(scroll/refresh for updates as we add them; our pre-closure reports can be found here)
Let’s just call him “Car-Free Guy.” At about 10 till noon, making our last motorized pass along Alki to check on pre-closure developments (coverage here), we spotted him (and his pal in the background) out in the road, just east of 53rd, hooting and hollering. Will they be the most enthusiastic Car-Free Day supporters we encounter in the next several hours? Any time you’re by a computer, check back to see what we find out; we’ll be posting updates, with photos. (And if somehow you’ve missed all the advance coverage — the waterfront roadway’s closed to vehicle traffic, except buses, from California Way/Harbor to 63rd/Alki, till 6 pm, and side streets leading from Admiral etc. are marked off as “Local Access Only,” so if you’re driving down, you’ll want to look for parking south of Admiral.) 12:34 PM UPDATE: Remember, you can head north on 63rd from Admiral, but you’re going to have to turn left – this is the west end of the closure zone:
Other streets are blocked off sooner – this is 61st/Stevens (note the bicyclist heading beachward):
We’re leaving the WSBmobile in a spot south of Admiral and heading off to report, car-free, from the car-free zone, laptop, aircard, cameras, and all. (Heaven forbid they should ever have a Tech-Free Day!) P.S. If you were wondering – Duke’s is open:
(When this was first announced in late July, they were quoted in a citywide-paper article as saying they “might close.” We’ll post here if we come across anyone closed who would otherwise be open.) 1:17 PM UPDATE: We’re at Tully’s on Alki, where it’s undeniably quieter than it might be on a day like today – so said the counter folks to an inquiring customers, plus there’s the anecdotal fact we didn’t have to wait in line. Here’s what the beach looks like, looking east from the Bathhouse; lots of empty sand:
If you come down here, though, you must go INTO the Bathhouse – that’s where you’ll find (left to right) Colette, Shannon, and Kim:
They are serving up Husky ice cream during the Cones for Kids fundraiser for a Children’s Hospital guild – till 4 pm – planned for today long before the Car-Free Day plan was announced. You can go in from the front, back, or east side of the Bathhouse – there are family activities outside, too – a scooter course on the east side and (in the background) a “fishing” tank on the north side:
Though it’s quiet-ish here at Tully’s, most of the restaurants we have walked by seemed fairly busy. Notably, we haven’t seen too many people just walking right down the middle of the traffic lane that’s closed off – more than a few bicyclists, though, although they usually have their own lane anyway. And some have paused along the seawall to watch kite-surfers take advantage of this afternoon’s spirited breeze:
We’ll continue walking east shortly for more updates. (Couple non-police non-government cars just went by in the bus lane past here … walkers seemed startled.) 2:17 PM UPDATE: Now on the curb along Bonair just before it intersects with Alki (map). Lots of cars coming down the hill – they have to turn right here – more than a few coming by, too, so it appears the “local access” really is happening. Even saw a taxi while heading this way:
Biggest news so far – came across one vehicle that never did move out of the no-parking zone – got a close look at what was under its wipers. NOT a ticket – the golden notice just says you shouldn’t have been parked here and if you need to move your vehicle before 6 pm, find somebody from SDOT – the white piece of paper, by the way, is hand-lettered with “Car-Free Day Complaints” and lists a 684-something (that’s the city, usually) number. A non-city notice, perhaps?
Back closer to the heart of the beach – the most action we’ve encountered so far is over by Coastal, Slices, etc. – Coastal has the skating/biking ramp, as promised:
And a little west of there, some hula-hooping’s going on:
Next, we’re going to walk a little further east before turning back toward the business district. 3:01 PM UPDATE: Changed our plan. Decided to keep walking to the other end of the closure zone – to be able to chronicle what’s happening all along the entire stretch. If we hadn’t decided to do that, for example, we wouldn’t have met these fine folks, among the few who’ve actually set up impromptu tables in the street for the occasion:
Left to right, that’s Aaron, Carina, Debbie, and Sara. We found them hanging out in the 1600 block of Alki, “playing Scrabble and eating grapes.” Plus, they set up a pirate flag (partly visible behind them) “so nobody hits us!” (On that side of the street, it would have to be a bicycle. We’re currently stopped a few blocks past their table – in the 1300 block of Alki, on one of those delightful seawall-top benches under a shady tree – and still seeing a lot of bikers, walkers, rollerbladers, etc. Heading on toward “Anchor Park” and beyond, momentarily. 4:03 PM UPDATE: Made it to the east end of the closure, by Seacrest, about half an hour ago:
No other surprise sights along the way, just a steady stream of cyclists and walkers, like those in this shot from the semi-high-rise-condo zone:
Seacrest looked like a typically busy Sunday afternoon. We caught a ride back to the other end of the closure zone, where just for comparison’s sake we snapped another photo a few minutes ago:
Less than two hours to go and no reports of any real problems. We’re staked out for the moment right across from the Bathhouse; a little ways down the block, a TV live truck (no logo) is setting up, so you’ll probably see something on one of the 5 pm newscasts. Not planning on filing another update unless we spot something unusual between now and the end of the event – but we’ll be back to verify everything’s open when 6 pm arrives. 5:58 PM UPDATE: Heading back toward the beach to verify everything’s open again. The TV report turned out to be KING; though there was some broad hinting that “some” business owners thought business was down a bit, the only person who said that on camera was from Spud. We noticed things definitely picked up as the afternoon wore on; Cactus, for example, had an overflow crowd when we walked back to our car after 4:30.
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