denny in all its glory:

Why is it great for Seattle? The Weekly sums it up nicely for us:

  1. The handlebars (aka bike lock)
  2. The electric motor
  3. The lights

Seattle-based Teague and Sizemore Bicycle, in partnership with Fuji Bikes, will now move to the manufacturing phase and The Denny should be available to purchase next year. (Pro Tip! Start saving your cash now because early estimates say the price will be in the $3000.00 range.) And here’s a fun fact! On the current prototype of “The Denny” the frame is made of 3D printed metal.

Lastly, I’d like to wish a very Happy Belated Birthday to the World’s First Patented Electric Traffic Light. It just turned 100 years old on August 5th. Well, red and green did. Yellow is about 6 years younger. Enjoy these few shots from across the years. Looking good! (Dates are approximate)





Photo taken 1999. Light clearly older.




2014 (Note new bike signal)



Crack Sealing in Southeast

Right now our street maintenance crews are filling cracks in our streets as part of our Crack Seal program.

crack seal 2014Crack sealing helps keep streets in good condition. This means fewer potholes and other deterioration.

And that means we don’t have to repave or rebuild our roads as often.

SDOT fills cracks with a flexible sealant to keep out water. When water gets into pavement, it can freeze, expand and cause damage. Crack sealing is a bit like filling cracks around a bathtub with caulking – it’s a cost-effective way to prevent damage.

Just like caulking your tub or painting a wall, prepping the surface is vital for crack sealing. Our crews clean and prepare the pavement so the sealant will stick to the walls of the cracks and create a tight seal. We first sweep the street to remove dirt and debris from the surface, then we use a hot air lance to incinerate and remove material inside the cracks.

Crews use a wand to apply the sealant into the cracks, and then apply a squeegee to smooth out the material on the surface of the pavement.

The 2014 program will fill cracks on multiple arterials in Southeast Seattle. If you add up all the cracks we plan to fill this summer, they would stretch over 15 miles.  That’s about as far as Seattle’s northern border all the way south to the South Park Bridge.

Click here for more info on SDOT’s crack sealing program, including the list and map of the streets to receive crack sealing.


Better, Faster, Reliable Transit in Center City Seattle

A top priority in the City of Seattle’s Transit Master Plan – adopted by the City Council in 2012 - is to increase transit capacity, enhance transit service quality and reliability, and improve transit options for residents, workers, and visitors traveling between and within Center City neighborhoods and attractions. In response to this, SDOT conducted the Center City Connector Transit Study that evaluated a range of potential modes and alignments to provide a high-quality transit connection through downtown between the South Lake Union Streetcar and First Hill Streetcar lines.


The recommendations, released last spring, call for a City Center Connector served by a modern streetcar system running through downtown along First Avenue in exclusive streetcar lanes (or shared with buses). The connector is to include transit signal priority treatments that will hold lights green for approaching streetcars and shorten red times for streetcars stopped at intersections, and will be served by five new streetcar stops. The system will operate as two independent overlapping streetcar lines; one line between South Lake Union (Fairview & Yale avenues) and the King Street Intermodal Hub and the other operating between Capitol Hill (Broadway & Denny Way) and the Westlake Intermodal Hub.

Once built, the Center City Connector will link over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods with a streetcar system that is highly legible, easy-to-use for a variety of trip purposes, and that serves major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. The system is projected to carry up to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Last month, the Seattle City Council adopted the recommendations as the Locally Preferred Alternative for the Center City Connector, and endorsed efforts to pursue federal funding for its construction. The Federal Transit Administration has approved the City of Seattle’s request for entry into project development.

To learn more about the study, please read the Center City Connector Transit Study Executive Summary. Next steps for the Center City Connector streetcar project include environmental review, additional community outreach and input on preliminary and final design.


First Hill Street Scrabble Tournament!

Scrabble 080714

Come play! Seattle’s First Street Scrabble Tournament will be held in the First Hill neighborhood on August 12th from 4-7 pm. The intersection of University, Union and Boylston will be closed for the event.

Sixteen participants will be chosen by lottery to play in this life-sized speed Scrabble tournament. Each round will be timed to 20 minutes, and a referee will ensure rules of the game are respected. To sign up to be in the lottery, send email to

This event brings attention to the First Hill Public Realm Action Plan- a collaborative effort led by Seattle Department of Transportation, Department of Planning & Development and Parks Department and supported by the First Hill Improvement Association. This Action Plan aims to develop a new public space network in First Hill.

This particular intersection has been identified as a potential new park space and gateway to a new Neighborhood Greenway on University.

More information about the Public Realm Action Plan will be available at the event, including interim design concepts for this intersection.