Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 15th, 2015 at 12:17 pm
Martin Greenough is the name of the man who was killed while riding his bike on NE Lombard on Saturday night. He was 38 years old.
Here are some updates on the case as we continue to follow the story and report on its impacts…
The man driving the car that struck Greenough, 26-year-old Kenneth Smith Jr., was in court yesterday to face multiple charges in the incident including Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Marijuana). KATU-TV was at the Justice Center and provided some important new details about Smith’s family and the crash itself.
According to KATU, Smith’s wife spoke on his behalf at the hearing, saying that he’s “An awesome person and he’s a great father to all three of these kids.” She pleaded for leniency and said the crash was an accident and that Smith had no idea what he’d done.
Smith has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on $250,000 bail.
KATU has also reported that Smith’s father is blaming the bike lane design as being “partly responsible for the crash.”
This is the first blame on the road design we’ve seen from either party of the crash. So far, no one from Greenough’s family has come forward. (The Portland Police say they live out of state and we can’t find any information about him online.) Interestingly, this comes out the same day The Oregonian is reporting that the City of Portland will offer a surviving victim of a 2012 fatal collision a settlement of $325,000. The victim in that case was suing Portland for negligent road design.
On that note, the KATU story says that “ODOT wasn’t aware of the interrupted bike lane until it got a complaint about it through the “orcycle” app.” Just to clarify, that’s not true. As we reported the day before Greenough was killed, an ODOT staffer replied to a citizen complaint about the bike lane gap at 42nd Avenue by saying, “Thank you for bringing this bike lane gap to our attention. This section of Lombard was not previously coded as a gap in our bicycle facility inventory.”
Not having the gap coded in a bike facility inventory is very different than not being aware the gap exists. ODOT owns and manages the road. They have signs pointing out that the gaps exist. They made the decision to drop the bike lanes.
Speaking of how dangerous that stretch of Lombard is, noted local activist and volunteer with BikeLoudPDX Terry Dublinski-Milton says ODOT should declare a “safety emergency” in order to get funding in place to build a path around the existing gap by this summer.
Livable Streets Action, a BikeLoudPDX affiliate group, says they will host a candlelight vigil for all victims of traffic violence this Thursday (12/17) from 4:30 – 5:30 pm in front of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters in downtown Portland (123 NW Flanders St). They’re encouraging people to wear black clothing and bring extra shoes that will be placed in the road to represent victims. Saying that ODOT has, “consistently resisted safety improvements,” the group wants the state legislature to transfer Lombard (and other state highways) to the City of Portland and prioritize funding for immediate safety upgrades.
So far this year 406 people have died while using Oregon roads, that’s up about 24 percent over last year.
Anger and frustration at ODOT has been building for years among people who ride bikes in our region (with both legislators and activists calling for its director Matt Garrett to be fired). There’s a feeling in the communty (a very reasonable one, given their actions (or lack thereof) and the crash statistics on their roads) that the agency simply doesn’t care about the people who use their roads.
What we sometimes forget when venting at a huge public agency is that it’s made up of individual people — most of whom are trying to do their best and who might be just as frustrated about the pace of change as we are.
Last night Jessica Horning posted this to her personal Twitter account:
By day, Horning is the ODOT Region 1 Active Transportation Liaison.
Stay tuned. Up next we’ll have a statement from ODOT about Saturday’s crash.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – email@example.com