Best of the Month | Extending outdoor dining and retail permits, completing pavement and safety improvements, helping students, and celebrating Black History Month

As part of the Let’s Go program, students rode bikes at one of the first bike drop-offs of 2021. Photo Credit: Seattle Public Schools.  

In case you missed it, we’re sharing highlights from the SDOT Blog each month. Here are some of our top blog posts from February.


SDOT Blog Monthly Highlights – February 2022 

1) Thank you to the 10,000+ people who took our outdoor dining and retail survey. Here’s what we heard. Plus, the program is extended through January 31, 2023! 

2) LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK | A safer, smoother, more accessible 15th Ave S 

3) We ♥ Seattle students! With your help, SDOT made it easier and safer for students to get to school in 2021. 

4) Celebrating several Black community members in Seattle and beyond – and their dedication to build stronger, more connected communities – join us to learn more! 


Please note: You can click on the headlines to go directly to any specific blog post (#1-4) – or just read on for a shorter recap of each post and a photo. 

1) Thank you to the 10,000+ people who took our outdoor dining and retail survey. Here’s what we heard. Plus, the program is extended through January 31, 2023! 

In February, we announced that we are extending the Safe Start outdoor retail and dining program through January 31, 2023. 

An outdoor dining area at NUE, a restaurant in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. A fenced eating area with red sun umbrellas is visible in the middle of the photo, with parked cars and buildings visible in the background.An outdoor dining area at NUE, a restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
An outdoor dining area at NUE, a restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Photo: SDOT

Since June 2020, Safe Start permits have helped Seattle restaurants and small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. These permits make it easier to open outdoor spaces for dining, shopping, or other uses. This past summer, we invited input through an online survey and received more than 10,000 responses! 

We created this interactive online dashboard to help showcase what we heard. A large majority of residents, visitors, and local business owners shared their support for these new spaces on our streets and sidewalks. Almost all community survey-takers (97%) indicated they regularly dine out, shop, or purchase take-out food, and 93% indicated they live, work, or frequently visit a neighborhood with outdoor cafes, retail displays, or food vendors. A large majority of people who took the survey also expressed overall support for cafés on sidewalks (90%) and in curb spaces (90%), full-block street closures for pedestrian-only dining and shopping (90%), and food trucks or carts on sidewalks (83%) or curb spaces (89%). Support for retail displays on sidewalks was somewhat lower (65%), and displays in curb spaces were also lower (59%) but still received support from a majority of survey-takers. 

We know many Seattle businesses are still struggling with COVID-19 related uncertainty and economic recovery efforts. To make sure we get this right, we worked with Mayor Bruce Harrell and City Councilmember Dan Strauss to extend the Safe Start program. This spring, we will publish a draft proposal, and the extra time gives business owners and the public ample time to read it and provide feedback before finalizing the new rules.  

Current Safe Start permit holders can expect to see draft rules this spring, which will be finalized in summer 2022 before temporary permits expire on January 31, 2023. Our proposal will include more details on the transition process for businesses wanting to continue participating. 

2) LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK | A safer, smoother, more accessible 15th Ave S 

Recently, we made some big improvements to 15th Ave S in southeast Seattle, thanks to the Levy to Move Seattle. We had everyone in mind – people walking, rolling, biking, driving, and taking transit – when we designed these improvements around Jefferson Park.   

Workers pave a new bus lane.
We created a new bus lane on S Columbian Way. Photo: SDOT 

In February, we completed work on the 15th Ave S paving project near Jefferson Park in Beacon Hill. This project repaved about 1 mile of 15th Ave S between S Spokane St and S Angeline St, as well as a section of S Spokane St between S Columbian Way and 18th Ave S. 

Paving projects like this help prevent potholes before they appear, but this project did more than just repair the damaged road. We also made important safety upgrades like new sidewalks, pedestrian safety features, curb ramps, and accessible crossing signals for people with disabilities near Mercer Middle School. The project also created the opportunity to remove and replace old drainage structures to prevent flooding and extend the life of the pavement. 

3) We ♥ Seattle students! With your help, SDOT made it easier and safer for students to get to school in 2021. 

Our vision for Seattle students is to start their day experiencing the benefits of walking, rolling, and biking to school: having fun, feeling safe, strengthening connections to their communities, arriving to school ready to learn, and improved physical and mental health.  

Map showing projects completed in 2021.

In 2021, we completed projects benefiting almost 30 different schools. The Levy to Move Seattle funds many of the projects we complete near schools through the Safe Routes to School program. These projects encourage safe walking, rolling, and biking to school with improvements like raised crosswalks, flashing lights/beacons at crossings, walkways, and signage. 

In 2021, we also helped more students get to school by public transit. In total, we distributed ORCA cards to 16,917 ORCA cards to middle and high school students in 2021. This is about 63% of all middle and high school students in Seattle Public Schools. We also opened “School Streets” to help families get to and from school safely, activated school zone safety cameras, and released the Safe Routes to School Action Plan. 

2021 was the second year of our Youth Ambassadors program, which helps youth leaders learn about public transit options and mobilizes youth to become transit ambassadors in their community. We work with two local organizations, Red Eagle Soaring and We.APP. These organizations have created incredible videos about the experiences of youth using transportation.  

4) Celebrating several Black community members in Seattle and beyond – and their dedication to build stronger, more connected communities – join us to learn more! 

We are the Seattle Department of Transportation – meaning that our core focus is on transportation, infrastructure, managing public spaces, and ensuring access to a range of public mobility options. But mobility can pertain to more than just the physical act of moving through space – it can also relate to people’s sense of belonging and inclusion in our everyday social practices.  

In celebration of Black History Month, we have been showcasing real world stories of Black people who are making a positive impact in Seattle and beyond. 

Two people enjoy rolling along Lake Washington Boulevard (a Keep Moving Street) on a clear, sunny day.
Two people enjoy rolling along Lake Washington Boulevard (a Keep Moving Street) on a clear, sunny day. Photo credit: Jeanné Clark 

We celebrate and highlight the efforts of several Black community members in this blog post, as part of an ongoing legacy of building stronger community and civic connections overall. This work builds on the legacy of those who came before us and helps light the way for future generations that will follow. 

Sharing these stories represents one important way to recognize and build greater awareness of contributions by Black community members and leaders toward strengthening community, enhancing equity, and ensuring access to public services by all people – but this ongoing effort is far from over, and there is certainly more work to do ahead.