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Driving for Change: Why a passionate cabbie is fighting to make Clearwater Beach safer

The Clearwater Beach traffic whisperer
Moses Abu Othman, owner, The Party Cab the Original.
Posted at 8:51 AM, Jan 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-14 21:23:11-05

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Moses Abu Othman, owner of The Party Cab the Original, has logged so many miles cruising up and down Clearwater Beach, you could fly round trip to the moon, not once, but twice.  

For nearly two decades, Othman estimates he's driven 1.2 million miles in his Party Cab. One way to the moon, if you are curious, is 238,900 miles.

"It's Clearwater Beach, that's why I love it, man," Othman told ABC Action News reporter Michael Paluska.

Paluska tagged along with Othman for an afternoon drive through the island paradise. An interesting look into the world of an eccentric and affable cabbie. A disco ball hangs in front of the rearview mirror — the Florida sun showering his van's ceiling and seats with sparkles of dancing light.

"People love the disco ball, man," Othman said.  

As we drove through the parking lot near Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, a lady on the sidewalk saw it and screamed to a friend, "he's got a disco ball! Hey, look! How cool."

"You got to see it at night. I mean, come on, have a good day, Happy New Year," Othman responded. 

"It makes people smile in traffic jams accidents. That's why I hung this disco ball," Othman told Paluska as he turned south onto Mandalay Avenue. "A lot of times I joke around with people it's like, 'hey be gentle with my ball alright,' you know."

Othman, a former professional bicyclist, is a single father. He traded life on the road with his bike for a cab. Othman is working hard to raise his teenage son and daughter.

During the pandemic, he almost lost it all. Luckily, Othman said he made some tough financial decisions and could ride out lockdowns and keep his business going. Othman has a smile and an infectious personality, but he is serious about traffic. And, over the years, he has asked the City of Clearwater to consider his suggestions to make the beach safer.

"The crosswalks are so narrow. With the volume of people, you need to have 30 to 40 feet wide crosswalks to have people cross all at once within five to ten seconds and done," Othman said. "Why cannot be this whole thing be a crosswalk?"

Othman pointed out blind spots, narrow crosswalks, crosswalks he says aren't placed in the right area, roads that should be converted for one-way traffic only, and where railings should be installed to keep pedestrians from jaywalking.

"They built a big intersection here that it's useless. So, Coronado should be one way going north. This one should be one way going south. That would eliminate that intersection," Othman said.

While Othman showed us a narrow crosswalk at the light across from the Pier 60 parking lot, a husband and wife overheard our conversation.

"I was almost hit here yesterday," Tom George said. "I had the walk sign the guy comes (makes a noise to simulate the driver slamming on his breaks), and he yelled at me. I go 'look it said walk' he was like 'oh.'"

"It is crazy you have to be on your toes," Debbie George said.

"Now, you're passionate about all this stuff. Is this because you're worried about the pedestrians and traffic?" Paluska asked.

"I'm worried about everything. I'm worried about people trying to make a living, man. There are people who could not make it to their jobs (because of traffic), businesses shut down, people got hurt, accidents; I've seen death; literally, I've seen death with my own eyes."

As the high rising continues to tower into the salty Florida air, Othman says he feels more motivated than ever to get more done.

"Live your life with the things you can control, and that's why I am the way I am," Othman said. "I think I am going to become an activist, to get things done all the way."