The King and the Rocket

BRIEFS The Rocket Market gets a reprieve; plus, Spokefest and MLK come to Spokane INLANDER STAFF

Touching Wheels

It was touch-and-go at about Mile 16. We were in a swarm of cyclists whizzing past Downriver Golf Course, halfway between the second rest stop at Bowl and Pitcher and the grueling climb up Doomsday Hill. So far, no real mishaps in a crowd of over 1,600 bikers riding the circuit from downtown Spokane through Riverside State Park and back for the second annual Spokefest event.

But up ahead was an older guy, a tall rider with pannier racks, a slightly crooked helmet, and one leg that bowed a little crazily outwards. He pedaled like mad, straight leg and crooked leg whirring like eggbeaters.

And every time he looked over his shoulder to check for other riders, his front wheel wobbled madly, drawing a scary double helix on the pavement.

This doesn’t look good, we thought, watching him vigilantly, waiting for the moment he lost the handlebars and sent that drunken front wheel into the spokes of the woman next to him. Busted metal, bone on pavement, blood. At the first opportunity, we sprinted past him and out of his reach.

Putting this many cyclists on the streets together seems to be asking for trouble. But, says Spokefest’s Bill Bender, there were only two mishaps reported for the entire event on Sunday, and neither involved old Weavin’ Steven. Amazing, considering the potential for clashing handlebars and overlapping wheels among the tiny kids, muscle-shirted teens, tandems, recumbents and trailers that flooded the streets.

Ignoring the 38 percent increase in ridership this year, the low accident rate alone made Spokefest II a success. Here’s to a threepeat next year.


Guitar Lab

When The Inlander tested Spokane’s nosounds-audible-from-50-feet-away ordinance at Rocket Market, we did so the old-fashioned way — with a tape measure, an acoustic guitar, a pair of ears and a singer-songwriter. To develop their new noise ordinance policy, the city of Spokane is also using Rocket Market as a test ground. They’re using decibel reading devices, the Spokane city code-enforcement team, and — at least on Sept. 26 — singer-songwriter Mark Ward.

The Rocket Market’s concert series had been shut down. Neighbors had complained, and — when police investigated — they found that Rocket didn’t have a permit for outdoor concerts. Except for a $100-anight event permit, those don’t even exist.

Rocket’s three-day-aweek musical concerts were shut down until further notice.

Further notice has arrived. Last Saturday, the Rocket Market concerts were back in full force, with acoustic rocker Matt Russell playing the re-inaugural show. “The way they get around the legality of the whole thing is they’re actually trying to use this as a test,” says Rocket co-owner Alan Shepherd. “I was impressed they came up with a way that lets us play music.”

As the musicians play (on Saturdays, from 7-9 pm), the code-enforcement team will measure the decibel reading from various distances and then whip up some charts and data sets to present to the city. Other venues may also be used as testing grounds.


I Have a Street

While Portland re-names streets after Rosa Parks and César Chávez, Spokane has finally gotten around to naming an avenue after the most famous of civil rights icons: Martin Luther King Jr. But unlike Portland — and hundreds of other cities — the Spokane City Council Monday night had to create a new street to get an MLK: an extension of Riverside east of Division running through the University District. And that’s fine. Why would we want to shed such superb street names as First Avenue and especially “A” Street to honor King? After all, he already has a national holiday, a lot of statues and streets in Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, New York, Philadelphia… — NICHOLAS DESHAIS

More than 1,600 bikers rode Spokefest this year.

Gender & Body Inclusive Clothing Swap @ Carl Maxey Center

Sat., Jan. 28, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
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