Pedestrian improvements and traffic updates coming to Ballard Ave Cafe Street

The Ballard Ave Cafe Street will see some improvements this summer which will make the street more pedestrian-friendly.

Ballard Ave has been operating as a cafe street since 2020 and will stay that way for at least another year. To that end, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has been working with the Ballard Ave business community to further refine the short-term street design for the cafe street.

Now, SDOT is planning several changes to “tidy up and clarify” the current cafe street layout this summer.

Here are some of the upcoming changes (from SDOT):

  • Updating the striping on Ballard Ave NW to reflect the existing one-way northbound street. New striping and painted areas on the street will make these changes clear.
  • Adding interim “curb bulbs” with paint, flexible posts, and planters to open up intersections and crosswalks so people walking are more visible to people driving. Plus, we’ve found doing this has an overall traffic calming effect, which lowers the speed of people driving, and thereby helps improve safety. 
  • Converting the intersections on Ballard Ave NW at 22nd Ave NW, NW Vernon Pl, and 20th Ave NW to all-way stops.
  • Improving street tree pits with a firm and level walking surface. We won’t affect planting areas maintained by adjacent businesses.
  • Painting parking areas on Ballard Ave NW between street cafes for easier access.
  • Clarifying curbside loading locations and the times of day for loading based on ongoing conversations with local businesses.
Project area map along Ballard Ave NW, between 20th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW. Orange lines show parking and loading areas; blue lines show loading only areas; purple lines show street cafe areas.
Project area map along Ballard Ave NW, between 20th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW that shows locations of parking, loading, curb bulbs and sidewalk cafes. Graphic: SDOT

After the updates, Councilmember Dan Strauss will host a design charrette to reflect on what worked well and what could be improved in the long-term design for Ballard Ave.

“These improvements provide us a real opportunity to increase vibrancy, give business owners the ability to use their entrepreneurial skills, increase pedestrian safety, improve parking, and allow for the safe movement of cars and trucks,” Strauss said. “These changes formalize how people and vehicles use the space on Ballard Avenue with the focus on safety – making this street a safer place to shop, dine, drive, park, walk, bike, and deliver the freight we depend on.”

Mike Stewart, executive director of the Ballard Alliance, said the Ballard Ave changes in 2020 were “absolutely critical” to the survival of shops and restaurants in Ballard during the early days of the pandemic.

“As we move toward a post-pandemic environment, this redesign is a perfect opportunity to pilot these interim concepts and create an even more vibrant street that benefits shoppers, diners, business owners and property owners,” Stewart said.

You can learn more about the Ballard Ave Mobility and Access Improvement project here.

Photo: SDOT