Stop, look, and listen

If this is April, the Seattle Police must be obsessing over nude bicyclists.

These unclad pedal-pushers who arrive uninvited each year at Fremont's mid-June Solstice Parade are (choose one): the parade's highlight, the parade's low point, a harmless annual prank, a wicked act of indecent exposure. The cops are partial to that last definition.

Seattle's finest have requested this year that the parade's sponsors, the Fremont Arts Council (FAC), post signs bearing the legal definition of indecent exposure along the parade route. Of course, this plan has a few obvious problems. Do you have any idea how hard it is to read a fixed sign while riding a moving bicycle in the nude? And isn't posting signs illegal?

Tougher still, FAC members are more likely to be sympathetic toward the silly bikers than the snarly police. Sort of. "To us, they're kind of like mosquitoes on an otherwise lovely summer afternoon," says arts council stalwart Barb Luecke. The parade is intended as a celebration of free-spirited, fun-loving nonsense—featuring costumes, skits, and theme acts performed by anyone who can spare a couple hours. The nude bicyclists may be a parade tradition, but they're still party crashers. "We're frustrated that there's so much focus on this one issue—that's not what we're about," says FAC board president Laura Baumwall.

But, every April, the group has to get its parade permits, so the topic of biking in the buff arises again. Two years ago, the cops proposed a scheme to have the arts council post the parade route with "No Nudity" signs, allowing them to prosecute any bad bikers for trespassing under the FAC's parade permit. No, I don't understand this plan either, but it would have required arts council officials to testify in court against offenders, so the FAC declined to participate.

Curiously, the cops are 0-2 in their biker battle; two years ago, they arrested a pair of bicyclists, but no charges were filed.

No shopping zone

Although the future of Pioneer Square's Cadillac Hotel is still up in the air, the building remains upright—so why are the streets around it still blocked off?

"Yeah, and we're not using any tear gas to reopen 'em," jokes Seattle City Council member Nick Licata. "It's gone beyond a no-protest zone, it's a no-shopping zone."

Licata and area merchants would also like to see traffic restored to at least parts of Second Avenue and Jackson Street around the Cadillac (best known as the home of the Fenix Underground nightclub), which was damaged during the Ash Wednesday earthquake.

Deputy Mayor Chuck Clark says the city is waiting for a final report that the Cadillac is stable and that the quake didn't weaken the street itself. Merchant Bif Brigman says he's heard these promises before. The closed streets are "really having a detrimental effect on businesses and residents," he says.

The community has also seen its secret weapon fall short. Everyone assumed city officials would suddenly realize the value of clear streets once baseball season arrived, admits Brigman. "We thought, frankly, the Mariners would be able to get it opened."

jbush@seattleweekly.com

 
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