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!"


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