Alki car-free day, aka “Seattle Summer Streets,” report #2

(scroll down for the latest photos/info)

Lots of bikes and skateboarders as we get into the heart of the afternoon, with Alki closed to most traffic. And there’s people-watching to do, as well:

When we interviewed Mayor Nickels on Saturday (check here for our first two reports on that, with more to come tonight), he mentioned that he’d be visiting Alki during today’s car-free event – and indeed, a few minutes ago, we spotted him and wife Sharon Nickels across the street (we’ve spent the past couple hours at Alki Tully’s but are about to head out) – so we scampered out for the photo op. Also caught on camera, Bill Reiswig, president of Sustainable West Seattle, and wife Tonya Hennen, at the SWS setup near the Bathhouse, where you too can pose for a photo like this:

A crowd’s gathering for the Ryan Leech bicycle stunt show that’s about to happen across the street so we’re heading out to get video of that and more on what’s happening further along the route. More as the afternoon goes on (if you missed it, our first report is here; our coverage of the West Seattle 5K [WSB sponsor] is here).

ADDED 2:02 PM: We’ve walked the western half of the route and are adding photos. One thing different from last September’s car-free day – MANY more food and beverage vendors – like Megan and Carmen selling lemonade, iced Thai coffee and more in front of the house at 56th/Alki:

At the same spot – Alki-made Teddy Quilts are for sale:

Other vendors include BeesNeez grilling “Alaskan reindeer sausage” by the Wheel Fun Rentals kiosk:

More recreational options too, though it’s not all free. A few bucks for a round of waterfront mini-golf, anyone?

Next up, this IS free — the “Learn to Ride” corral at the Cascade Bicycle Club setup:

And if you learn to ride well enough, maybe you can be like the aforementioned Ryan Leech – caught here in mid-air (note the crowd; we also have video of him we’ll add a bit later):

ADDED 2:45 PM: So how busy is it, you ask? Heart of the beach – very. Here’s a shot looking westward:

At Spud and Slices, the lines were out the door:

The coverage continues … the street closure lasts till 5. By the way – this may be the only dog that wasn’t on the walk route when we passed by earlier this afternoon:

4:09 PM UPDATE: Walking the east end of the route in the final hour – currently pausing just past Bonair/Alki, under a tree atop the seawall, watching the Norwegian Pearl sail off toward Alaska. Still a sizable crowd in the heart of the beach zone, where we found CoolMom volunteers painting faces and sharing information about how families can be more environmentally responsible:

East of the commercial zone, the crowd thins, but bike riders, skateboarders and walkers are still out in profusion. The closure’s scheduled to end at 5, but keep in mind it will take a while for cones and signs to be removed, so don’t expect to be out here at 5:01 pm zooming along as usual. Volunteers like Julian, up at the other end of Bonair, will appreciate it (thanks to Eric Bell for the photo):

5:16 PM UPDATE: We’re at the eastern end of the closure route, just past Don Armeni, and the police here have NOT been given the all-clear to open the road yet – apparently the police at the other end are waiting until all the booths and ramps and other special setups are cleared out, so it will be a few more minutes till westbound traffic resumes on Alki Ave. While we wait, a few more photos – Pam from Nerd’s Eye View caught the “blender bike”:

Pam also wanted to know “who we thank for making it so fab and who we contact to tell them we want MORE MORE MORE car free Alki Days.” We’d point you to the mayor’s office, which we are told has been in the driver’s seat on this, so to speak: Meantime, JayDee caught a “warning” sign of sorts at Alki Tavern earlier:

And David Hutchinson photographed artist Phil Jones with a sidewalk sale of sorts:

5:31 PM UPDATE: Alki is now officially open to traffic both ways – police here on the east end of the closure zone just removed the barricades and are riding off. (video added later)

We’ll have another wrapup sometime later with more photos and video from the day — we’ll be checking with police/others tonight/tomorrow but so far, appears no major problems at all today.

15 Replies to "Alki car-free day, aka "Seattle Summer Streets," report #2"

  • Melissa May 31, 2009 (6:55 pm)

    What a wonderful event! Businesses were flooded, musicians were playing on stages set up in the streets, noisy, macho boys revving engines were nowhere in evidence, the beaches were crowded with people having fun, and a grand old time was being had by everyone of the hundreds of people I saw down there. And I had the opportunity to test ride one of those incredibly cool electric-assist bicycles. I hope this happens a few more times before the summer is out.

  • miws May 31, 2009 (7:00 pm)

    What a great day! I normally don’t do to well in crowds, but never got that allclosedinnoescape feeling, fortunately.


    Rode the bus from the Morgan Junction, transferring at the Alaska Junction, up to Admiral & Atlantic St. Walked from there, along California Av & Way, down to the beach. Then walked up to the festivities from there.


    Tried to keep an eye out for the WSB team. Turns out we were apparently close to each other, at Ryan Leech’s (outstanding) performance! I was standing behind a few people at the north end of his performance area. (The direction from which he got his running start for the amazing jump using the ramp.)


    Never had the nerve to be anywhere that adventerous on a bike myself, at any age! It got me to thinking, that I think the riskiest type of thing I ever did, was to lock up the pedal brakes on the ol’ Schwinn Stingray, to put it into a skid, and leave a mark on the pavement! ;)


    Alas, the only familiar face I saw, was incidentally, that of the Mayor. I believe it was just before noon, and was just before I reached the small restroom building near the main beach area, that is the the first restrooms, after the ones at the Armeni boat ramp, when heading that direction. I saw him from a bit of a distance, and I think he was looking somewhat towards my direction, then turning away for a second to look over to his wife, or towards the water, then he turned back as we actually passed each other, and ackowledged me, before I acknowledged him.


    I kind of wondered if he made the first move, just knowing that people will recognize him, or if perhaps, he actually remembered and recognized me from around the mid-90’s when I fairly regularly attended his community meetings, he would hold as a County Councilperson. My only other face to face since he became Mayor, was at the Junction during the street fair some years back. I think it may have been longer ago than it seems, because I seem to recall actually congratulating on being Mayor. ;)


    Anyway, after all of the walking down to, through, back and forth a bit, and probably being down at the main beach itself for around three hours, I caught the Water Taxi Shuttle to the Junction, and with no quick transfer connections, walked the additional mile back home. The feet and legs are definitely sore!


    And huge kudos the the shuttle driver! Sure, it was just one of the vans, not a full size bus, but he safely maneuvered through the practically 1/2 to 2/3 lane open to him, amidst the crowd wandering in his path, not to mention the 2 or 3 guys, sitting on the curb, drinking beer, (I didn’t notice that, another shuttle passenger mentioned it. I was just staring at them shaking my head at their idiocy inconsideration and lack of concern for their own safety.), and they didn’t even really bother to move out of the way, unless they’d had their legs fully stretched out, and simply drew them back to the curb, thinking that would be sufficient. Another thing the driver had to deal with, was a little girl (IIRC) on her little bike with the bike’s tail end, and probably a bit of her own, hanging out form a driveway, or off the curb. Once the mom realized her little one was in the way, her reaction seemed to be non-chalant, just kind of casully pulling the bike in, rather than something like OMG! My Baby!! like I might have expected. (Of course that may have been a bit of an over reaction, considering the shuttle was stopped, and not bearing down on her at a fast speed. ;)


    Anyway, the driver remained calm, and even “warned” us we were about to be jolted ahead to about 30 m.p.h. once we got past the crowded part, and continued bantering with us in a similarly humorous manner, once he didn’t have to be concenttrating on his surroundings so heavily.



  • mrsB May 31, 2009 (7:10 pm)

    It was interesting to note that this was quite different from the usual weekend Alki beach crowd, mainly families and others intent on enjoying all that Alki has to offer isn a peaceful, non-threatening way. No loud music blasting from cruising cars, no motor bikes, no gang members with pitbulls and other aggressive dogs, in short, a grand day out for all.

  • Jeris (writing from remote computer, to get away from the house!) May 31, 2009 (7:25 pm)

    Car free day was very fun…. just great all around! I have a HUGE complaint about one event at the beach. Not all the volleyball groups but this one group continues to disregard our requests to TURN DOWN the microphone/speakers when they have events. It’s like they don’t care how loud they have it! It’s only this alki association group, the others are very nice about it. I came home from car free day, 2 blocks away down 55th and have had to listed to them selling away the beach all day, talking about sponsors, some real estate agent who paid them money to talk about them, etc. It’s REALLY annoying to hear that loud and clear ALL DAY. It’s now 7:30pm and I’m still hearing them talk about some real estate agent and some other people who paid them money. Maybe writing to the blog will actually make them listen? I love all the other events and groups, it’s just this one that seem to give us the F-you every time we ask them to stop. (We’re 58 yrs old so maybe they think we’re too old to listen to us.) SO ANNOYED at this point. Thanks for giving us this venue to raise the issue.

  • Ana May 31, 2009 (7:51 pm)

    In the Slices picture the crowd outside was gathered because an eagle had dropped a fish on the deck – and it landed on my best friend and it splashed me! We had to wipe fish guts off our legs!
    Ana, age 7

  • pam May 31, 2009 (8:12 pm)

    We loved everything about Alki’s car free day — the super helpful cops, the little girls in bright helmets, the Cascade Bike Club folks, the skateboard boys at the Coastal ramp, the blender bike, but more than anything, we loved that Alki was for PEOPLE today. It. Was. Awesome.

    Thanks for your coverage. I did write to thank the mayor’s office and I’m glad to see that the other commenters (mostly) enjoyed it as much as we did.

  • Schmoopie May 31, 2009 (8:12 pm)

    My family and I biked down for the festivities today. We had the best time that we’ve had on Alki in a long time. The last time we biked down was the night the shooting occurred. It rattled our nerves, since we were very near where the shooting happened, as it happened.

    Today felt safer, and very family-friendly. We hope to have more car-free days to attend this summer.

  • Edward May 31, 2009 (8:16 pm)

    Awesome event, very busy, a success all the way around. People had fun and businesses made money (if the long wait for lunch was any indication).

  • miws May 31, 2009 (8:54 pm)

    In the Slices picture the crowd outside was gathered because an eagle had dropped a fish on the deck – and it landed on my best friend and it splashed me! We had to wipe fish guts off our legs!
    Ana, age 7″

    Ewwwwwwww!! Fish guts!! ;)



  • Jeanette May 31, 2009 (9:13 pm)

    I had a wonderful time this afternoon on Alki with my family. One of the first things I did when I got home was to e-mail the mayor’s office and encourage him to plan more car-free days at Alki this summer.

  • gidget May 31, 2009 (10:22 pm)

    I also had a wonderful day at alki today. I loved the vibe today. Everyone was just having a great day and enjoying the sun. I really enjoyed the ska band in front of Coastal in the late afternoon (4 pm-ish). Does anyone have their name? They ended with a great cover of a Streetlight Manifesto song, a NJ band that I thought I was the only one who listened to them in Seattle.

  • WSB May 31, 2009 (10:25 pm)

    Coastal had the band slate on one of their websites, to which we linked in a couple of our preview stories.

  • 56bricks June 1, 2009 (8:02 am)

    Another Nickels photo-op at the cost of constituents.

  • DoctorD June 1, 2009 (1:07 pm)


    Did you read anything folks wrote before you dropped the hate in the comments? I’m hardley the Mayor’s biggest fan, but he lives there and came down for a walk and check out the scene. So? Given all the garbage spewed last year by some of the locals, I’d want to make sure things were copacetic if I were Mayor.

    As for everyone else, I totally agree. Great vibe. The wife and I generally avoid Alki like the plague on nice days. None of the gang-bangers, Hardley Ablesons, loud car stereos and the other anti-social annoyances that drive me nuts.

    This was an outstanding experience and we’ll be sure to be back, being sure to bring our wallets, every other time they close the area to cars.

  • Alki Beach Volleyball June 7, 2009 (11:13 am)

    In response to earlier comments by Jeris:

    We apologize for any inconvenience that the event may have caused you. We regret that your complaints never made it to us or our staff. We always strive to be good neighbors and would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss this further. Being Alki residents ourselves, we understand your concern and always appreciate any constructive criticism that all our neighbors want to share with us.

Sorry, comment time is over.