Ballard Ave Mobility and Access Improvements

Updated July 6, 2023

What's happening now?

In August 2022, SDOT installed interim street improvements on Ballard Ave NW to improve pedestrian safety and mobility and to formalize temporary street improvements made in 2020. After installation, SDOT engaged community members and businesses through an online survey, a Public Life Study, and a charette to understand how the Phase 1 improvements were working and to inform the next phase of mobility and access interim refinements.

We heard strong support for the changes made in 2022 and requests to provide more space for people walking or rolling, further slow vehicle speeds, improve business access, and increase pedestrian visibility at intersections and accessibility  along the corridor.

We have taken this feedback into consideration and are now conducting community engagement for the second phase of interim design refinements.

Project Background and Purpose

The Ballard Ave Café Street improvements are being made through a phased and iterative process that started in 2020 as noted below. The project area is Ballard Ave NW between 20th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW.

2020 Covid Safe Starts Response: During the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants and other businesses built curbspace cafes, or pergolas, within the roadway on Ballard Ave under the Safe Starts Permit Program. Over the summer, SDOT made quick install pedestrian-focused and business-friendly interim street improvements to Ballard Ave NW between 20th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW around these structures.

Ballard Ave in 2020 showing cafe structures built in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

2021 Charette #1: In 2021, through a Design Charette hosted by Councilmember Strauss, we met with Ballard community members and businesses to hear their feedback about the changes implemented in 2020. We heard that the changes improved the experience for customers and visitors and made business deliveries easier. Participants also asked us to further improve safety for people walking and de-clutter signs in the area. Charette recommendations were broken into three areas: short-term improvements, interim policies and allowances, and long-term permanent policies, standards, and design.

View of a room with people attending a design charette

2022 Phase 1 Implementation: Phase 1 Mobility and Access Improvements implemented several short-term improvements developed during the first Design Charrette and allowed us to test ideas, get feedback through additional engagement. Phase 1 improvements included new all-way stops, interim curb bulbs and planters, flexible porous paving around street trees, and signage decluttering.

Pedestrians crossing Ballard Ave near a new painted curb bulb     People walking down the sidewalk on Ballard Ave

Cyclist riding down Ballard Ave next to newly installed planters     View of Ballard Ave showing cafe structures, tree pits with FPST, bollards, and planters.

2022 Charette #2: Shortly after the interim improvements were installed, Council Member Strauss hosted a second Design Charette to reflect on what was working well, what interim improvements needed to be revised or refined, and the long-term design of the street and café structures. We also conducted an online survey (with 1,350 people responding) and a Public Life Study for the corridor. We heard that the community overwhelmingly loved the interim improvements, wanted greater legibility for pedestrians at intersections, particularly during the evenings, and more space dedicated to seating and walking. We also observed that three out of four people traveling along the street are pedestrians, and pedestrian volumes were similar to pre-pandemic counts on many of our busiest pedestrian streets in Capitol Hill, Belltown, and Chinatown International District!

People attending a design charette

Phase 2 (2023) Implementation: Interim refinements proposed for 2023 will continue to support local business and emergency vehicle access needs, and improve mobility and access for the large volumes of pedestrians who visit the cafés, restaurants, venues, and stores along Ballard Ave. We are also coordinating any proposed changes with the Ballard Farmers Market to support the market and vendors’ ongoing success.

Phase 2 (2023) Proposed Interim Mobility and Access Refinements

  • Establishing the Ballard Ave Café Street to enhance the experience of walking, rolling, shopping, and dining on Ballard Ave.

  • Further support for freight/delivery and business access with curbside adjustments that increase load/unload zones, ADA parking, and food pick-up priority areas.

  • Increasing and defining space for people walking and rolling to accommodate pedestrian volumes and support Ballard Avenue’s draw as a major Seattle destination.

  • Improving pedestrian visibility at the intersection of Ballard Ave NW and 20th Ave NW.

  • Exploring community partnerships to add movable benches and tables in newly created public space. Addition of bike parking racks, and bike share and scooter share parking spaces to serve Ballard Ave NW.

  • Exploring paid parking on several blocks around the neighborhood to further support business access. 

  • Maintaining the one northbound travel lane on the Leary side of the street.

Proposed 2023 Phase 2 Interim Refinements:

Plan view of Ballard Ave showing Phase 2 interim refinements

Phase 2 Timeline

Winter 2022/Spring 2023

  • Phase 2 preliminary concept design

Spring/Summer 2023

  • Outreach to Ballard residents and businesses
  • Phase 2 design refinements

Summer/Fall 2023

  • Phase 2 implementation

Project Files

July 2022 Construction Notice Flyer

July 2022 Draft Roll Plot

May 2022 Historic District Briefing

August 2021 Ballard Ave Design Charette Final Draft Report

In the News

July 5, 2023, SDOT Blog, More street improvements are coming to the Ballard Ave Café Street!

July 20, 2022, SDOT Blog, Coming soon to Ballard Ave NW: improvements for people walking and nearby businesses

June 10, 2022, My Ballard, Pedestrian improvements and traffic updates coming to Ballard Ave Cafe Street  

June 9, 2022, Council Connection, Councilmember Strauss and Stakeholders Praise Next Steps for the Ballard Ave Café Street

June 9, 2022, Puget Sound Business Journal, Ballard Avenue a test of what could be next for Seattle street dining  

June 6, 2022, SDOT Blog, This summer, we’re improving Ballard Ave NW for people walking and nearby businesses 


Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.