Seattle’s foot-traffic numbers have consistently gone up every year since 2011, when a city study began. Holiday shoppers and nightlife play a role.
In an effort to document the city’s walkers and create a Pedestrian Master Plan, Seattle in 2011 began counting pedestrians and bicyclists using methodology created by the National Bike and Pedestrian Documentation Project.
The spot counts, taken at 51 intersections, were conducted in January, May and September and include numbers from the afternoon peak time of 5 to 7 p.m. as well as off-peak hours, according to the city’s Department of Transportation.
The project, which counted walkers as they crossed each leg of a junction, gives insight into both seasonal and daily pedestrian patterns.
In the 2014 count, the last year for which information is currently available, a total of 246,527 pedestrians were counted, according to Seattle Department of Transportation spokesman Norm Mah.
That number has consistently gone up every year since the study began, he said via email.
In addition, data from the Downtown Seattle Association indicate that pedestrian traffic increases by approximately 15 percent during the winter holidays.
The busiest pedestrian location in 2014 was Broadway and East Pine Street, said Mah.
Joel Sisolak, the sustainability and planning director for Capitol Hill Housing, said the congestion at Pike and Pine streets is due primarily to the abundance of night life in the area.
“You have the regular friction from people bumping up against each other, and then you add alcohol, which fuels the friction, and then you have people spilling out into the street, which is a big safety problem,” Sisolak said.
In a recent pilot program, the city experimented with closing the streets to car traffic, he said.
It was a success in many ways, said Sisolak, but the ultimate answers on how to best deal with congestion will address transit, cars, bikes, parking and sidewalks.
“It will all have to be managed holistically,” he said.