Last time I was in Seattle was about 13 years ago for the launch of the 1998 GTE Big Ride Across America. I visited last week-end (Thursday to Sunday) for a completely different reason (I’ll post on that much later), and enjoyed seeing the city again, but with a little more financial freedom. I finally got to take the Seattle Underground Tour, which I’ve been wanting to do ever since I heard about it from someone on the Big Ride. Here are some observations about Seattle from this trip:
- The Seattle space needle has a giant inflatable angry bird on it. Crazy times we live in!
- It is legal to ride bicycles on the sidewalk and their citizens take full advantage of it:
Every person operating a bicycle upon any sidewalk or public path shall
operate the same in a careful and prudent manner and at a rate of speed no
greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the
point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of
pedestrian traffic, grade and width of sidewalk or public path, and
condition of surface, and shall obey all traffic-control devices. Every
person operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or public path shall yield the
right-of-way to any pedestrian thereon, and shall give an audible signal
before overtaking and passing any pedestrian. (source)
- Half the people on the streets and sidewalks are on skateboards, and they can actually land tricks, which was something I’ve never seen before in person. I appreciated how skateboarding was more of a practical mode of transportation than an affirmation of belonging to an obnoxious subculture. Also, skateboarding seems like a practical way to get around since most of the city (that I saw) is on a perfect incline for skateboarding.
- Seattle takes public transportation seriously. So does San Francisco. Both cities are geographically bounded on the sides, and I suspect that this plays a role in influencing better city planning.
- There are lots of good places to eat. Food seemed about as expensive as that in New York City.
- Roller Girls are pretty popular in Austin, but the scene in Seattle is on a whole other level. The announcers said that there were more than 5000 people in the arena.
- Since my visit in 1998, the Gum Wall has transformed from a nuisance into a world-famous tourist attraction.
Oh, and it never rained for the four days I was in the city.