Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Hawthorne Bridge performer poses safety quandary

Posted by on June 5th, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Street performer on Hawthorne-3.jpg

A women in a car struggles to see
oncoming traffic around performer Kirk Reeves.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A street performer who plays trumpet and works the evening rush-hour commute crowd on the Hawthorne Bridge has drawn attention for something other than his talents.

In a white suit, shoes, and cap, the man performs gags and tricks and bellows tunes on his trumpet while seated on a median island positioned between SW Madison Street and an onramp to the bridge from Naito Parkway (map of location).

While many people smile, slap high fives, and give him tips, his location has raised safety concerns. After receiving several emails and noticing a thread on the Portland Bike Forums about it, I decided to take a closer look at the situation.

Street performer on Hawthorne-1.jpg

Looking east. The ramp on the right is for pedestrians.
Street performer on Hawthorne-7.jpg

Looking west.

At issue is how the performer — whose name is Kirk Reeves — sets up directly in the line of sight for people in cars attempting to pull onto the bridge after stopping at a stop sign. As you can see from the photos, people in cars have a lot to worry about at that location.

They have to not only watch for a gap in the motor vehicle traffic before merging onto the bridge, but they must also be aware of pedestrians in a crosswalk just before the stop sign, and a steady stream of people on bikes that roll onto the bridge path just a few feet past the stop sign.

When I shared with Reeves that some folks are worried about visibility because of where he sits (it was difficult to have a conversation as he was performing as we spoke) he didn’t seem to think there was a problem (either that or he just didn’t stop performing long enough to hear what I was saying). “Most people just smile,” he said.

Street performer on Hawthorne-6.jpg

Reeves also produces a TV show
on a local cable access channel.

In a post to the Portland Bike Forums, a user named “brock” posed the question:

“What’s up with the guy who sits on the west end of the Hawthorne bridge every afternoon?… The one who sits exactly in the line of sight of vehicles merging onto the bridge, forcing them to inch forward into the path of all of the cyclists trying to get on the path? Pretty dangerous if you ask me.”

Another member of the forums addressed the quandary of the situation:

“I can’t really blame the guy for being where he is — it’s the place most likely to get some cash from motorists. I’d love to see him move but I can’t bring myself to ask him to.”

A friend of mine who regularly drives her car through that intersection says:

“I always stop behind the stop sign but with the performer there it’s impossible to see anything… I’m always paranoid of hitting someone and therefore wait a really long time until I’m certain no one is coming…”

And yet another perspective is that the daily smile Reeves brings is worth the potential dangers. A forum poster named, “beelnite” wrote that “He’s become part of the intersection” and that, “We can slow down and enjoy it!”.

Do you drive, walk, or ride a bike through this intersection? What has been your experience?

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  • Dabby June 5, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    I am amazed that he has been allowed to stay at this location for so long myself.

    I think it is time that he finds a new one.

    Plenty of good available corners in town.

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  • Blake June 5, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    I drive and ride through that intersection most everyday and it\’s come to be that I totally expect to see kirk their. I understand the safety concern with that being a horrible intersection in the first place but by having such a noticeable landmark ( proformer ) their everyone seems to pay attention to their surroundings a little bit more which by I mean pay attention I mean slowing down. I agree with the phrase he\’s part of the intersection. Prime location & just another way were keeping portland weird. Thats my 2 cents

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  • a.O June 5, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Mark it down: I agree with Dabby!

    As I said in the forums, he is right in the line of sight of merging motorists who look to their left to see what\’s coming in the bike lane. Bad news. Great guy.

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  • tonyt June 5, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Agree with Dabby. It was cool for a while, but he\’s been there foreeeeeeeeeever. Time to move on.

    And crossing there IS made a bit trickier by his presence. Cars have to move further up and get really close to where bikes have to get onto the sidewalk.

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  • Bridger June 5, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I understand the safety concerns here, but you\’d have to be pretty uptight to give this guy a hard time. There must be thousands of Portland locations where bushes or buildings make merging difficult and cause drivers to inch out into the interesection. What\’s so special about this case.

    The Taco Bell drive-through exit on W. Burside and NW 21st is a serious hazard to all that use that intersection — far worse, I would argue, than the trumpet guy. There, exiting vehicles routinly stop accross the sidewalk. Moreover Taco Bell won\’t serve customers without a vehicle at the drive-though. What the car-free demographic in the neightborhood gets from Taco Bell them is danger and hassle but no Tacos!

    (I didn\’t want taco anyway.)

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  • Chris Leonardo June 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    I ride across the bridge all the time and haven\’t once felt like it was a problem.

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  • Specner June 5, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    All the discussion will be a moot point once the first injury or fatality occurs.

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  • BURR June 5, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    when and if he leaves some less entertaining dirty homeless person will start begging there; I say let him be, his presence forces the motorists to be extra careful.

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  • drew June 5, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    I thoroughly enjoy his presence there when I pass by. I hope he stays right where he is. If anything it forces people to slow down and be more careful.

    The solution, if you ask me, is to simply close the on-ramp entirely and make cars go around the block to go eastbound on the bridge. I\’m only being half-facetious. It\’s a dangerous merge with or without Kirk.

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  • jeff June 5, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    \”If anything it forces people to slow down and be more careful.\”

    I disagree, I think he serves as a distraction to cars and bikes at an already dangerous intersection, not to mention blocking the view for motorists merging onto the bridge and cyclist merging onto the bridge walkway.

    I like the guy, good fun, but I wish he\’d pick another spot.

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  • Tbird June 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    just ban all cars on the Hawthorne…problem solved

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  • Jennifer June 5, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    I\’ve driven past him (in a car) many times (as well as on bike) and you have to ease out to thoroughly check for cars/pedestrians whether he is there or not. He also tends to be there during very busy times where slowly easing out without double and triple checking traffic (cars, bikes, peds) would result in a crash anyway. I hardly think he\’s a problem and I\’d hate to think that people would suggest he\’d move. He isn\’t covering the whole intersection and he\’s a cool Portland character. Everyone needs to use extra caution (cyclists and drivers) on any bridge on/off ramp anyway so spend an extra two seconds to allow this guy to keep doing what he\’s doing. I think he\’s cool.

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  • toddistic June 5, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    keep portland weird!

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  • patrik June 5, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Maybe he can take up camp on the parade route.

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  • wsbob June 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I don\’t drive or ride that route, so I don\’t have to deal with the possible visibility issue he represents. I have listened to him and talked with him. He\’s not my favorite performer by a long shot, but I respect that he\’s trying to make an honest buck in a creative way.

    I don\’t know what to think about this situation. He probably shouldn\’t be there, but again, he\’s trying to make a living. He\’s got to be pretty desperate to expose himself to those conditions.

    He\’s played in other locations too; Powell\’s West Burnside, Salmon Springs at the Waterfront, and others probably.

    I can imagine the pressure will build against him, and he\’ll eventually have to scat. Sooner or later, citizens will complain enough so that some bureaucrat or cop will get the job of coming out to roust him. Then everyone will once again have an unobstructed view of all the ugly gray concrete and cars.

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  • Martha R June 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    I\’ve been riding by there every day for years now. Cars have always crept forward into the bike route, though I have been wondering to myself whether they\’re creeping further into the bike route because of the trumpet dude or whether it just seems like they\’re creeping more…I haven\’t really decided.

    However, I do hate that little part of my commute because those drivers are so antsy. I wish that that intersection were better designed. Then again, I also wish that Mr. Reeves was a better musician (you\’d think that all those months of blowing his horn would have paid off by now). I wouldn\’t mind him obstructing drivers\’ sightlines if he produced good music.

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  • Jeremy June 5, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    while he does hinder my view a little bit, I love the guy. I say we be thankful that we have people that will sit out there with a smile on his face and wave at just about every person that goes by.

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  • Jennifer June 5, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    I\’ve driven past him (in a car) many times (as well as on bike) and you have to ease out to thoroughly check for cars/pedestrians whether he is there or not. He also tends to be there during very busy times where slowly easing out without double and triple checking traffic (cars, bikes, peds) would result in a crash anyway. He isn\’t covering the whole intersection and he\’s a cool Portland character. Quite frankly there are a few areas by my house where I have to watch carefully in order to not get run down by a cyclist but I just make sure to double check (bottom of SW Jefferson where cyclists ride extremely fast to put it mildly or the corner of SW 14th and Clay where NO ONE bothers to stop and so on). Safety is important but so is diversity and creativity. I think it\’s important that everything not become about cyclists–what a way to turn people off–but about compromise when possible. There are so many dangerous areas in Portland for peds and cyclists and maybe we could tackle some of them, not just zero in on a street performer that many people love.

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  • BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com June 5, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    The man is doing PDX a GREAT public service. He\’s making EVERYBODY pay ATTENTION, instead of rolling COMPLACENT.

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  • bahueh June 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    ah yes, yet another scapegoat for inattention and potential danger while riding a bicycle…blame the street performer who\’s not even asking people for money…by his own admission, he\’s just there to make people smile on a daily basis, rain or shine.

    when\’s the last time anyone here took the time to do that?

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  • tao June 5, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I knew you are working on this.

    I consider him being there has the traffic calming effect. As others mentioned, I notice that the cars slow down a bit.

    It would be nice to get some perspectives from the motorists. Some of us thought he is blocking the view. Is he really the problem? Is he conviently blamed because of bad engineering by simply being there? Or both?

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  • bahueh June 5, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    he\’s no visual impediment whatsoever..I ride and drive that route all the time..merging onto the bridge has always been an issue with the angle of the onramp…

    less bitching. more riding.

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  • a.O June 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    This isn\’t about whether you like the guy, respect him, or enjoy his performances. It\’s about safety. He can to the same schtick 10 feet in virtually any direction and the problem is solved. How can you be so callous about the fact that he\’s creating a risk that could get someone hurt?

    And for those of you who don\’t ride there, or have never even been to Portland, etc., he isn\’t causing people to be more safe. He\’s causing drivers to block the bike lane and to pull out assuming nothing is coming (because they can\’t see through him).

    Please get some perspective on what\’s important in life.

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  • Dabby June 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm


    Don\’t you live in Texas or something?

    He is, and has been, in the way. Sad but true.

    Doing a great public service would be to place yourself in a position that does not hinder views.

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  • Hillsons June 5, 2008 at 2:25 pm

    Now way, let him stay.

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  • SyntaxPolice June 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I\’ve been going through this intersection on bike every day for a few years. They used to have a flagger at this intersection, which was very helpful, and the paper did an article about how difficult a job that is.

    I actually wondered whether he was there with permission from the city once they decided to stop paying for the flagger.

    In my experience, with no flagger and no Kirk, cars often don\’t stop there. They roll through without looking for bikes, and you could _never_ tell if they noticed you. I\’d guess that since it\’s an on-ramp-like entrance, people feel like it\’s a yield sign and not a stop sign.

    I think Kirk does actually force people to stop and creep forward and look. My unscientific experience report is that the cars stop more often with him there, but I admit that other people\’s experience might be different.



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  • Mike M June 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    I like the guy. I tend to avoid the dangerous intersection altogether by going into waterfront park and taking the ramp up to the bridge. It\’s only a couple hundred feet out of the way, and you don\’t have to avoid cars or stop at stop signs. Plus it\’s safer!

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  • BikingViking June 5, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I\’ve found drivers who merge onto the Hawthorne bridge to be amazingly considerate. Granted, a few of them pull further forward to see around Kirk then I would like, which forces me to slow a little to access the ramp.

    Still, I would hate to think of the city backlash if we cyclists force Kirk off of his perch. In my (uninformed) opinion his presence is a minimal hazard at best. Let\’s let him stay.

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  • Steve Pappert June 5, 2008 at 2:49 pm

    bridger I know damb well you eat those tacos

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  • Moo June 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    I think with or without him there, that intersection will always be unsafe. I think that the position of the sidewalk bike/ped ramp has a lot to do with the problem. Bikes and peds. are steered hard to the right towards the very edge of the vehicle stop line while crossing the intersection, and if a motorist even moves forward three inches, they\’ll be encroaching into the bike lane.

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  • wsbob June 5, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    \”He can to the same schtick 10 feet in virtually any direction and the problem is solved.\” a.O.

    Are you serious? Look at the pictures; it wouldn\’t be intelligent or safer for him to move 10\’ to the right, left, or forward, from the place the pictures show him to be located. Maybe he could move to the east beyond the sign, but it\’s not clear from the pictures that such a location would be better.

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  • Dave June 5, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    Live and let live.
    Life is dangerous! Kirk is not responsible for your safety. ..Nor is the city. You, and you alone, are. Adjust your ride accordingly.

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  • bahueh June 5, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    a.o…yes, perspective is called for.. by you.
    you have to pull out past him to see oncoming traffic anyway. life, driving, and traveling are not risk free..should we also forcefully remove all panhandlers from every onramp and how \’bout the homeless kids on Hawthorne…I mean they really are blocking my view…

    what we need are a few less contingency fee lawyers and more personal accountability..

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  • Spanky June 5, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    I drive by him on the approach and also use the ramp very frequently and he is just not an issue. It is important to note that it is not a merge. There\’s a stop sign there. and a crosswalk and a bike lane. So there are a ton of cues to motorists to be very watchful. The timing of the ligh for the approach is such that there are significant breaks in traffic. And he does not block the line of sight that badly. All that said, even my six year old is tired of seeing him there. But I sympathisize with the guy and do not begrudge him taking the option to perform and earn. He has been in place a long time and anyone using that bridge on any kind of regular basis expects him to be there and takes account of his presence. And I agree that were it not him, it\’d be someone else, in all likelihood. Although I wonder if the city would tolerate anyone else there other than him.

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  • Mike June 5, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    I, too, drive or ride the bridge every working day, and he has never been in my line of sight such that I can not see bikes or cars approaching.
    People here seem to be mostly upset about the inconvenience of slowing down for that crossing. I have never seen nor heard of a cyclist being hit there, but rather, the vehicle being hit by a cyclist.
    Slow down a little for the crossing and it\’s no big deal.

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  • true June 5, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I haven\’t noticed a difference in car-inching-up behavior whether he\’s there or not.

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  • RyNO Dan June 5, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    I have definitely noticed the safety
    issue since the day the guy started camping there.
    It\’s a hazard. It is obviously very difficult for the
    motorized drivers to safely see around
    the guy. And he doesn\’t listen, as J
    found out. The situation is much more
    dangerous with him there than whatever
    benefit is derived. IMO that is a bad
    spot for his performance. Is it legal ?

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  • snapper June 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    My vote goes towards leaving Kirk alone! He RULES! I bike by him every work-day and haven\’t had one problem.

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  • Vance June 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    What if I wanted to set up a bike-stand there, and sell tune-ups? Would that make a difference in some folks\’ appraisal of the sitch? In spirit, how can you not enjoy the guy being there? In reality, how can you justify singling him out for benefits that others like him won\’t get? Add to this that there is a noticeable change in the traffic dynamic when he is there, and I don\’t think it\’s all that kool.

    Alas, Portland has a history of making first amendment cases out of this sort of thing. Artistic expression and what-not. Tough call. It\’d be just like this fella\’s luck to discover that that\’s technically within the Port Authority\’s jurisdiction, and find himself arm-wrestling the Homeland Security Junta. Mole-hills and mountains, and the American tax-payer. Sheesh.

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  • BikeBillboards dot blogspot dot com June 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    June 5th, 2008 15:04

    Live and let live.
    Life is dangerous! Kirk is not responsible for your safety. ..Nor is the city. You, and you alone, are. Adjust your ride accordingly.

    Oh, fo\’ shure. Complaining about this guy causing a safety issue is like motorists complaining about bikes in the road causing a safety issue.

    If you want the solution to all the safety PROBLEMS on the roadway, look in the mirror FIRST.

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  • Garin June 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Oh god get over yourselves Portland , lets be real . I ride by the guy all the time I juist use extra caution . If you have a problem with it go drink a freeking pbr and wear socks with your Birkenstocks Quit your whining. Just use some extra caution when passing him.

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  • Adam C June 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I\’ve bike through the intersection almost every day for about two and a half years. Kirk causes people to be a little more cautious there and I\’ve had problems considerably less frequently since Kirk has been there.

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  • Sarah Bott June 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    I absolutely positively agree that this fellow\’s position is a hazard for all traffic – cars, bikes, walking.

    As a driver, it\’s hard to ease onto the bridge anyway, with traffic, and his position blocks a critical view.

    As a cyclist, I am never sure if the drivers are looking at him or me (or talking on their cell phone).

    I am extremely glad this issue is being discussed.

    For those who don\’t think it\’s a hazard while biking, I think that\’s not necessarily reflective of the motorist on the other side of you. They simply may not see you and hit you.

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  • shoemaker June 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    One the one hand, Kirk is the poster child for distracting a driver: horn, mouse ears, twirly things, etc., if he was *in* your car, you\’d probably be dead by now. Sadly unable to read or reply to this story.

    It would be interesting to check the collision rate for that intersection. I always think I would explode as a driver waiting there for all the cars, then bikes, then another bike, a pedestrian, more cars and then there\’s this guy with the mouse ears..but the people who posted about their experience driving that intersection seem chill with the guy.

    He\’s not the size of an SUV, so he can\’t block the line of sight so much. If he\’s keeping the drivers paying attention to what\’s going on *outside* the car, he\’s doing the bikes and peds a big service.

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  • chris June 5, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Just put another stop sign at the intersection so everyone gets a chance to stop and donate to Mr. Reeves performances.

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  • Specner June 5, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    1. Kirk\’s job is to distract the driver and passenger of the cars waiting at the stop sign. If it wasn\’t, he would not get any money sitting there.

    2. Kirk has positioned himself within reach of the drivers side window as a car is stopped at the stop sign.

    3. The sight of a driver inching out and leaning over the steering wheel is very common, indicating that they are having to look around Kirk to see the on-coming traffic and cyclists.

    4. Kirk is sitting on a fold up stool, actually increasing his profile and further impairing the line of sight, especially from a car. Those of you driving who say there is not a line of sight issue, must be driving a truck, SUV or Hummer.

    Kirk is a good guy and brings joy to people. There are just more appropriate places for him to do it. Should I be allowed to bring in an ice cream chest or hot dog wagon complete with a big umbrella and set up in the same spot? No, but where do you draw that line? Should he bear financial responsibility if an accident results that he contibutes too?

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  • Ariana June 5, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    I drive and bike over the Hawthorne bridge regularly , I have to say that I have never felt his presence to be a safety issue. If anything he makes people smile and inspires us all to be a little more courteous, thus making it safer.

    If you want to complain about something causing safety issues, how about the current construction of the utterly pointless and redundant light rail. It makes downtown far more dangerous for bikes than a performer who is situated on the sidewalk trying to brighten our day.

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  • Paul Cone June 5, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    I\’m pretty sure the flagger was part of the Naito Blvd redo… he went away when that project ended.

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  • Dabby June 5, 2008 at 4:57 pm


    Sadly there is nothing that came be done about the atrocious and redundant light rail fiasco. It is already going forward.

    We can do something about where Kirk is allowed to perform though.

    Keeping Portland Weird, as it is way too often put, should not be done within the line of sight that keeps Portlander\’s safe.

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  • Jon June 5, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    I agree with BURR (8) – better than depressing homeless cardboard guy.

    And, I agree with drew (9) and close the Hawthorne on ramp entirely. While we\’re at it close the off ramp on the East end going down to Milwaukie too. That would totally solve all the problems!!!

    Spanky (34) makes an excellent argument against Kirk, \”even my six year old is tired of seeing him there.\”

    To me kirk is not the least bit entertaining, but I\’m a curmudgeon. So boo hoo.

    I think the Political supporters (really sad and ridiculous) who show up the few days before an election and stand at various places on the bridge Right in the line of bike/ped traffic Are the most dangerous and useless things on the bridges. Idiots like that should be pushed into the Willamette or BANNED!

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  • a.O June 5, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    \”what we need are a few less contingency fee lawyers and more personal accountability..\”

    Apparently, you don\’t know enough about the way our legal system works to know that the lawyers who do tort work on a contingency basis are helping to enforce the rules of personal accountability.

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  • joel June 5, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    i have two problems with that guy.

    1. he blocks drivers view of oncoming bike and car traffic, forces them to inch forward into the bike crossing area, and distracts drivers at a merge point with not-so-hot visibility to begin with.

    2. his schtick SUCKS. hes the human equivalent of sloppy gif animations and tags on aol webpages. think homer simpson as \”the internet king\”. bleah. busking sinks to a new low.

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  • a.O June 5, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    \”you have to pull out past him to see oncoming traffic anyway.\”

    Wrong. Without Kirk, the sight line is clear.

    \”life, driving, and traveling are not risk free..\”

    Right, but we don\’t intentionally create risks just for fun. Like Vance said, what if I want to set up a bike-stand there and sell tune-ups? What if I want to randomly shove a stick into the roadway in front of where you pull out into the street every morning. If it gets stuck in your spokes and you hurt yourself, Oh well, that\’s just the risk I take. I personally find doing that very entertaining and people occasionally give me cash for it. Your argument is ridiculous.

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  • BURR June 5, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    the drivers were inching forward into the bike crossing for years before Kirk arrived on the scene.

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  • just curious June 5, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    I don\’t care either way, but I do have a couple questions…

    Is he violating the downtown sit/lie ordinance?

    How is he really any different from \”depressing homeless cardboard guy\” seen on nearly every freeway on-ramp surrounding Portland?

    Isn\’t it just panhandling with a gimmick?

    He\’s just trying to bridge the gap between street performing and out-n-out begging. He seems well groomed and has clean clothes. I\’ll save my money for reputable charities.

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  • KJ June 5, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    A light would fix everything at that particular location, if you ask me. I realise it\’s not particularly likely or feasible, but when it\’s really busy, it also makes it easier for all the poor blokes waiting to get on the bridge from that on ramp.

    I\’m always cautious when approaching that intersection, driving or biking. I just don;t trust other drivers, ever. (Which likely makes me an annoying driver for other drivers.) I am very rarely at the stop, I\’m usually always coming from Madison.
    If Kirk isn\’t there, like others have said, someone else will be, and has been, Kirk hasn\’t always been there on a regular basis. There\’s bigger fish to fry when it comes to dangerous traffic obstructions.

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  • a.O June 5, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    \”the drivers were inching forward into the bike crossing for years before Kirk arrived on the scene.\”

    And drivers were right-hooking cyclists for years before those evil bike lanes were installed. So what\’s your point?

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  • KTesh June 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    Here\’s a question… If Kirk were to move, who or what would take his place?

    Which is worse, the devil you know, or the devil you don\’t?

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  • martin June 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    They should put a fancy bioswale there via Portland Green Streets. It would discourage people from panhandling there and be a nice little eco-friendly thingie. I drive through that intersection about 3 times per month and it does indeed hamper my vision. I also bike through that intersection about 3 times per month, but only from the Naito Parkway side so Kirk\’s presence doesn\’t affect me from there.
    I think that the cyclists that do notice me inching up in my car to look around Kirk know my plight and don\’t get too mad about it.

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  • Michael Downes June 5, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    Apart from the safety issue the guy has zero talent. Get a job, I say.

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  • ac June 5, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    As a driver and cyclist who uses the intersection daily, I think Kirk\’s milk crates (which he stacks next to his chair) create the biggest visibility problem. If you are in a regular size car you can\’t see bikers coming unless you inch forward into the bike lane. I think the city should bring back the flagger or install a light there. It was so much better for everyone when the flagger was there.

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  • cs June 5, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Let Kirk stay! As said so many times, that is a bad intersection either way. I have noticed no difference since he has been there. And even though his act may be stale, you gotta respect his dedication. That guy is out there on many a drizzly day when plenty of bikers chose other modes of transport. The mans got gusto!

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  • wsbob June 5, 2008 at 10:01 pm

    Does musician-busker cartoon cheer bringer, Kirk Reeves, located at this Hawthorne Bridge approach island stress people out, or are those that object to his presence there, stressed out already?

    Some of both probably, but based on a loose summary of the comments on this thread, it seems likely that it\’s already stressed out people that are getting worked up about Kirk, the Hawthorne Bridge musician being where he is.

    Hey Michael…Michael Downes at comment #60…if you\’ve got a decent job to offer Kirk, why not do so. Of course, since you already offered your opinion that he has \”…zero talent.\”, you probably wouldn\’t do that, or would you? Several years ago when I talked to him, I think he said he worked for Visa, Bank of America or something like that. he\’s got some skills. It\’s just hard for a lot of people to get jobs.

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  • Todd B June 5, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    Kirk also plays (or used to) at the Vancouver Farmers Market.

    I vote for closing the on-ramp to cars…that is always the conflict I worry about as cars inch forward as I pedal and zipdown the ramp.

    To the earlier post…Kirk likely is not breaking the Sit L Ord. as he is on a county bridge and not a city street R/W.

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  • Crash N. Burns June 6, 2008 at 12:35 am

    Sorry Kirk, but you\’ve got nothing on Portland\’s original street performing icon. Elvis lives!!!

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  • kirk reeves June 6, 2008 at 1:54 am

    My name is Kirk Reeves and I am the trumpet player in question. There have been several issues raised and I will try to answer them.

    First why do I do it? I started because I perform all over the city and like to perform downtown but with all the construction going on, found it hard to work downtown and on a whim decide to just try playing on the bridge. To be honest I don\’t get much money but man do I get a lot of gigs by passing out my card there. And as a side, I am probably one of the best known trumpet player whether you think I am a good or bad trumpet player. This is my opinion of myself as a trumpet player. As a trumpet player I have a long ways to go, because I have not spent enough time on the horn. It take about fifteen years on the horn to be even consider a medriocre trumpet player. The fact I get gigs and am well known both locaklly, nationall and amoung other trumpet player means I am doing something right.

    Number 2? Am I a hazard?
    So far there have been no accident. The traffic backup and condition seem to be the same whether I am there. Now you may disbelieve or believe, but I beleive I am not goign to cause any accident. People do slow down and by slowing down reduce the risk of accident. But that is not why I feel there will be no acciedent This is the only explaination I can give. First off, i am not religious and do not beluieve in God. Doesn\’t matter. God for one reason believes in me and part of his purpose for me is to bring a smile to as many people as I can. The trumpet playing has something to do with it. In 1999, just after I started playing the trumpet, I went into a diabetic coma. I don\’t know how much you know diabetes but when I was admitted to the hostipal my blood sugar was 1,278 and wnet up to 3,000 and probaby a lot more but they had no way to measure it. The most amazing thing was while I was in my coma I played my horn (I was told I play it loud but not very well)and tried to pick up the nurses. Which if you know anything about trumpet players definately makes me a trumpet player. My trumpet teacher, who is also a diabetic when he heard about this said God got plans for you and your horn. I don\’t think those plans include causing an accident at the Hawthorne Bridge.
    which brings me to the thre point.

    3. Isn\’t his act getting old. I would have thought so too. I sometimes stay away for a day only to be surprised at how many people miss me the day before. I have been playing there for a year. I hate playing in the rain and cold and snow. I would love to take those days off. I don\’t. One of the things you must do if you want to be a successful musician is you must practice, you must be constentant, and you must do it no matter how hard. So the days it is raining or cold or wet or worse iare the days I really don\’t want to do it. But I know that is a test and that is the days I must do it the most. So yeah, you may think I am doing the same thing over and over and my act is old. But practice make perfect. Also, I am aware people get bored. I am constantly adding new things. Like magic. and comedy. However, for magic to work it needs several conditions. It must big stage magic, it must be very quick to perform and it must be durable. Just today, I tried flower magic. It was very visible, it was very quick but it wasn\’t very durable. This is about the fourth flower trick I tried. And that does not count all the other magic that I tried learning that when I practiced realized it wouldn\’t succeed out there. And it takes a lot of time to learn a trick. So I have juggling, I have turning a square into a circle, I have a ball that can change color and expanding spheres and a couple of other trick and I have my music.

    4. If it wasn\’t me there there would be someone else. That is true. Until I tried the bridge, there was always a bum panhandling. One guy told me he was there for ten years. I don\’t plan to be there that long. I am bothered I have been there a year but something will tell me when the time is right to move on. I know some think of me as a beggar. You going to think whatever you want to think. I do not and never will ask you for money or anything. Of course I won\’t turn down money but I don\’t want you to feel sorry for me. I want to make you smile. One reason I perform there is it gives me a chance to practice in front of thousand of people a day. About 30,000 a day see me. That means I am playing football stadium, rock-star size crowds every day. Not many performer get the chance to perform in front that many a day. That means which I do become a big star, I have already spent a lot of time practicing and perfecting my skill in front of a large audience. Granted the audience at the bridge may see me for no more than ten seconds. (Unless the bridge is opened) But getting people to smile and like me within 10 second is no easy feat. And yes, some hate me or think I am a distraction or danger. But at the most, I get one critical remark a month. But thousands do seem to like what I do. Anybody who works sales can tell you if you only get one of of 30,000 dislikes, you are doing remarkable and have a remarkable product. Which leds me to my next point.

    4. I don\’t seen to listen to critics or that I am a distraction or danger. I actually do hear you out but honestly what do I say? Anything I tried to say will sound like I am being rude, or uncaring or a smart alex or worse. And lot of people think I\’m crazy. How much more crazy would you think of me if I said God won\’t allow any acciedents. Like I said, I don\’t believe in God and it sounds crazy to me but that is the best way I can explain it. There is another factor. I am out in the streets. And believe me the streets are mean. And if you appear weak in any way the streets will kill you. So sometimes I am rude. Especially if you seem rude to me. I will be rude back. I will be rude because that way I don\’t appear weak and that way the streets know well enough to leave me allow. However, usually I don\’t tried to be rude. I will for the most part just ignore you and concentrate on playing my music. So that is why I don\’t seem to listen.

    There are any points made but I hope I have answered the why I do this. If you have any comment or concerns you can email me. My email is

    Thank you

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  • n8m June 6, 2008 at 1:56 am

    Good freaking lord people. I ride past this guy every day to and from PSU. I always make eye contact with drivers merging into traffic. He is NOT blocking their line of sight. This is an absolutely ridiculous unfounded and paranoid OCD ridden complaint (in my humble opinion). Live and let live.

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  • G.A.R. June 6, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Kirk is an inspiration for my daughter, who also plays the trumpet. He needs a baritone and a drummer. Yes, having a three-piece band would cause the cars to go a little slower but I think that\’s OK. How about the guy selling backscratchers at 60th and Belmont? Now there\’s a distracting schtick.

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  • Chris Leonardo June 6, 2008 at 7:24 am

    I simply don\’t care about this guy doing his thing, frankly it annoys me (the ears and fake trumpet and stuff) but whatever, so does a bunch of other stuff.

    If we can coexist with a mickey mouse trumpet player on a bridge then who have we become? 🙂

    The biking community isn\’t big brother, let the guy do his thing and let\’s in turn ride responsibly

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  • ryan June 6, 2008 at 8:43 am

    You rock. When I\’m biking home and you\’re there I smile -every- time. If nothing else, thanks for that.


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  • Driveabus June 6, 2008 at 8:59 am

    Good God! Some of you folks can really build mountains out of molehills.

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  • pushkin June 6, 2008 at 8:59 am

    a.O. –

    If there was an accident is there case law that is analogous to this situation? Would it be one of those: \”but for Kirk being there the accident would have been less likely to occur…etc\”, and a foreseeable harm?

    It seems that this situation is one of those typical law school hypotheticals. Help me out here.

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  • a.O June 6, 2008 at 9:15 am

    Well, based on Kirk\’s response @ #66, it appears that he doesn\’t understand why he\’s a hazard. He doesn\’t mention the sight line for motorists merging onto the bridge not being able to see what\’s approaching in the bike lane because he\’s in the way.

    I don\’t know of any case law addressing this type of situation, but I\’m sure there is some. This isn\’t really my area of law. Someone like rixter would be better-suited to answer this.

    But here\’s the way I can see this playing out:

    Driver can\’t see biker approaching because of Kirk. Driver pulls out, hits cyclist, and claims, \”Hey, it\’s not my fault. I couldn\’t see the cyclist because that guy was in the way!\”

    Cyclist can\’t recover for her/his injuries from the driver because the jury believes the driver. That\’s a likely outcome because it\’s easy to prove you can\’t see what\’s approaching in the bike lane from that position. That\’s why we\’re having this conversation.

    Cyclist can\’t recover from Kirk because Kirk doesn\’t have any money. Kirk is what lawyers call \”judgment proof.\”

    Cyclist tries to recover against the City or County for letting Kirk sit there. City/County says, \”We didn\’t know he was there. We didn\’t know he was a hazard. You can\’t hold us responsible.\”

    The right-wing, know-nothing, anti-lawyer types complain about the cyclist trying to get money to pay medical bills from somewhere like the City when all cyclist was trying to do was get home from work.

    Meanwhile, cyclist is permanently disabled and hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

    And people here are so vapid that they actually think it\’s relevant whether you like Kirk\’s art or not or think you\’re \”uptight\” if you want to eliminate a known safety hazard that can be eliminated with NO LOSS to Kirk or anyone else. They must have a short memory, because people get injured and killed by stuff like this every day. Really, it\’s frightening how stupid people can be.

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  • Seth June 6, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I personally do not think that Kirk is a safety issue. However, maybe he would be willing to add a public service safety signal to his routine if it looks like trouble. Being as he is there for many hours, he sees all traffic situations. If it looks like a safety situation is brewing, he could signal for the car to stop? There might be some liability for him with this, dunno. just a thought…

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  • wsbob June 6, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Great piece by Kirk (comment #66)! I never would have imagined he could write something like that if I hadn\’t read it. I\’ll have to say, he\’s got a better heart than I do.

    a.O., give yourself a little pat on the back, because it seems likely to me that those with your point of view will eventually prevail, and Kirk the smiling trumpet guy at the Hawthorne Bridge approach will then get the boot.

    I don\’t disagree that some people likely have a hard time with sightlines with Kirk there; a lot of people on bikes sightline is higher than those of people driving in cars. That\’s just one example, but others probably exist.

    As I said in the earlier post, he probably shouldn\’t be there, but all things considered, maybe it\’s worthwhile for everyone for him to be there. Kirk seems to be aware of the traffic and the congestion, and points out that there hasn\’t been any accidents so far. Close calls? Maybe someone should ask him, but somehow, I doubt it, or he\’d probably say. Mostly it sounds as though already stressed out people are allowing this extra little thing to put a twist in their knickers.

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  • Geoffrey June 6, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Do we want to move this guy so that cars can get through the interesction more quickly?! I value Kirk\’s presence more than my concern for backed up car traffic.
    Is it safe? Well, cars never ever drive safe. If he wasn\’t there they would still creep into the crosswalk; don\’t kid yourself.

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  • bahueh June 6, 2008 at 11:35 am

    go get \’em A.O…rid the world of good people trying to make others smile for free…

    well done. personal accountability, by my definition, doesn\’t involve lawyers whatsoever…it involves stopping at stop signs and waiting for yoru turn in traffic…same thing could be said about all those pesky bikers riding in the eastbound bike lane, blocking the view of merging drivers…

    maybe its time to write him a citizen citation!!! since you seem to have so much free time..

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  • Matt Picio June 6, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Kirk, thanks for posting your point of view. I also have concerns about the safety of your positioning on the bridge, but I really like seeing you out there on the Hawthorne, because you exemplify Portland\’s \”spirit of weird\”, and brighten my day with your playing, which is heartfelt.

    My understanding from the Multnomah County Bike/Ped Advisory Committee Meetings is that the county (who owns the bridge) considers Kirk\’s presence on the bridge to be a traffic hazard, and that Kirk was asked (or encouraged) to leave the bridge, or at least to move to somewhere not in the direct line of sight. (full disclosure: I am a member of that committee, but the opinions I speak here are mine, not those of the committee, or Multnomah County) To address the safety concerns of members of the public, I wish that Kirk would move about 20\’ further down the ramp (towards Naito), but I\’d hate to see him not on the bridge. While some decry his performance as being \”old\”, I really admire his dedication to being out there day after day, playing his trumpet. A healthy city has street performers, and Portland is still a very healthy, vibrant city. I really hope that some sort of accommodation can be reached that allows Kirk to continue playing on the bridge while addressing the safety concerns of the city and county.

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  • Abbey June 6, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I think safety is the priority, regardless of how nice a person kirk is, but it don’t think it’s necessary to kick him out. As some people mentioned, he’d likely be replaced by beggars – so it’s not going to help the safety issue. Why not install a large convex mirror (similar to the kind used in stores to make sure you aren’t stealing) so that cars can easily see around the performer? Also, include a sign right below it to remind drivers to watch for bicyclists. I’m always surprised these aren’t more commonly installed at accident-prone intersections.

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  • Dabby June 6, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    It is (sadly) a necessity that he be moved.
    No amount of street performing or panhandling over rides safety. (And he is a street performer and a panhandler, no matter how he puts it)

    As A.O. points out, he does not reference at all in his comment the safety issue of where he sits.

    This is most likely because he knows it is not a safe place for him to be, and directly referencing this would be self incriminating.

    It will come to pass that he will be forced to move, and you will all be able to ride by him and wave, albeit at a spot safe for all concerned.

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  • Arty June 6, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    That is a dangerous intersection even without Kirk performing there. I love his performance, but not if it\’s unsafe.

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  • Jacob June 6, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    I have never felt threatened by his presence.

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  • Deb June 6, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I\’ve never felt threatened by the cars, or Kirk\’s presence. But, like others I use the park approch & sidewalk to get on the bridge. I want that 10 inch high sidewalk to hopefully stop the inattentive drivers.

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  • mark June 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    oh Kirk, we don\’t think you\’re a \”smart alex\” you\’re a good guy. However, there are better places to camp out. I have almost gotten hit there several times, because the person in the car was pulling forward and craning their neck to see if anyone was coming through the bike lane. that\’s a dangerous intersection already, his being there really just makes it worse. I would like to see him across from Powell\’s again.

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  • Martha S. June 6, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Honestly I\’ve never had any issue. Admittedly I cross the bridge only rarely, but the intersection has never seemed less safe when he was there.

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  • revphil June 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    never been a problem for me either.

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  • wsbob June 6, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I\’ve studied the pictures again, and as a result, more or less agree that Kirk is blocking the key sightline for vehicles attempting to stop behind the stop sign, as they should. Obviously, judging from the comments here, many people are adapting to the situation just fine, but it\’s probably not reasonable or especially safe to expect everyone to be able to do as they do.

    I kind of hate to see him have to go, but that would probably be best. It might help if someone showed him the pics from this thread. People are probably right in saying that if he\’s gone, something worse will show up. I don\’t know what you do about that kind of eventuality. Maybe put up an electric fence like they use for livestock? That would be cold, now wouldn\’t it… .

    Not that anyone\’s asked, but I take my remark about people getting their knickers in a twist over Kirk being in their sightline, and apologize if anyone was annoyed.

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  • zilfondel June 6, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Ironically, I feel that he makes the intersection safer, because cars are forced to stop and slowly inch forward, checking the lane, bike lane, and sidewalk before proceeding.

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  • wsbob June 7, 2008 at 12:19 am

    Look at the pictures: It\’s hard to know exactly how people are handling the visual obstruction he represents, but the pictures give some idea; Anybody reading, do you think the guy in the blue-green jeep is looking over Kirk\’s left shoulder, or past his back at the cyclist? Or, alternating back and forth?

    Seems like he has just a narrow angle of vision to a point way down the road, viewed over Kirk\’s left shoulder. To see a closer point down the road, but not as close as where the cyclist is, he\’s probably got to move past the stop sign like the lady in the blue car has done. It\’s hard to tell very well from the pics above, but it looks like the front end of a car doing that would be intruding into the area where bikes from the lane would turn to get on the bridge bike path.

    People are managing, but there\’s probably a genuine risk. So then it becomes a question of whether the benefits justify the risk. Apparently enough people like him there or he would have been gone long ago. I\’d just as soon he could stay, but then I don\’t have to negotiate that stretch of road, so it\’s easy for me to say.

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  • Donald June 7, 2008 at 12:47 am

    I\’ll see Monday, but I\’m assuming I\’ll be riding this onramp to the eastside until the Navy goes back to dumping offshore garbage and pinging hapless cetaceans. Before the boys in white cede the waterfront back to the civilians, I\’ll attempt to take a bike\’s eye view of this alleged trumpeting troublemaker.

    As a driver coming off Front, I\’ve encountered him three times if memory serves right. Each time, pressured by the imagined cursing of traffic astern and the real danger of traffic crossing amidships, I\’ve remarked to my passenger: Dag, I hope there\’s not a bike hiding back there.

    Remember, visually, he\’s not just as wide as his girth: He\’s the point of a cone.

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  • Andrew June 7, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    I ride over the Hawthorne every weekday and I\’ve never considered this guy a hazard. I like his presence there.

    He\’s not a hazard, but the intersection is. I\’ve driven up that ramp in my small car many times, and I always feel that in order to see oncoming traffic I need to nose into the bike lane, which (as a cyclist) I hate to do.

    The intersection sucks, Kirk\’s all right.

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  • meredith June 7, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    i got hit by a car on my bike there:
    it was a rainy day, and i was wearing a safety vest for the first time ever.

    but thats not the point, the point is Kirk was not there that day! but i still got hit….its just a dangerous spot period, regardless of trumpet players…

    cars merging on are looking first and foremost for cars, then for bicyclists as an afterthought…or at least thats how it appears to me as a commuter…luckily they dont have too much speed as they run into you

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  • Garin June 7, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Deal with it people.I am certain that you all could be focusing your attention on something else that has MORE of a impact on your daily bike commuting lives. Please move along , there is nothing to see here.Kirk you keep blowing your horn man,you do FAR more good than you do bad by being where you are doing your thing.
    Why don\’t all you people bitching about this go ……away ? Go bitch about how you are going to pack up your precious cigarettes in January 2009 and not be able to smoke in bars anymore, or better yet , GO ON A BIKE RIDE AND GET SOME FRESH AIR TO KNOCK SOME SENSE INTO YOU.

    keep the dirty side down .

    Love , Garin

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  • edukator June 8, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    I\’ve ridden past him during heavy traffic, I\’ve not once felt/thought he participated in making me any less safe-

    I have also, seen plenty of riders go by with me- Usually leisurely riders give a nod and a smile and keep going. The spandex-kits and business commuters may look more serious as the ride past. Everyone looks for cars.

    Geez there are way worse placed bus stations, fences, bushes, trees etc.. all through out Portland.

    I see no problem.

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  • Jon June 8, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    I\’m always afraid that as I cross in front of the driver they are looking down the road for oncoming traffic. Out of sight out of mind. If there\’s a clearing the driver\’s gonna gun it with me not having cleared the front bumper yet.

    All it takes is one driver distracted by their cell phone to not recall that bike that just crossed in front of them.

    I get the willies everyday at that spot, but it doesn\’t have anything to do with Kirk (he\’s still not entertaining to me). It has to do with vacant faced drivers.

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  • Damon June 8, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    I drive this intersection a lot, and yes, Kirk is a distraction. I\’ve frequently have had to pull forward into the line of bikes to see if I can proceed. He seriously needs to be relocated.

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  • SkidMark June 8, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    He could just go back to his old spot, across from Powell\’s.

    The danger would seem to be car vs. car, not car vs. bike. Bikes are on the sidewalk at that point.

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  • Lance P June 8, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    Comment 96…

    It is illegal for cyclist to ride on the sidewalk downtown, and therefore, anywhere near Powells 🙂

    I bike that intersection everyday. Going north, I bike in the center lane because the left lane turns and the right lane is the streetcar.

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  • Brian C June 9, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I bike by and run by this guy mostly every day. He\’s great, he makes you smile as you go by. He out there rain or shine as well. I\’m all for letting him stay, but he does raise some safety concerns. But I could think of ton of places way less safe than where he sits. I just ride past looking at the stopped drivers faces and at their front wheel. When it moves … I stop. Period. Just be very observant on your commute and you\’ll be safe. Never assume that cars see you. And Kirk keep portland weird!

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  • Hillsons June 9, 2008 at 11:19 am

    The one day someone got hit Kirk wasn\’t there?

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  • Marc Rose June 9, 2008 at 11:54 am

    I didn\’t read all the other posts, but here\’s my *perhaps similar to many* two cents:

    It\’s great to see him around Portland with his white suit etc., but that\’s already a really dangerous place for cyclists since drivers have to turn their heads so far back to look for us. He should play somewhere else.

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  • a.O June 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    \”Just be very observant on your commute and you\’ll be safe.\”

    This is the big myth of safety. Sometimes you do all you can, and you still get hit by someone else who isn\’t being very observant. It\’s unfortunate, but true – even though people want to believe that those who suffer terrible injury must have done something to put themselves in a bad spot.

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  • Marc Rose June 9, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    1) Garin, calm down. Many of us bike past Kirk a lot and feel it makes that junction even more unsafe.
    2) *quietly* After reading Kirk\’s unique post I feel like saying, hey, yeah, let him stay there until the BLM fills in the Columbia River as a garbage dump… dammit I\’ll get off my carbon fiber and crawl past him in spandex if I have to.

    Wait, that sounded kinky.

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  • Keith Walker June 9, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I won\’t speculate on whether Kirk blocks drivers views of the bicycles, but when I am riding home across the intersection, Kirk sure as hell blocks my view of the drivers in the car at the stop sign.
    For me, Kirk essentially prevents eye contact with most of those drivers at that spot.

    Kirk is also a friendly distraction at the intersection – I would rather that the bicycles be the main distraction for cars at the intersection – I don\’t wish to be competition to be noticed there.

    I think it is reasonable that Kirk move 10-20 feet down the ramp. Kirk is only there during rush hour, afaik; so if he wants to hand out his business card or accept a donation, cars are still queuing up on the ramp – every car that passes him has to go up that ramp no matter where he sits, is this not true?

    This is as close to a win-win situation as you can get – move down 10 feet and you will have the gratitude of many bicyclists!

    Yes, cars coming down Madison won\’t see him, but to get his card or give him money, they would have to violate the bike lane to do that.

    In addition, I would also like to see some traffic calming for that stop sign – a nice speed bump near the stop sign\’s white line. Too many cars do a \’rolling stop\’, perhaps PDOT can help us out there?


    btw, I have seen Kirk on the local access TV show once, its worth a watch, I wish I knew when it was on…

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  • SkidMark June 9, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    Um… Lance, I obviously meant that bikes are on the sidewalk at the Hawthorne Bridge entrance, not at Powell\’s. And you might want to ask a bike messenger where the \”no bikes on the sidewalk\” rule is actually in effect downtown, because it isn\’t ALL of downtown.

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  • brian b June 9, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Get Kirk on a bike and let him blow mobile all over town!

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