Return of the Pedestrian Count

After a four-year hiatus the Market Pedestrian Surveys returned last year to compile more or less accurate visitor numbers. These surveys make it possible for the Market to trumpet the annual visitor counts with some factual back-up data, short of selling and counting tickets. The most recent counts seem consistent with the traffic patterns of the past, even with the increase of more than a quarter million cruise passengers docking nearby. Pike Place Market still hosts more than 40,000 people on the best summer days and less than 20,000 in the dark of winter.

These surveys provide some pocket change for the Seniors who do the counting at eight standard corner sites. Passages feels there are four entry points not covered and one counting site that should be relocated.

There is no counting site on lower Post Alley. This entry from the South once yielded over 900 daily entries when Harbor Steps was assessing its building plans to the South. Similarly, the open entrance from the South Arcade into the Economy Atrium misses another steady trickle of visitors. The entrance to the Pine Street Stairs on Western is not a counting site, but surely many still enter the Market through this forlorn doorway, Lastly, the elevator off Western deposits a steady supply of Market shoppers.

Arguably the counting site at Western and Virginia should be moved to First and Virginia, or at least to Virginia at Post Alley. With three or four more counting sites, the Market could capture lost visits and boost the annual numbers to an impressive ten million in time for the Market Centennial.

Another Market Survey

In an unrelated marketing survey, Market managers engaged Vance Corum of Farmers' Markets America, down in Vancouver, to run a "Rapid Market Assessment" in mid-May (visitors that day: 19,448). Four questions were posed, the first being the only straightforward query: Where do you live? The answers (via ZIP Code) showed only 35 percent of the visitors were from King County. That is the same proportion of non-King County residents who attend any Mariner game at Safeco Field.

But, Corum's questions brought together two Market PDA Councilmembers who seldom see eye to eye. In this case, Question # 2: What would you most like to see more of at Pike Place Market? brought Bruce Lorig and Theresa Alexander into agreement that any answers to that question were meaningless. They agreed the question was two questions (what did you like most and what do you want more of) with no way to determine which was answered. Defenders of the survey pointed out that the responses showed general proportions of Market attractions that appeal to the visiting public. The survey analysis found 27 percent want more 'events & entertainment'. It is unclear if the theatrical Pike Place Fish stand was in the food or entertainment category.

Questions # 3 & 4 asked where respondents did their produce shopping and their reasons for coming downtown. The universe of choices for the participants produced dubious results since the numbers disclosed no clear revelations of customer preferences or destination attractions.

Benches under the Pergola

A late June community meeting called by the PDA's departing Catherine Stanford to gain more ideas for the use and design of the North End Pergola was well attended, mostly by leaders or representatives of interested community organizations. Regular Passages readers (Passagers?) will recall last year's column on that bench removal "for repairs."

Since then Market and community groups have met and formed ideas to resolve the seating, security and information needs identified at the North End of the Market and in Steinbrueck Park. This most recent meeting dealt mainly with the redesign and use of the North End Pergola. Some new and interesting information surfaced.

The pergola was originally a trolley shelter built in 1915 by the Puget Sound Traction, Light and Power Co.

The pergola, a descendant of the original shelter, was constructed in the mid '30's and had come to need up to $70,000. in repairs. Its replacement cost is not known.

The PDA plans to "staff" the new pergola with information and/or security between 10a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except in winter).

The Market's craft space overflow uses will be considered in the design.

Most of the community leaders expressed preferences for public seating to be part of the solution. Comments are welcome from the public to the PDA before July 15. A draft report will be issued over the summer and a designer hired in the fall, when the PDA will offer design solutions to the Market Historical Commission. Costs will be shared with the city matching grants and dedicated funds in the PDA 2006 budget.

So, benches out in May 2004 may be replaced in early 2006. Thus is another example of Seattle Process placed before the city.

Paul Dunn can be contacted at: fessdunn@aol.com

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