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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


Beating the Anti-Cruising Ordinance on Alki Beach (2)

Nowadays, if a guy wants to cruise Alki beach without keeping a watchful eye out for sexy beach cops, he rents a Surrey pedal car and sticks to the designated bike lane that runs parallel to Alki Avenue Southwest. A “single”, or gentleman’s Surrey rents for $20 an hour, but the experience is priceless. 

For starters, the little pedal car technically seats two, with a steering wheel on the left and a charming bell hung from the canvas roof to warn slower moving pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers and all forms of self-propelled human traffic along the strip that an intrepid young man will soon be passing on the left. 

Ding! Ding! 


It’s a sunny weekday around 3:00pm in the afternoon. At the rental hut, a local teenage stoner takes my driver’s license for collateral and has me sign a waiver. He’s the first to eyeball me in a bemused fashion as he realizes a significant other isn’t about to emerge from a porta-potty and jump into my passenger seat for a romantic cruise. 

This pleases me, as does the ad on the back of my Surrey that reads, “Follow me to *****’s Pizza!” 

Pedaling casually down the strip, it quickly becomes apparent there are definite rules of the boardwalk road, both enforced and broken by stereotypical usuals: 

1. Old man on Rollerblades traveling at a high rate of speed. He’s spent way too much time rocketing down the boardwalk and his skin is tanned to the color/texture of a baseball glove. As the new old-school boss of the cruising scene on Alki, he demands respect from his polar opposite:

2. Touristy parents in a two-person Surrey, trailing their unruly herd of adolescent children who are weaving in and out of traffic on three-wheeled pedal cars. The kids' hellion-mobiles are dubbed “Choppers”, modeled after a standard Big Wheel, but with rubber tires and chopper-inspired extended handlebars. 

I’m hanging back behind the parents in my solo Surrey to avoid running over one of their children when the old man attempts to whip past the whole mess on his blades. Of course, the children weave out of their lane at just the right time and send him careening off into the rough grass, like a leathery gazelle startled by a drunken member of the Hell's Angels. 


I pedal harder to keep up with the show. 

Of course, the old man is outraged by the aggressive faux pas and glides gracefully back to the parents to inform them there’s not enough room on the boardwalk for their children to be stupid. 

Yelling ensues, unsettling and volatile as road rage anywhere else. With several dirty shouts over his shoulder, the old man powers back up to speed, disappears into the horizon and is instantly replaced by a derivative of his character. 

Another old man, on an upright three-wheeled bicycle equipped with a basket on the back axel speeds up from behind our convoy. He pedals in frightening explosive bursts to pass on the left, dips back into the right line, waits for an opening in traffic and repeats, as is the etiquette. 

The pack of defiant children is lead by one older boy who’s hell-bent on antagonizing everyone around him. When the old man attempts to pass the gang of Choppers on the left, the boy’s random swerving derails the tricycle from the pavement to the rough grass, jarring an explosion of personal items from the basket. 

The boy’s parents yell at him half-heartedly from their Surrey. He retorts that they aren’t his parents. The adults don’t argue this point. 


I decide to pass the accident waiting to happen on the left, as is the etiquette. My Surrey wasn’t built for speed, I break a sweat pedaling madly with my bell shaking like Michael J. Fox is holding it. 


World’s worst kid disappears behind my blind spot. I check over my shoulder and merge back into the right lane. 

“Follow me to *****’s Pizza?” the boy yells, “I’m gonna follow this guy! He’s got pizza!”

I pull a U-turn and head back to the rental station. 

Despite the anti-cruising ordinance, there’s still plenty of good non-vehicular cruising to be had on Alki Avenue Southwest. It’s a good time, so long as a guy does it right. 



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