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:
I'm sorry, Martin. https://t.co/KPmyfhwWK2
— Jessica Horning (@jessica_horning) December 15, 2015
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
Looks to me like an ODOT official is admitting fault in this case.
Or maybe she’s a human being who feels sorry about the loss of a fellow human’s life. Sheesh.
They put up a sign instructing bicycles to take the lane. (as Jonathan states in the story).
“the KATU story says that “ODOT wasn’t aware of the interrupted bike lane…”
“ODOT owns and manages the road. They have signs pointing out that the gaps exist. “
Given the percentage of those 406 fatalities that were in motor vehicles, it seems safe to assume that ODOT simply doesn’t care about anyone at all. It’s astonishing that Matt Garrett still has a job after the number of calls for his resignation.
I’m not entirely certain it’s accurate to say that 100% of all traffic fatalities in 2015 in Oregon can be blamed on roadway design. I don’t see any proof in this article, just directed frustration. That’s not to say ODOT can’t do better, but there’s another important point, and that’s that ODOT employees are humans trying to do their best under the guidelines and procedures they are bound to follow.
Trust me, I share everyone’s frustration with the status quo:
I’ve been thinking a lot about this today (when I should really be working). We see these lawsuits, like the one linked to above, and the recent settlement with a California city. Typically in these cases, frustrated and grieving survivors hire PIs and try their hardest to prove that their loved one was a victim of operator negligence, poor infrastructure, etc. The outcome is almost always financial, but may lay the groundwork for change and improvement, and we see survivors in action who become and remain dedicated to change, including those who founded MADD, and I’d be remiss without a shout-out to Kristi here. Anyway, what I’m wondering is, how useful can the evidence of pre-existing knowledge be? The fact that signs warning of the danger are placed there becoming a double-edged sword to the people who placed them there? Can that be used to wedge ODOT into finding the funding and prioritization, or might that make administrators think twice about putting signs up in other dangerous places? I have email conversations (and recordings of public hearings), including video of ‘dangerous’ driver behavior – drivers simply following painted lines, describing an inconsistency of roadway markings at four corners of one of the more dangerous intersections in my county. Might it all someday be used as evidence against our county transit authority in a wrongful death lawsuit? How easy would it have been, then – in retrospect – to have kept one travel lane a consistent width while keeping a paint line continuous with some dashes in it?
One wonders what it will take. In the meantime I think of Martin Greenough’s survivors and Jeffrey Donnelly’s wife and three children, and continue to try my best to make sure that “I didn’t see them!” doesn’t happen to anyone else, and I know many of you do too.
Part of the blame belongs to 300 or so state legislators who have served in the Oregon House or Oregon Senate who have only increased the gas tax once since 1993. Add another thousand or so US Congressmen/women and US Senators who have failed to raise the gas tax even once since 1993.
Construction costs have risen 70 percent since 1993. There’s simply lots less money to do good projects that benefit people because of the failure to index the gas tax to inflation.
As much as I rant about ODOT, there are some good people trying do the right thing, but when the budget is so clearly inadequate, lots of stuff gets cut. Since 90+ percent of voters principally identify as motorists, it’s hardly a surprise when good stuff for non-motorists gets cut disproportionately.
Talk, paint, and speed limit signs are all cheap.
You get what you pay for.
I’m not sure what you’re getting at. My point is that ‘lack of funding’ as an excuse for not caring about people and safety doesn’t pass muster because transportation employees that truly cared about safety would find a way to make economical changes; make due with what they have instead of digging in their heels and refusing to take action.
Talk, paint and speed limit signs don’t change motorist behavior, enforcement does. Former Gov. Kitz. did attempt to improve funding for state troopers, but was shut down. If I’m not mistaken, we have fewer troopers on the roads today than we did in the ’70s when we had only a fraction the number of motorists on our roadways.
This isn’t meant to imply that ODOT takes safety seriously, just that there are lots of bad actors to blame for our currently lousy roadway environment.
A road diet affects motorist behavior dramatically.
I was riding northbound on Williams a few weeks back and had a pick-up truck driver swerve into the bike lane just in front of me to pass another motorist driving at the speed limit. The road diet didn’t affect his behavior much if at all.
Should probably rip out all road diets because of this observation.
We have two sets of statistics after a road diet here on Pruneridge in Santa Clara, CA. First is the significant reduction in speeding tickets and collisions (which our police can, and did, attest to in city council hearings), and second was the public outcry that city council came under by irate residents… so much so that they became gun-shy about approving bike lanes (with ~$400K of funding we had to spend or lose) on a street that was wide enough to easily accommodate them.
slowing down, driving sober, and paying attention are all free, no matter the road design.
They’re free, but there’s no way to make people do any of those things. We know for a fact that some won’t. Road design is something that can actually be controlled.
You know this? do you actually own and operate a motor vehicle?
$4 BILLION is the ODOT 2013-2015 budget. More than $1 BILLION is generated by gas taxes. It’s hard to believe that this amount of money is not enough.
Frankly, until the federal government gets out of the game of funding state and local transportation projects I don’t see a majority of ordinary people stepping up to argue that the gas tax should be increased or that higher taxes should be levied to support greater transportation spending.
Huge sums of government revenue is simply wasted now in the transactional systems needed to collect the dollars, prepare, plan, and submit requests for funding, reviewing and approving requests, disbursement of dollars, project planning, etc before a shovel hits the ground. People are not blind to this current situation.
What part of driving under the influence makes you an “awesome person” and a “great father”? Was it an “accident” that Smith got high and then got behind the wheel?
All of this talk about infrastructure and legal pot is just obfuscating the fact that a sh-tty person did a shi-tty thing. Let’s not lose sight of that.
The entire point of Vizion Zero is that people do lousy things, but we shouldn’t die because of them. The infrastructure created the conditions that lead to this death.
We can’t do much about people who get high and drive cars. We can count on that happening for as long as both cars and drugs exist.
We can build self-policing infrastructure that takes vulnerable road users out of harm’s way, and makes it likely they will survive even when motorists do bad things. It just takes the right leadership.
I totally agree with what you wrote, but I do have some discomfort with your first paragraph; it sounds very similar to old school engineering thinking suggesting clearance of all obstacles that a driver might strike, in the name of safety.
There’s a common principle, I guess. The major difference is that old-school engineering was focused first on moving cars quickly, and then on minimizing the death toll. Instead we should focus on keeping everyone alive and intact as the first goal, and then maximize mobility of modes (with proper priority for peds over bikes over transit over HOVs over SOVs.) second.
I’d like us to follow the Dutch model of self-policing infrastructure.
“Keeping everyone alive and intact” is exactly what an old school engineer might say as he widens the street to accommodate a swerving driver.
I know exactly what you are trying to say, and I have the same problem saying it; it is hard to articulate the distinction between the different ways of designing infrastructure to improve safety. The goals may be similar, but the outcomes are very different.
It seems that the street design should convey an inherent message that drivers need to pay attention, rather than a message that they can drive blindly with impunity. The problem comes when a street design sends the wrong mixed message: big, wide street says, “drive fast with minimal attention”, all the while creating a huge danger for anyone not in a car, or for drivers on curves where too much speed is dangerous for everyone. On the other hand, a narrow street with no passing distance appears “dangerous”, but invites drivers to slow down and exercise caution, which actually makes it safer.
Actually, no, the infrastructure didn’t create the conditions or cause this accident.
A permissible enviroment where illegal drug use is encouraged by the state and local government helped cause this.
An individual who believed it was appropriate to use illegal drugs and then drive helped cause this.
How many accidents have happened in this area involving cars and bike? What is the incidence rate here? If it’s low, then how can you blame the infrastructure situation or, as someone above, legislators in Salem or 3000 miles away in DC?
You don’t know what caused this crash. I don’t what know caused this crash. The Police don’t know what caused this crash. The only thing all of us can do is speculate because one person is dead and the other person is not a credible source of information. I think a lot of factors likely contributed to this crash. As for the infrastructure, the fact remains that this happened at or near a location that has a clear and present inadequacy from a bicycling safety standpoint. Because of that, I feel it’s extremely relevant to consider how the design of the road contributes to conditions that could have played a role in this collision. Thanks for your comments.
If this guy was high on weed, then no matter how safe you design the road, the crash (it’s not accident) would have happened. The real issue here is that so many folks think marijuana is some harmless drug. It inhibits judgement and somehow the voters have blessed this as acceptable.
Yeah, the road could be better but if this guy was high, let’s not lose focus on the real issue here.
That’s just not true. If there had been a separated bike path, the accident would not have happened. Instead, the cyclist was hit where the bike lane dropped, and bikes were forced into a shared lane with vehicles travelling at 45MPH (assuming they weren’t speeding).
You are right about some people’s attitudes towards weed, but it’s just wrong to say this would have happened with better infrastructure. It probably would not have.
It’s entirely possible that an otherwise good person did a stupid and reckless thing with horrible consequences. People are multi-dimensional.
Except, after he did that stupid thing, he fled the scene and left Martin to die in the road……….
You seem to be assuming a rational decision could be made by a person who was either oblivious or panicked, and very likely stoned. We don’t even know if he was aware he had struck the cyclist.
I want to be very clear that I am not defending the driver; I’m just unwilling to condemn every aspect of his life based on this incident, especially because I assume he did not intend to injure or kill.
I’m assuming that an “awesome person” would have stopped and helped. Fleeing the scene of a crash is an unbelievably selfish crime. Also, please spare me the usual excuses: there is zero chance he impacted Martin hard enough to kill him ,without being aware of it.
You’re right. He was a lousy father.
We don’t even know if he was aware he had struck the cyclist.
“According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, Kenneth Lee Smith Jr.’s stepson was asleep in his car’s passenger seat when something hit the windshield loud enough to wake the 16-year-old.
“The affidavit also says a witness in a car driving the opposite direction on Lombard saw a metal object bounce off the hood of Smith’s car, watched the car slow to about 15 mph, and then saw the car continue down Lombard.
“That same witness also found the bicyclist lying in the road after the crash.”
(But I agree with your overall point about people being multi-dimensional, HK.)
So, awesome dad-of-the-year was driving around with his stepson in the car…
Mrs. Smith said her husband is an “awesome person.” I haven’t seen anyone here say that.
Seriously zero pity for someone who leaves someone to die alone in the street. What if immediate help might have saved him vs slightly delayed help. This kind of depraved indifference says a lot about a person.
We don’t need to play “what if…” in this case. The witness stopped, found Martin and called 911. It doesn’t make Smith’s actions any better.
First of all, that does nothing to absolve Smith of the insane lack of responsibility and respect for human life he showed by fleeing.
And second– hypothetically the witness might not have had a cellphone, and could have had to drive home/to a bar/store, etc. to call 911. Not saying that’s even the case, but it just goes to show that anything is possible.
Thanks Hello Kitty.
for several years now I’ve started judging people on how they drive… I don’t think you can be a great person and a horrible driver at the same time…
I don’t care if the road sucks and you’ve had a few, you simply need to stop when you hit somebody and own up to what you’ve done…
how do you hit somebody hard enough to kill them and then claim you didn’t know that you hit something? that’s not what a good person does, no matter the circumstances…
Hear hear. Google “melanie souza killed stan wicka”.
I want to believe that so badly watching all the terrible drivers that are out there and the things I think.
But my mom is a terrible driver on any objective scale… and also one of the best people I’ve ever known. So maybe we can just say MOST people.
Or maybe we can acknowledge that driving skill is not a good metric of character.
I think there are a lot of really great people out there who become self-absorbed selfish jerks when they drive. My guess is that they have just never considered transportation as a collaborative thing, and instead put their own needs (getting to where they need to go) way above everything else (common courtesy, and the safety of others).
When I drive, I find it’s easy to get unconsciously sucked into that behavior — it’s like a big raceway out there, and everyone is trying to get ‘there’ faster. ‘What will we do when we get there?? I don’t know, but we have to get there fast!!’ We wouldn’t accept this sort of behavior waiting in line at the bank (cutting people off, tailgating, changing lanes back & forth, not letting people merge, intimidation, etc) so why is it commonplace when we sit in our cars? I find I have to force myself to RELAX, accept the fact that travelling from one location to another actually takes time, and visualize the cars around me as PEOPLE instead of obstacles.
It is entirely possible, likely even, that Smith is an awesome person and a great father who just f^cked up and accidentally killed someone. No need to attack his character here, you don’t even know him.
You didn’t read the story, apparently. He got high, got in a 3000lb vehicle, hit a person with it, and drove away. That immediately disqualifies someone from Awesome status.
Actually, let’s please lose sight of that as soon as we can.
why? is it easier to blame a piece of asphalt?
Actually, yes. Not a ‘piece of asphalt’ but the defective design of the roadway in general.
The human being did exactly what we knew a human being would do. The infrastructure did exactly what we knew it would do. It was just a matter of when rather than if. This is ODOT”s fault.
no, its not. Just stop. ODOT wasn’t behind the wheel, a human being was. I’ve driven on plenty of crappy, unsafe roads. I’ve never killed someone who was sharing them because I drive sober and pay attention.
Are you suggesting that infrastructure design plays no role in road injuries and deaths?
they must work for ODOT
and you must like to have conversations with yourself apparently.
really? are you saying that a strip of white paint is going to keep you protected against negligent and distracted people driving 3 tons of steel behind you while on a bike?
Not a chance. Non-protected bike lanes are not platinum infrastructure. A separated cycletrack with a concrete barrier certainly would have improved things.
Apples and oranges. Driving distracted is one thing, but paint does inform drivers and bicyclists alike as to expected road positioning, speed, possible turns, etc. If you spend a considerable amount of time using poor infrastructure, and then get to see it after improvements are added, you will indeed notice a difference in behavior of that section’s user (car, bike, ped, etc.). This is why road diets are often accompanied by reductions in speeding tickets and collisions.
Careful driving can compensate for almost any design deficit, but perfect design cannot compensate for a driver ‘who does not care’.
How many drivers do you think truly “do not care”?
I actually think a significant %, maybe 30-40% do not care enough to pay attention and think of ‘worse case possibility’, like hitting someone. I think the number that manifest deliberate threatening behavior is less than 1/10 of 1%. I say this as a 68 year old person, started riding at age five, raced for 20+ years and has ridden over 400,000 miles on public roads.
Not caring and not being conscious/aware are two very different states of mind.
Well we found at least one who didn’t care enough to stop and try to help his victim.
I’m not sure why you insist on focusing on the thing that simply can’t be controlled, and discounting the importance of the thing that can.
because the “thing that can” only gives some of you folks a false sense of security. white paint isn’t going to stop a driver from crossing over it….ever. the only thing that can be controlled is the steering wheel. I’m unsure why some of you folks like blaming a bunch of people sitting at desks instead of the guy who actually killed the cyclist with his car.
It’s not either/or… it’s both.
Here is a link to the project file when this roadway was most likely last resurfaced (reconstructed) back in 1998. I have not been able to find any newer documents
The bike lanes may have been added after this work was completed.
The design of this facility has effected the safety of other roadway users too, like the PPB:
Sorry typo – I should have written “affected” not “effected”
Has it been confirmed that the cyclist and driver were travelling EB and not WB? From the early news video it looked like the “crash site” was on the west side of the overcrossing and on the north side of the shoulder. (This could be a difference of the point of impact vs. landing.)
Yes, confirmed eastbound.
Thanks for the crash ref. It seems like there was another fatal at that location in the past 5 years or so…seems like there were three cars involved.
Using the Google Earth tool (historical imagery) to look back at the history of striping in this highway segment one can see that:
– this area had bike lane stencils by 2000/2001 and potentially earlier (the civilian satellite image resolution was pretty poor back then – most cities paid for aerial photos by plane preGoogle), so the bike lanes may date from the 1998/99 pavement reconstruction project posted earlier; and
– by 07/2015 then an infill bike lane stencil is added closer to where the bike lane starts/ drops on the east side of the viaduct (perhaps there was a then recent assessment to infill bike lane stencils along Lombard for improved safety, etc.).
The bike lane facility (with its gap) along this portion of NE Lombard / North Portland Highway is likely one of the older ODoT bike lane arterial facilities in the region, so it is surprising that it was not on “ODoT’s books” as has been mentioned last week.
…and the warning signage (bike lane end ahead) looks to be as old as the original bike lanes (one can see the sign shadow as far back as 2002 then the resolution gets horrible).
Portland’s Vision Zero is not only about infrastructure. https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/66612.
As the mom of a young man killed in a hit and run, I didn’t blame infrastructure when someone veered into the bike lane. I blame the underage man who chose to illegally drink, who chose to drive drunk, who chose to leave two people injured/dead, who chose to ditch the damaged car while saying he didn’t know he hit anything, and who chose to lie and say he was car-jacked, that he didn’t do it. Even though I forgave him (which I now know he didn’t deserve), I always knew it was his fault.
I understand the infrastructure in this current situation is at issue and may have contributed to this tragedy. But only ODOT’s fault?
This driver has not been proven to be impaired. They say he was… If he was, he shouldn’t have been driving. If he wasn’t driving, regardless of infrastructure, he couldn’t have hit someone. Even if he were sober, he did hit a live person and then he kept on driving like what he’d hit was no more important than a possum. He didn’t call 9-1-1 for help. He didn’t stop to comfort a dying fellow human being. He didn’t stop and cooperate with police. He fled. What a role-model. Sorry, awesome person and great dad he is not, in my book.
And that’s part of what makes these hit and runs especially upsetting. These people who unintentionally (but preventably) kill or injure and then (on purpose) cruelly run away, are often our neighbors, our co-workers, sometimes our family. Sometimes these people who look and act just like everybody else do this to the people they profess to LOVE.
So I don’t get it when we say it’s all the government’s fault. Because some people have no morals? Because some are just plain uncaring and selfish? Because some people refuse to believe or act like the rules apply to them or that there’s a reason for the laws? Studies show that the majority of drivers have an attitude of “I don’t trust that driver doing [whatever], but I can do it.” Scary.
If I hit someone -God forbid- I can see myself possibly being hysterical, vomiting, passing out, but not leaving. Not helpful actions, but not cruel and uncaring. Hit and run just adds an extra unbelievably horrifying dimension to an already devastating tragedy.
Infrastructure doesn’t cause hit and run. People need to be taught morals. ODOT, PBOT, whoever, need to fix their dangerous roads. Police need to enforce existing laws. Courts need to uphold the laws and be consistent. Legislators need to be logical in making laws. DMV needs continuing education.
I’m so sick and tired of more death and destruction every day.
Very well said, Kristi. I’m sorry about your son.
I offer you my condolences on the loss of your son, no mother should have to bury her children.
I don’t believe that there is any safe level of alcohol (or other intoxicants) which allows you to continue to drive. In some countries the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.02% or lower, this accommodates the alcohol that forms in the gut from the fermentation of sugars during digestion, but does not accommodate the consumption of alcoholic beverages and then driving.
While I think we can redesign our roads to slow traffic down and make them safer for all road users, we also need to re-evaluate our attitude to, and definition of, impaired driving. We need to ingrain into people that it is unacceptable to consume alcohol or other drugs and operate a vehicle (car, motorcycle, bus, bicycle etc.) on a public street. It is dangerous for the vehicle operator and every other road user for someone to be impaired while operating.
Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the driver in this case speak louder to me than the words of his loving wife.
Excellent comment. My condolences to you.
The “run” part of this hit and run is the fault only of the driver. I have no idea why he ran. Maybe he was terrified – I would be – but I would hope that I’d stop, help, and call 911 as required by law.
The “hit” part of this incident is “probably” mostly or completely on the driver, but that has not been established. I assume the police will attempt to establish the cause. There could have been many contributing causes as to why he hit the cyclist such as: poor cycling infrastructure, impaired driver, poor headlights, oncoming headlights blinded him, distracted driver doing tasks in the vehicle other than driving, using phone, cyclist visibility not adequate due to low light batteries and/or dark clothing or light not turned on, cyclist too far out in the lane, cyclist swerved suddenly out into the lane, etc. The police have their work cut out but I am sure the driver will get some jail time.
I agree with Terry, “BikeLoudPDX Terry Dublinski-Milton says ODOT should declare a “safety emergency”. ODOT and/or the Governor really need to take action. Lower the speed limit tomorrow, don’t wait. Stop being complacent.
I’m interested in the “I’m sorry” tweet.
If Jessica is really sorry, this would seem to imply that she can or should take action to ensure this doesn’t happen again (otherwise the statement is really devoid of meaning). Let’s hold her accountable, not for the accident itself (i.e. looking at the past event), but for doing something to remedy it going forward (assuming her expression of sorrow is genuine).
I don’t know Jessica personally, and thus do not know the extent of what she could do, But I’m guessing that folks reading BikePortland do know her, and know what her responsibilities are.
Focusing on a single person is not the way forward on this (aside from the head of the agency setting policy, and that’s not Jessica). She has job in a beaurocracy, and their are constraints to what she can and cannot do.
“Where the area was and the bike lane, it was just a accident”. – blame the infrastructure, call it an accident and get away with murder. You do not accidentally run someone down while intoxicated and leave the scene. these were choices.
“He would never hurt nobody,” – what do you call killing someone and leaving them to die?
I have nothing against drivers (of which I am also one), recreational pot smokers, or people who make mistakes. I am also even in the minority of folks on BP who feel it is entirely possible for careful, conscientious driver to accidentally not see a cyclist.
What is entirely unforgiveable to me is (a) driving under the influence, and (b) hit and run. Those two things automatically disqualify you from being an “awesome person” or a good parent.
Sorry to keep harping on this, but Smith’s wife comment is infuriating. Accidents happen, but DUI and hit & run are NOT accidents, they are incredibly poor CHOICES.
Would you feel less infuriated if Smith’s wife had said “Until yesterday, he was an awesome person and a great father to all three of these kids.” ?
I just want people to take responsibility and acknowledge that what Smith did was NOT an accident. Because I feel like the unspoken corollary here is, “Smith was an awesome person and a great father,” *and he wouldn’t be in this mess if some fool cyclist hadn’t gotten in front of his car.*
I have no problem saying Smith was 100% responsible for his actions, and should bear the full weight of their consequences, while also acknowledging that the outcome was most likely unintentional, that poor infrastructure design may have made the incident more likely (or perhaps inevitable at some point), and feeling some measure of sympathy for Smith and his family.
I do not feel that expressing sympathy for the perpetrator or his family in any way lessen the severity of what happened, nor does it take anything from the Greenough family, for whom I also have a great deal of sympathy.
Pretending Smith was a cardboard villain will not help his victim or his family, and it will not help prevent future incidents. Those two goals are really the only worthy outcomes I see from this incident, and whatever actions we, as society, take should, to the extent possible, further one or both of those goals, while causing as little collateral damage as possible. That might include restitution, deterrence, and/or fixing the underpass.
It should not include being vindictive or dehumanizing any of the involved parties.
Hello Kitty, still a voice of reason here. Keep at me’.
I’ve decided that I am no longer reading the comments on this blog. Not just this story, the whole damn thing.
Bikeportland.org needs competition. Badly.
Will you be gonelong?
Ha ha… well, good luck!
Reports about him in the Oregonian story, suggest Smith at 26 years old, is one very messed up guy. Fortunately, he didn’t manage to kill the young kid riding in the seat next to him, too. Always have to be willing to hope that people with troubles will be able to set their lives straight, and not be a basket case and detriment to their friends, neighbors, and society, forever.
As bad as what he’s done is, people have done much worse, both older and younger, and come to have little or no remorse about it. I’m glad he’s not got to that point yet….if that’s his situation. Maybe there’s reason to hope there’s yet something in him to salvage.
Poor road design does not invite people to abuse mind-altering substances.
Both can contribute to the sort of collision that happened here, but they are not cause-and-affect. One is a result of institutional design and the other is the result of individual choice.
I’m not a policy or road design wonk — and frankly, I shouldn’t have to become one just to ride my bicycle safely in this city (but that’s another discussion for another time) — so I can’t speak to the effectiveness of one road design over another.
But I have been a car-owning, licensed driver at various times in my life, and I take a dim view of anyone who commits hit-and-run, whether they’re chemically impaired or not. So does Oregon law, which does not take into account whether or not impaired hit-and-run driver is supporting a family or not. There will be no winners here.
There are a lot of things unsaid in this article and the one posted in the Oregonian. Bottom line, no amount of painted stripes and signage is going to protect you from being hit by a car operated by a person under the influence.
But having a bike lane leading to a bridge where the bicyclist is then forced into the middle of the roadway under it will definitely increase your chances of being hit by any driver – drunk, stoned or not.
For those who are discounting the dangers of poor roadway design, this article (unlike the media coverage of the incident) shows the infrastructure that helped cause the death of a very experienced bicyclist named Jeffrey Donnelly:
The challenge in fixing this location relates to bureaucracies in Caltrans, VTA, and Santa Clara County, but with a big push from survivors and the Silicon Valley Bike Coalition they were able to improve a similar interchange one exit north after the death of cyclist Lauren Ward:
I’m sure you’ll notice the (unfortunate) trend here: it seems to take a body count to get these bureaucratic agencies to even take notice.