2.5 Downtown

Last Updated: 4-11-2017Print page

Downtown Streets have a vibrant streetscape that supports active street-level uses and provides access to downtown businesses, residences and transit services.

  1. 3.7 Street Trees

    High demand for space limits landscaping, so street trees are prioritized. Read More »

  2. Bike Intersection Design

    Conflicts between bicyclists and pedestrians and motorists can often be mitigated with intersection design. Read More »

  3. 3.10 Transit

    Transit zones within the Frequent Transit Network will have enhanced amenities and accommodate higher volumes of transit riders. Read More »

  4. 3.2 Sidewalks

    Wide sidewalks accommodate a large number of pedestrians, creating a vibrant streetscape that supports access to businesses, residences, and transportation Read More »

Downtown Streets play a key role in the regional movement of people and goods, and designs must support high levels of mobility and activity. Lined primarily with high density commercial uses forming a continuous street wall and supporting frequent transit in many cases, these streets require wide sidewalks to accommodate high pedestrian volumes and amenities that provide comfortable and attractive public space. On-street parking and loading may be limited to off-peak hours, and these functions may be additionally supported by the presence of nearby Downtown Neighborhood Streets. High demand for space in the ROW on Downtown and Downtown Neighborhood Streets often limits green infrastructure options to prioritize street trees, both retained and new, with emphasis on canopy cover to provide optimum benefits that are compatible with the spatial requirements for other infrastructure. Sidewalk width is dictated by the Seattle Land Use Code on many downtown streets. See Map 1 C in SMC 23.49 for specific sidewalk width requirements.

Typical Street Classification

Principal Arterial

Public Space Programming 

Sidewalk cafes, Parklets, Streateries, Public Plaza Activation (special activities permit), VendingPublic Art, Wayfinding


Street trees, permeable pavement on sidewalks, bioretention where appropriate, and landscaping. See Downtown Design Standards for landscape standards.


High volumes of pedestrians, particularly on transit blocks, require 8-10’ of pedestrian clear space that must not be encroached upon by objects such as street furniture, poles, A-frame signs, and sidewalk cafes. Minimize curb cuts and driveways to maximize pedestrian safety by reducing conflict points (See Seattle Land Use Code Section F for more information on curb cuts and driveways). Pedestrian lighting (see Downtown Design Standards) is required on Downtown Streets. Marked crosswalks and visibility treatments across intersections are often present on Downtown Streets.


Protected bike lanes, as recommended in the BMP, are likely to utilize roadway near the curb.


Downtown Traffic Control Zone – freight restrictions for vehicles larger than 30 feet may be in place for many downtown streets. 


Frequent transit service on many downtown streets; connections to light rail service. Wider sidewalks are required at frequent transit network stop locations.

Curb Lane/Flex Zone

Alleys shall serve as the primary loading and parking access needs. Existing load zones shall be preserved, if feasible, to accommodate demand. Curb space is critical to serve mobility needs on Downtown Streets, therefore, loading and short-term parking may be limited to off peak hours or provided on side streets.

*Color for illustration is used to differentiate between right-of-way elements and does not represent standard color for design.