Ballard Ave Mobility and Access Improvements

Updated June 8, 2022

What's happening now?

SDOT is working to clarify the existing operations and parking/loading on Ballard Ave NW between 20th and 22nd Avenues NW, also known as the Ballard Ave Cafe Street. This project is entering the final design phase and we are currently engaging with community members along Ballard Ave NW to help inform our efforts to make this street more pedestrian-focused and business-friendly. If you have comments or questions about parking and loading on/near Ballard Ave NW between 20th and 22nd Avenues NW, please contact us. 

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. SDOT is planning to make 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 will include 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

Diagram of parking and curbspace changes on Ballard Ave NW

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

  • In most locations, maintain existing loading and parking on the Leary side of Ballard Ave NW. Minor changes will occur near intersections and will be reviewed with the adjacent business(es)
  • One northbound travel lane
  • Designated loading adjacent to cafes on the Shilshole side where space and access to the sidewalk allows. Most loading is planned as 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 will remain but will be aligned at the edge of the cafes to ease access to these spaces.  

Other improvements: 

  • To improve pedestrian visibility at crossings, interim curb bulbs will be designed with paint, post, and planters. 
  • 22nd Ave NW, Vernon Pl, and 20th Ave NW will become all-way stop intersections for vehicles. 
  • Flexible porous surface treatment will be 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

Project Files

June 2022 Draft Roll Plot

May 2022 Historic District Briefing

August 2021 Ballard Ave Design Charette Final Draft Report

In the News

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