Ballard Ave Mobility and Access Improvements

Updated October 11, 2022

What's happening now?

In August, SDOT installed interim street improvements on Ballard Ave NW to improve pedestrian safety and mobility and formalize temporary street improvements made in 2020.

SDOT engaged with Ballard Ave community members and businesses to understand how the interim street improvements are working. An online survey indicated overwhelming support for the improvements, which aspects people liked most, and other potential improvements to consider.

We also conducted a Public Life Survey to better understand how people are using the public spaces along Ballard Ave. Three out of four people traveling along the street are pedestrians, and the volumes of people we saw compared to pre-pandemic counts on many of our busiest pedestrian streets in Capitol Hill, Belltown, and Chinatown International District!

Project Background and Purpose

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 pedestrian-focused and business-friendly interim street improvements to Ballard Ave NW between 20th Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW around these structures. These changes included formalizing one-way traffic flow, clarifying load zones and parking areas, installing new traffic signage and curb bulbs, improving the sidewalk environment, and removing redundant and/or temporary signage. 

This effort builds on the temporary changes made to Ballard Ave NW in 2020, which converted the street along these two blocks into a one-way design and designated space in the public right of way for curbspace cafes. 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. They told us the changes improved the experience for customers and visitors and made business deliveries easier. They also asked us to help improve safety for people walking and de-clutter signs in the area. Charette recommendations were broken into three segments: short-term improvements, interim policies and allowances, and long-term permanent policies, standards, and design. The Mobility and Access Improvements are the implementation of the short-term improvements developed during the Design Charrette.

This project gives us the ability to test ideas, get feedback, and then create and refine policies citywide. After this initial project, Councilmember Strauss will host another Design Charette to reflect on what has worked well, and what needs to be revised for the interim improvements, and the long-term design of the street and café structures.  

Project Area

Described from the Leary side of Ballard Ave NW over to the Shilshole side, the formalizing changes are: 

  • In most locations, we maintained existing loading and parking on the Leary side of Ballard Ave NW. Minor changes were made near intersections with input from adjacent business(es)

  • Maintained one northbound travel lane

  • Designated loading adjacent to cafes on the Shilshole side where space and access to the sidewalk allows. Most loading is now commercial/truck vehicles only between 6 AM and 3 PM, with general 5-minute load/unload at other hours

  • On the Shilshole side of Ballard Ave NW, most existing parking between café structures remained but are now aligned at the edge of the cafes to ease access to these spaces.  

Other improvements: 

  • Improved pedestrian visibility at crossings, interim curb bulbs were designed with paint, post, and planters.
  • 22nd Ave NW and Vernon Pl was converted to an all-way stop intersections for vehicles. 

  • Flexible porous surface treatment was installed around most existing street trees to provide a firm and level walking surface.  

Load Unload sign for Ballard Ave

Planned loading designation along most of the Shilshole-side cafes. Signs will be installed on the café structures. 

Example of painted curb bulb

Example of paint and post curb bulbs 


Spring 2022

  • Outreach to Ballard residents and businesses
  • Continue design

Summer 2022

  • Begin implementation
  • Signs and marking updates
  • Decluttering and new signs
  • Install flexible porous paving

Fall 2022

  • Continue outreach and engagement with Ballard Ave community members and businesses

Project Files

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

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

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


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.