Blogs Dec 22, 2008 at 4:30 pm


Hey, if Metro isn't running buses down Union, WE OWN THE STREETS.

You hear that, Sims? We're going all Mad Max now that you decided we don't deserve transit.

Word. And don't forget that Seattle was the location of the first-ever antiwar freeway blockade in US history, on May 5, 1970, the day after the Kent State Massacre. Oh, what a day that was.
I love the impromptu snow parties Seattle throws every 4 or so years. I WISH we had occasional snow in SF.
One thing about all of these violent douchenozzles is same. Alcohol. Seriously, Seattle, learn how to be happy drunks and tone down the self righteouness a little.
it was great watching all these people on capitol hill sledding and having fun as one big neighborhood group, then this morning i got to see the mess they left behind. hundreds of pieces of trash littered throughout the bellevue / denny intersection just waiting for someone else to clean up the mess.

so yeah seattle, its awesome that everyone is celebrating in the streets, but next time please remember to clean up your fucking mess afterward.
I wouldn't connect the Critical Massholes with this. They exist to spark confrontation. They're like the Westboro Baptist Church, trying to draw a foul so they can collect money from lawsuits.

Leaving those macho jerks aside, I think you've got a point. What we need is rapid transit -- real rapid transit, and then we wouldn't need all those cars to make a living.
I too enjoyed the free spirit on display at the East Denny Sledding party, where I leave nearby. A majority of the crowd was friendly and the tone festive.

But when the street uspers departed, they left their sledding implements and trash, in "epic proportions" behind. An ugly reminder of mob rule litters the intersection at Bellevue in four directions. Not pretty and not fair to the nearby residents who regularly put up with passerby trash on the 362 non-snow days a year. Who does one have to blow so we get some litter bins on Capitol Hill?

Dan, do you know?

Never mind; they'd just end up as sleds too.
Perhaps we could translate this new tradition into something larger if we close some of the streets to traffic on a regular basis as Nickels has proposed.

I propose closing pike/pine to traffic on friday night and all day saturday, except for police vehicles. This is supposing busses could be rerouted without causing too much disruption
further proof that the city lacks open squares and plazas.. there should be a sizable one or two in every 'hood (fremont, ballard, cap hill, u dist, wallingford, QA, etc).. those should be the gathering places to connect over shared experiences (snow, obama election win, protest, whatever).
Nearly one third of the City of Seattle is covered with streets. It only makes sense that people want to use that public open space. The shame is so few get to do so on a frequent basis, unless wrapped in thousands of dollars and pounds of metal.


Great minds like a think...I offer my diatribe on the disenfranchisement of the pedestrian:…

"I am amazed at the denigration of the human body in the unenclosed form of a walker or bicycle. The number of times I have been hit or near hit by cars must approach 10 in the last few years.

Good grief, I knew you fuckheads would turn this into some kind of "lol no car city" B.S.

The people who aren't driving anywhere are just staying home from work. People on the bus would take the bus anyways. There's no change going on here.
I wish the residents of Seattle would have more civic responsibility and shovel their sidewalks.
Love this thought, Eli. A much happier way of answering that eternal question: "who's streets?"

Hopefully we can keep it up in 2009.
One of my friends aptly pointed out yesterday that Seattle feels like some sort of off-world colony right now. The only people out are those who are up to some sort of mischief, or with super important business. Big trucks, crazy people and the mail are the only ones on the roads and the attitude is one of bemused wonder. It's awesome.

But yeah, clean up your sleds and shit. That's just stupid.
don't over think it, you'll take all the joy out of it.

just enjoy it
Best thing about the snow - -
Leash laws are suspended!

oh my fucking god i love seattle.
I was saying essentially the same thing two nights ago.

I said, "Wow, ever since Obamanight 08 it's like Seattle is just looking for excuses for street parties."

I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I have to hand it to the Seattle police, too. On Obama night I was drinking a bottle of champagne at Pike and Broadway. A cop came up and said, "hand me that please." I thought I was busted. But he took a pull of it, smiled, and handed it back, saying, "Just don't be driving, alright?"

That was awesome. And more or less the same thing happened a couple nights ago at Bellevue and Denny. I love it.

Well, that's all well and good, but if a car is anywhere near you, please do GTF out of the street and its way, because there is a real possibility the driver can lose all control and start using the whole road whether he/she wants to or not.

That said, people in the snow are more cheerful and friendly - including most drivers (and I've seen a lot of peds go out of their way to get stuck cars moving - so can't we all just get along? Sob).

So when you say "city", you understand there's more to Seattle than Capitol Hill/First Hill and a few blocks around the Counterbalance, right? Or does no one from the Stranger actually live outside those sacred precincts?
oh god, elenchos complaining about critical mass yet again.

street celebrations are cyclical. there was street joy during the WTO (before the police went nuts). there has been critical mass street joy in seattle for over a dozen years. there have been massive neighborhood sledding block parties during past snow storms. there may be *faster* celebrations nowadays due to txting, etc. but it doesn't feel like a unique wave of street joy.
It's lonely being the one and only person who doesn't love Critical Mass. *sniff*
There is kind of a law of physics at work here -- when the conditions make the cars go slow enough, people can start treating the right of way as their own. In this case, snow and sledders force cars to be careful, no laws required. The same thing happens on Pike Place -- pedestrians own that street, not cars, because the design forces cars to go slow. There are lots of different ways to accomplish this and we could do this in a lot more places. Check out…, or google "mental speed bumps."
Eli, Eli, Eli.
People hanging on to the driver's back bumper and sort of water-skiing behind the car . . . .
Otherwise known (in Montana, at least) as "hooky-bobbing" or (in Alaska, at least) as "ski-jogging." Eli, meet snow. Snow, Eli. Now go have a good time together.
I think you might also acknowledge the variance by neighborhood regarding what comprises acceptable behavior. Here in Ravenna, an uneasy relationship has existed the last few days between sledding families with kids and everyone else.

The sledding families tend to take over the whole hill and are visibly uneasy about, say, a group of teenagers they don't know joining in. And if you're a 30-something kid like me showing up with his own sled, they look at you like you're a child molester.

Then there are the young folks looking to use parking lots--or whatever--for brodies. I saw some very stupid older teenagers in a Chevy doing brodies right in the middle of the intersection of Ravenna Ave and 80th NE, surrounded by sledders of all ages. Very dangerous and douchebaggy.

But really, why not use the street for that? Who says the sledders get to use it? And who says the sledders have to be sober, happy families with young kids and not older, rowdier folks with a few beers in them?

It's anarchy, but I think I like it.
Great post.

In the last couple of months I've really gotten into livable streets blogs:…

After reading them for a while it really opens your eyes. A lot of what you take for granted as city living is more or less a historical accident. We didn't have to turn 1/3 of our city over for cars. If you take a top-down look at Seattle and a lot of American cities, it comes down to:

- cars. driving and parking
- buildings
- people walking
- people biking

If you care about climate change, if you care about quality of life, if you care about reducing stress, our priorities are exactly backwards.

The funny thing is that pretty much anywhere that's walkable and livable is overrun by tourists. People travel thousands of miles to experience what they ought to have just outside their front door. We just need to make more nice spaces. There are plenty of good examples to copy from. We just need to do it.

For all the good press Greg Nickels gets, Seattle is nowhere near the cutting edge in creating more nice spaces. And all the recent townhouse development is just making things worse: ugly, anti-pedestrian, and still car-centric. Sharrows don't count either. The time for hyper-timid incrementalist bullshit is over.
Ironic that it took a blast of actual cold weather to melt the notorious Seattle chill.
This is the kind of post that Charles Mudede wishes he wrote.
Eli, swell thinking. Expand into a feature?
I'm glad you provided the video links. I watched all of them and two things come to mind.

If I were still in my twenties I would be out their with them, but now that I am in my forties I would be pretty upset if those noisy kids kept me up all night (which is why I moved off Capitol Hill in my thirties).

Also, after I watched a few more of the videos, my empathy of their harmless fun, which included a snowball fight, started pelting a cross country skier with snowballs for daring to use their street for his bourgeois brand of fun.
@6 and 23
Instead of being an ignorant whiner why don't you actually join a Critical Mass? First of all, you'd learn just how wrong you are, and in the rare case that you did see someone acting out of line you can make them stop.
Had a similar thought walking past SCC yesterday...

"Wow, just a couple of weeks ago I was walking down the middle of that road to Westlake, and here life is upended again."

Saturday night didn't find me at the sledding party, but rather reflecting on how great it was to go to Cal Anderson Park at midnight on Saturday and be surrounded by other revelers, the walk both ways going down, by, or through snow covered roadways with temerity.

As the circle begins to close, I admit to being one of the few who decided to brave the roads in a single occupancy vehicle today. To be honest, I was actually disappointed to get to 15th and see the car swarm begining again.

Obama's win, like nothing I'd see. Now this, same again.

And ohh, the lack of car sound; that sure was nice.

Critical Pedestrian Mass - sooo bring it on!!!!
And start creating neighborhood squares with closed off abutting streets on the weekends - places where people can stroll through local outdoor markets. I have always thought why should I have to drive to an open air market down on Pike when I prefer to walk to one near my apt!
What does any of this have to do with getting hit by a Nerf golfball?
@Daf: I'm in the north end, in the Greenwood/Licton Springs area, and while we're a bit more of a suburban neighborhood than Capitol Hill, I saw the same sort of camraderie all over. I spoke more with the people in my neighborhood, out walking to the store or the cafe or just walking in it, than I ever have in the 5 years I've lived here. Not sure what it is - shared wonder? Shared inconvenience?

I do sort of wish that the trash and stuff hadn't marred the scene. That was one of the great things about Obama Night, was that people picked up after themselves. That needed to stay an unspoken rule, rather than a unique thing. (Also, if you stole the Dumpster lids from businesses up the hill, you might consider bringing them back.)
About the sledders vs motorist vid at Denny / Bellevue-

I was here and shot this video, and on my youtube page for this video (of the motorist confrontation) I lay out what happened, and the sledders were very very clearly in the right. But many people here hate it when others celebrate in or hang out in the streets, even if the police are OK with it.

This hill, Denny all the way down to across I-5 overpass bridge, was CLOSED. For the hour-plus I was here, no car tried to drive down the road. Because it was CLOSED. and DANGEROUS. 1 block away from where the 2 busses almost flew onto I-5 because the road was so a)slick, b)steep, c) aimed closely enough toward I-5 below a high retaining wall.

This driver was taking a man to the airport for hire. He tried to go down this road anyway. There were many sledders below. There was a crowd of people where you see them in the vid, but he was literally driving into what was a larger crowd directly in front when people began screaming and yelling and all of us in the crowd became very worried, instantly. He did not care that the road was closed and was very, very pissed off at all of us on Denny (CLOSED to CARS). Note: Bellevue traffic was not blocked. This guy's passenger was so disgusted that he got out and turned down his ride to the airport, and then called this driver's company to complain (putting it lightly).

This man seriously endangered the lives of people in this crowd and sledders below, I only wish I got more of this on tape, and the plate number, and this guy's name, and the name of his company. But, of course, when people are hanging out in the street, even a closed street dangerous for drivers, the uptight of this otherwise amazing city will assume 4 wheels in the street good, 2 legs in the street, bad (slight twisting of animal farm there).
His SUV almost sustained some broken windows, only because sledders almost sustained serious injury or death, as was obvious to anyone at the scene.
..and yes, totally, the trash needs to be cleaned up on Denny. I would help, only I live far away, my only shoes are soaked/freezing, and I did not leave any trash (if I had, I would go there, now to trash it!)
This sort of thing does look bad for the festive, but .. at least not so bad or obvious when it's getting covered in snow as people are sledding. To me at the time it was hard to tell there was much trash around. Should've been taken care of though!!
Does Seattle really have no open spaces for pedestrians? Okay...I think I begin to see where some of the animus toward automobiles comes from then. All that nice open space...but it's all for the cars...

That really bites if Seattle has few to no neighborhood parks and open spaces where people can play. Washington D.C., which I spent most of my life either in or near, and which I would not willingly drive in unless I had no other choice (which thankfully I mostly do) has tons of open park space. And not just on the Mall, but also, and more importantly, in the neighborhoods. You can't walk more then a few blocks without coming across a small park or open space.

Here in Baltimore, once upon a time, the rowhouse developers used to build their tightly packed neighborhoods to a plan that began around a small park. The rows surrounding the park would be the most nicely equipped and pricey. Further back the rows got plainer and plainer, and the lots smaller and smaller, but more affordable (there were usually street car lines involved in the plan too). The net result is that Baltimore has tons of these little neighborhood parks scattered all over the place. Alas, crime makes many of them dangerous. But they're there and when it snows out here they become busy playgrounds. But then, where the crime isn't bad, those parks are busy playgrounds all year long. I can walk to two really nice ones from where I live, one of which is on my way to work.

I'm surprised that Seattle doesn't have much open space, other then the roads. What happened that it developed like that? I'm guessing the Seattle doesn't have very much experience with snow either. Yes, it's kinda fun when everything grinds to a halt. For a while.

Hey Eli,

Check out the street life where I'm from. You won't need a parka, but you'll definitely need your kevlar.


You think I'm going to go babysit Critical Mass? Are you fucking kidding? If your mother didn't raise you right, I sure as hell can't fix you now.
Seattle has about 400 parks and open spaces comprising over 6200 acres, which is out of a total area of about 54,000 acres overall. They are spread throughout the city limits, and there are very few neighborhoods indeed that don't have a park within reasonable walking distance.

With great power comes great responsibility.
for those of you who who aren't from seattle or are too young to remember, there was a time that pike street was permanently closed to traffic in the westlake area. we voted to open that street way back in 1997(?) and subsequently saw the disintegration of westlake as a pedestrian center. one of our more boneheaded moves as a city. lets close pike again, but this time all the way up to cap hill.
So great that this concept of "street joy" is getting some attention here. I agree with others Eli, it deserves a feature. I have long thought that the ultiamte power of a street protest, whatever its motivation(WTO, anti-war, immigrant rights), is the fact that conventional relationships to public space are being disrupted. Whether the protest effects any policy change is secondary.
We should encourage further destabilization of our habitual modes of moving through urban spaces. I love the idea of closing Pike and Pine on Friday nights. The fact that the celebration occured there naturally, as opposed to elsewhere, on Obama Night should be taken as indication of the corridor's inherent potential.
another dick, with added drunkenness!!!:…
@44 Nordstrom did it. They refused to move in unless Pike was opened between 4th & 5th.
It was Pine St. not Pike.

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