30 October 2008

Mickey Mouse Panhandler Traffic Hazard?!?

People. You gotta love 'em...and/or question their core motives.

I've been following the Bike Portland blog for awhile and lapping at their saucer all the while. One feature of the site that particularly intrigues is a geographical interface where users can map close calls for the community at large. A kind of google maps to alert bicyclists of trouble spots.

My work commute looked nearly free of the color-coded pins that connote reported scrapes or possible problems. The only spot that did have flags was west of the Hawthorne Bridge.

I should preface any further remarks with the following disclaimer: my daughter loves Mickey Mouse. People who know me know I love a good non sequitur; this actually isn't one. The corner in question is one typically occupied by a tuxedo-ed pan handler who wears Mickey Mouse ears and plays trumpet during evening rush hour. The kinda guy you want as the subject of your very first student film.

So I was surprised to see multiple reports citing his existence here as endangering bicyclists.

This fellow camps out on the corner in rush hour in a white suit. He waves flashy things, smiles and plays trumpet badly for tips. This activity obscures a cyclist's view and makes it difficult to see merging cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge. It also annoys drivers who inch up further from their normal stopping place, trying to see the road and get out of eyesight of this guy. When cars move forward a cyclist cannot proceed straight but must U around the hood of the car. I haven't been hit but see the potential. Please get the city to do something about this.

I've never experienced him, let's call him Goofy for the purposes of this post, I've never experienced Goofy as anything other than a delightful momentary distraction on the ride home. Back in the days of Johnny, I even tipped him a time or two for the merriment his sublimely infectious, and impossibly over-sized, mouse ears brought to my toddler daughter--needing a distraction while stuck in traffic.

But some bikers out there think the city needs to "do something about this."? As Mickey would say, "Gosh!"

21 October 2008

You heard?

There's a couple of new developments in the local bike community that have garnered much interest in the last few days. The first is the opening of the two-way bike lane through the transit center in the Rose Quarter. It's a place for bikers to meet, hang out, talk about their likes and dislikes while sipping on some great Indonesian herbals or, from what I understand, absinthe. Actually, it's a through route where once there wasn't (but, as always, there's no loading in the green zone). It's never been a major commute thoroughfare for me personally, but I know a lot of people where motivated to see this done. And now it is. I'm going to make my inaugural ride this evening. I'll report back my experiences.

So I gave the new lanes a twirl last night on the way to swim lessons at Matt Dishman Community Center. It was over before I knew it. I can say that it's a heavily biked corridor. Mostly my experience confirmed my initial reservations about bike bells.

The second bit of news of interest to bikers is the issuance of bike lights by city cops in advance of planned citations for not having them. This morning I had my first ever run in with police on my bike. Traffic was lined up at the five-way intersection at Burnside. So I did what I like to call the penta-coast through the gap in traffic on twelfth heading west on the Ankeny bike boulevard. I touched my brakes gently before cruising through perpendicular to the stopped one-way traffic. A safe move because the traffic's not going anywhere but admittedly illegal.

View Larger Map

At the front of the line was a motorcycle policeman who communicated his disapproval over his PA. "You need to be content to stop."

"Content to stop," the phrase stuck with me for the remainder of my ride. It was almost philosophical. Where else in my life could I apply this axiom. The ramifications of this reflective approach seemed endless, beyond the immediate biking application. I turned the phrase over in my mind repeatedly as I pondered it's meaning. And then I thought, "Maybe he said, 'You need to at least attempt to stop.' "

16 October 2008

you know what's great on a bike ride? fresh asphalt.

13 October 2008

Bailout = Better Biking?

Living in a state whose legislators tend to focus their energy on better shootin' and commandment postin', I was amazed to read about Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenaur's successful maneuver to attach a bicycle commuter act onto the federal bailout bill last week. I had to read the article twice to make sure I wasn't seeing things, but indeed, the $700 Billion bailout bill will also (in a small indirect way) help the plight of bike commuters.

08 October 2008

Bridge to Somewhere (Milwaukie's Somewhere, Dammit)

My morning included a mini-biathlon, running to the bike shop (Se7en Corners) and biking in to work from there. I almost made my maiden voyage over the Ross Island Bridge (the terror ride of Portland's seven metro bridges) but had sense enough to take my mechanic's suggestion and backtrack north to the Hawthorne Bridge. In so doing I passed an elementary school and was amazed by the abundance of bikes in the playground on a drizzly morning. Turns out there's a reason for this.
Had some time to kill before the shop opened, so ended my moratorium on paying 75-cents for a daily periodical (the Oregonian was less than half that when I moved to Portland seven years ago) and ponied up for some ink stains. What I was treated to were the latest artists renderings for the proposed pedestrian bridge over the Williamette.
You know, to me, the "modest" wave frame girder would be best. Given the current economic climate "showy" design doesn't seem particularly appropriate even if the project started years ago or the designs don't vary that much in expense. I also like that the girder waves invoke the waterway underneath. Hey, that was honest sentiment. No snarkiness or sarcasm. What's happening to me?

07 October 2008

It's Officially Folly

For a while there I thought we might have a four-way tie, which would have meant the somewhat cumbersome title Frank Black Sheep Folly for the new bike. Thanks to Nevik for suggesting the name.