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Man hit while bicycling near Western Oregon University is last Oregon road fatality of 2015

Posted by on January 4th, 2016 at 10:40 am

Hoffman Road near the location where John Shapley died on December 30th.
(Photo: Polk County Sheriff’s Office)

52-year-old John Shapley was biking on a road just north of Western Oregon University on December 30th when he was struck from behind by 41-year-old Daniel Major, who was driving a Mazda sedan. The impact killed Shapley. He was the 441st person to die while using Oregon roads in 2015 — an increase of 25 percent over last year and a 41 percent jump from 2013.

Shapley was killed while biking westbound on the 9000 block of Hoffman Road on the outskirts of the city of Monmouth. The roadway in that section of Hoffman is one lane in each direction with little-to-no paved shoulder. The crash happened at around 6:40 pm.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Shapley was a resident of nearby Independence, Oregon. In a post about the crash on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Shapley’s 14-year-old daughter has reported in the comments that Major was “drunk” and that her dad had a functioning rear light. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Shapley was killed just around the corner (less than a mile) from where former Western Oregon University professor Hank Bersani was killed while cycling in 2012. Hoffman Road, where Shapley was riding, was featured as part of the route of the 2015 Cycle Oregon Weekend ride.

“Oregon envisions no deaths or life-changing injuries on Oregon’s transportation system by 2035.”
— From vision statement in ODOT’s Traffic Safety Action Plan.

Four people have died while cycling on Oregon roads this year: Shapley, Martin Greenough and Mark Angeles of Portland, and Tara Manitsas.

According to the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Traffic Safety Division Manager Troy Costales, this year’s four fatal bike crashes are down from seven fatalities last year*. But that’s the only stat to see a decrease.

Costales shared a breakdown of 2015 numbers and a comparison with 2014.

    — A total of 441 people died while using Oregon roads in 2015, a 25 percent increase over 2014’s 354 fatalities.

    — 76 people died while walking on Oregon roads in 2015, a 38 percent increase over 2014’s 55 fatalities.

    — 57 people died while riding a motorcycle on Oregon roads in 2015, a 24 percent increase over 2014’s 46 fatalities.

If ODOT achieves their current vision, we’re 20 years away from no traffic deaths. A committee working on an update to their Traffic Safety Action Plan has adopted the following statement: “Oregon envisions no deaths or life-changing injuries on Oregon’s transportation system by 2035.”

Speaking of which, we’ve got a great opportunity to get involved with that update. Tomorrow in Portland ODOT kicks off their first of five regional “listening sessions” on their Safety Action Plan. It will be held at their Portland headquarters (123 NW Flanders) from 10:00 am to 12 noon. Learn more here.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

*UPDATE: There have been more than four fatalities involving bicycle riders in 2015. As a commenter points out below, there was also Austin Crenshaw (no collision, lost control of his bike), Kimberly Wyatt, and Grant Garner. We’re working to get a full accounting of the stats and will update accordingly.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Spiffy January 4, 2016 at 11:01 am

    I don’t remember Tara Manitsas… but just read the article and her husband died of his injuries as well about 10 days later… so that’s actually 5 cyclist deaths…


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    • Alan 1.0 January 4, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      Also, in addition to David Manitsas and those mentioned in the article, others killed on bicycles on Oregon roads in 2015 include:

      Austin Crenshaw
      Grant Garner
      Kimberly Wyatt

      Maybe others – that’s a pretty quick search. Seems like public records accounting for all road user fatalities and serious injuries, with data selectable for factors including bicycle, is an essential piece of any Vision Zero implementation, and that it needs to be running now, at the start of VZ, to see that progress is (or is not) happening as other measures are taken.

      Condolences to all their friends and families.

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  • Marshall Guthrue January 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Please change the title to Western Oregon University.

    Also, tomorrow is the Monmouth City Council meeting. I am a city councilor. ODOT will be spending next summer doing construction on HWY 99 through the middle of Monmouth. I have been told that bike lanes/sharrows are not part of the plan, despite the road being more than wide enough.

    City council meeting is Tuesday, 1/5, in volunteer hall on Warren St. If anyone has a ghost bike that would like to bring by, I will have it placed behind me and clearly visible on camera. There will also be opportunity for public comment.

    Please contact me at government@marshallguthrie.com with any questions.

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  • Joe January 4, 2016 at 11:43 am


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  • Hazel January 4, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    It’s a bummer that every single listening session is during the day when many people will be working. Is this done on purpose by ODOT?

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) January 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm

      My hunch is that ODOT doesn’t do this scheduling to make it harder for people to show up… It’s probably more about cutting costs and making the sessions easier on staff. Evening sessions would mean extra work hours.

      And keep in mind that this traffic safety action plan isn’t something ODOT is volunteering to do. It’s a mandated thing by the federal gov’t. If ODOT wants $$ for safety stuff, they have to do this plan every four years.

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  • Matti January 4, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Scheduling a ‘listening session’ for 10am on a workday isn’t very useful, unless you want to listen to your engineering colleagues from down the hall.

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  • Pete January 4, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    My sincerest condolences to Mr. Shapley’s family – what a terrible way to start a new year. 🙁

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  • wsbob January 4, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    It’s frustrating to see roads with wide shoulders, graveled rather than paved. The reason they’re not paved is obvious: money.

    Guessing roughly by looking at the picture of Hoffman Rd at the top of this story, both graveled shoulders of the road would add about another ten or twelve feet of road width to be paved. Plus, cost of work to sufficiently stabilize the roadbed to support pavement. Tiling for the ditch, rather than a simple open drain, may also be required.

    And then…even were all that work to be done, a simple painted line designated bike lane so provided, would not be able to prevent DUI motor vehicle users from veering into the bike lane and colliding with people on bikes or on foot.

    It still would be very worthwhile to look into the expense involved in providing nice wide paved bike lanes onto wide gravel shoulders of roads that have them.

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    • Dead Salmon January 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm

      Roads with no shoulders are definitely not a good place to be biking at night unless the cyclist is lit up like a Christmas tree. But drunks may still get you. That section of road looks like it would have at least a 45 mph speed limit, maybe higher.

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      • 9watts January 4, 2016 at 4:06 pm

        “Roads with no shoulders are definitely not a good place to be biking at night unless the cyclist is lit up like a Christmas tree.”


        Ever heard of ‘passing too close,’ ‘hit-from-behind,’ ‘using your headlights’? We need to be careful with the kinds of admonitions we toss out, lest they become clubs with which to beat vulnerable road users.

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        • Dead Salmon January 4, 2016 at 6:27 pm

          You are the first line of defense in cycling safety. Don’t leave your well-being totally up to others. Be proactive.

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          • 9watts January 5, 2016 at 8:51 am

            There is a (subtle?) distinction here that I’ve tried to communicate in our previous iterations of this particular conversation: to me there is a world of difference between
            (a) Roads with no shoulders are definitely not a good place to be biking at night unless the cyclist is lit up like a Christmas tree., which puts the onus on the person on a bike, completely naturalizes inattention and speed on the part of the car-bound, and
            (b) If a car hits you from behind, it’ll almost never be your fault, even if you were stopped. One basic driving rule is that you’re supposed to leave enough room in front of your car to stop when the car in front of you stops suddenly. If the driver behind you couldn’t stop, he or she probably wasn’t driving safely.


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      • Spiffy January 6, 2016 at 9:12 am

        the only time I’ve been hit I was literally lit up like a christmas tree and riding on the shoulder…

        the driver was dumbfounded (and apologetic) as to how they did not see me…

        drivers need to pay more attention…

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  • Marshall Guthrie January 4, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    It still would be very worthwhile to look into the expense involved in providing nice wide paved bike lanes onto wide gravel shoulders of roads that have them.Recommended 0

    I regularly ride this road. It’s the easiest way to get from Monmouth to North Independence. I agree that a little extra space on the shoulders won’t stop every driver, but my perspective is that drivers here rarely leave their lane, to the left or right. I think a big part of this is that the vast minority of auto drivers have ever cycled those same street. I’ve been passed on, the regular, very closely despite not having any vehicle in the adjacent lane that a driver could pass into. They don’t feel anything, safe in their autos, when passing a bike at 40 mph and less than 24 inches, where the cyclist has a near-death experience. It’s simply a lack of understanding. This is why I often ride well in the lane when there is no/insufficient space on the shoulder for the safe passage of a cyclist or pedestrian. This forces the auto driver to slow or pass using the open lane rather than brushing me at full speed.

    Knowing this road, this accident was a combination of driver neglect/lawlessness and poor infrastructure including pavement, marking, and lighting. It’s a damn travesty and I’m sorry sorry for John’s family and friends. I hope that our government, federal and state, will do something about it.

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    • Tom Hardy January 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

      Sharrows would be a minimal expense and a major improvement. on a road like this. Night time riding in rural Oregon on dark nights or rain, like walking, provide imbibing or stoned motorists moving targets.

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      • Marshall Guthrie January 4, 2016 at 3:45 pm

        We’ve been requesting sharrows for 2 years and been told it is too expensive. I’ll be doing a public request/shaming tomorrow night.

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        • B. Carfree January 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm

          OMG, a bit of thermoplastic and some “bicycles may use full lane” signs is considered too expensive by ODOT? With those priorities, it’s going to truly be a long row to hoe achieving any sort of Vision Zero.

          (Budgets being priorities, I’m mindful of the $200 Million CRC boondoggle, as well as the several hundred million spent building new bridges over the Willamette in Eugene on I-5 to avoid lowering the weight limit to the national standard of 80,000 pounds.)

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    • Dead Salmon January 4, 2016 at 6:24 pm

      Good luck with that plan to ride out in the motor vehicle lane. In my old age, I mostly ride my mountain bike because I don’t have to bend over so far forward which is hard on the old back. Thus, when I’m on a road similar to the one pictured above, and I hear a vehicle approaching from behind, and particularly if there is limited sight distance ahead due to a hill making it dangerous for the car to move over the center line, I get out of the lane and I ride in the gravel. AND even when there is no car approaching I ride very close to or on the white line. My approach is to not depend on the driver to miss me – my approach is to get out of the way to the greatest extent possible. Doesn’t guarantee my safety, but it makes the odds a tad better. For this particular stretch when riding at night, a cyclist should have several functioning rear lights plus some reflective material.

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  • soren January 4, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    If you do not have time to attend the ODOT Open House please comment on their woefully inadequate Ped/Bike Plan.


    My take:

    The draft plan does not adequately develop infrastructure guidelines/recommendations, does not adequately address funding, and does not develop a comprehensive vision zero plan. In particular, the plan should specifically outline safety and multi-modal level of service requirements based on road design and road speed.

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  • 9watts January 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    The photo of the car with the crushed bike demands, I think, a bit more explanation. The bike’s front wheel is under the car’s front left wheel – not a particularly common scenario, or?

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    • Dead Salmon January 4, 2016 at 8:24 pm

      I noticed that too. Don’t know why/how it happened.

      According to trimet you should be seen:


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    • Opus the Poet January 4, 2016 at 8:40 pm

      If that’s the wreck I’m thinking about, the vehicle pictured was the second one to hit the cyclist after he was knocked into the oncoming lane by the first driver. Notice the crushed rear wheel in the picture also.

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      • Dead Salmon January 5, 2016 at 3:15 am

        But the article says he was hit from behind by a Mazda sedan. That car in the inset photo looks like a Mazda sedan, but not positive about that.

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  • so... January 4, 2016 at 9:43 pm


    Yet 34 people were killed last year and no one on this site cares.

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    • Opus the Poet January 5, 2016 at 11:04 am

      We are working on one particular set of fatalities here. That doesn’t mean nobody cares about other kinds of fatalities (I’m involved with #BLM and HRC) it’s just that the focus here is preventing a certain kind of fatality. You can’t do everything, but that doesn’t mean you should not do anything.

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  • Linda January 5, 2016 at 11:14 am

    “an increase of 25 percent over last year and a 41 percent jump from 2013”
    This is not Vision Zero. This is Vision Gain, and should be unacceptable.

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    • Dead Salmon January 5, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      If you’re talking about the homicide stats, I don’t think the yearly percentages are significant. The numbers are so low that even a few more makes a big percentage difference.

      34 deaths is not good by any measure, but for a big city like Portland, it’s not many. How many did Chicago have?

      That article on the homicides was long. I did not bother to read it all. I did notice that one was a suicide by cop, so not really a homicide. I don’t pay much attention to Miriam’s articles – she is exceptionally biased and leaves out important facts on a regular basis.

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      • Dead Salmon January 5, 2016 at 1:22 pm

        I see you were referring to the road deaths stats. Similar argument there as well. Those types of numbers go up/down each year so it’s nothing to get alarmed by. The thing to determine is “why” they change. Increasing population? More icy roads than normal? Pot legalization? What’s the reason?

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        • Marshall Guthrie January 6, 2016 at 9:55 am

          I agree with your assessment, that the most valuable thing we can do is to try to determine causation in changes, but as to whether or not a certain number of deaths is “significant”, that’s clearly a matter of perceptive. What if the number of cyclists killed on the road dropped to only one, but that one death was you? Would it be significant then?

          Any death is significant to someone. A change in data can be insignificant, a death can’t be.

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  • Marshall Guthrie January 6, 2016 at 9:01 am

    Less than a week ago, on December 30, a member of our community, John Shapley, was killed on Hoffman Road while cycling after being struck from behind by the driver of an automobile. I would ask everyone to keep John Shapley, and the family and friends who mourn his death, in their thoughts.
    Last night, I spoke as a cyclist, citizen, and Monmouth City Councilor about what we can do to make our streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Below is a video of my statement, and the ensuing conversation. I will uphold the three principles outlined, and not back down when issues of safety are de-prioritized.

    Video: https://youtu.be/4tAtqdLWDuA?t=34m30s

    Written Statement: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gW7OSJuJU_P5vYewE0ZvlpQua9PFDDuihvXavhdWX6I/edit?usp=sharing

    I’ve also been in contact with a reader from Corvallis who coordinates a local Ride of Silence. We will be stationing a ghost bike at various spots in town and the next council meeting, to draw attention to the death of John Shapley and others, rally for better cycling infrastructure, and promote the Ride of Silence on May 18th.

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    • Dead Salmon January 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      That’s great to have better infrastructure as it becomes affordable, but the first emphasis in cyclist safety must always be visibility provided by the cyclist in the form of lights and reflective clothing. Be proactive. Do not put your safety solely in the hands of drivers or government infrastructure.

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      • 9watts January 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm

        “the first emphasis in cyclist safety must always be visibility provided by the cyclist in the form of lights and reflective clothing.”

        I couldn’t disagree with you more.
        Once we take that step the die is cast, the responsibility on the part of the driver to look at the road ahead is shed. Forget it.

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  • rain waters January 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    Although land is generally flat here in the Willamete valley, shoulders have deep ditches to accomodate heavy runoff. Sometimes challenging with no bike lane and steadily increasing HEAVY truck traffic moving tons of hay for export. Corvallis is an oasis of sane cycling surrounded by a proportional measure of ‘murican dream insanity. Take care out there.

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  • Marshall Guthrie January 12, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    The Ghost bike is up in front of City Hall: https://goo.gl/photos/QN9h7o1jwMesFdhf8

    For at least the next 7 days, the bike will be moved to high-visibility locations and locations of significance for cyclists. This will culminate with its final appearance at the January 19 council meeting at 7pm in Volunteer Hall behind City Hall in Monmouth.

    On February 2, council is scheduled to hear a presentation from ODOT detailing the work to be done in Summer 2017 on Hwy 99. I’m hoping that we might be able to have the bike at that meeting as well.

    Again, a huge thank you to Ray in Corvallis. I won’t clog the comments with updates. For daily pictures, and to engage, go to facebook.com/marshalljguthrie, or communicate directly with the cities of Monmouth and Independence, Polk County, and ODOT.

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