City, state sued for unsafe road design in death of Martin Greenough


A lawsuit (PDF) has been filed in the death of Martin Greenough, the man who was killed while bicycling on NE Portland Highway (a.k.a. Lombard) on December 12th of last year.

Greenough’s family filed the lawsuit yesterday. The suit says that the City of Portland, the State of Oregon, and the man who hit Greenough, Kenneth Smith, are all at fault for his death and are asking for $3.6 million in damages.

As we covered at length here on BikePortland, Greenough was hit in a section of Lombard — where the bike lane stops and the road narrows under the NE 42nd Avenue overpass — that was a known danger spot. We reported on the exact location just one day before he was hit. Tragically however, we learned Greenough was new to town and was very likely following the route suggested on official city and regional bike maps.

In the lawsuit, Greenough’s lawyer claims both the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Portland Bureau of Transportion had been aware of the “pinch point” for at least a year before the collision and that they failed to “failed to provide for safe travel for both motor vehicles and bicycles.”

Activists placed a ghost bike for Greenough in front of ODOT headquarters in January.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)


Greenough was hit in this gap of Lombard under NE 42nd.

Specifically, the lawsuit seeks up to $2 million from ODOT because the agency allegedly did not follow its own administrative rule that governs the signage and marking of bicycle lanes and paths (OAR 734-020-0060). For PBOT, the lawsuit asks for a maximum of $682,000 for negligence due to the city’s failure to abide by its own rules for defining bicycling lanes with pavement markings.

Back in January we visited the site where Greenough was killed and detailed why this stretch of road is dangerous by design.

The third defendant in the case is Kenneth Smith, whom the lawsuit blames for driving while intoxicated, failing to maintain control of his vehicle, failing to stop and administer aid, and so on. The suit says Smith is guilty of first degree manslaughter.

According to The Oregonian, Smith has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go to trial next week to contest the charges.

The is the third lawsuit filed against ODOT in the last three months. In February they were sued by disability rights advocates for not keeping up with safety infrastructure required by ADA law and earlier this month a class-action suit was filed against the agency for a spate of crashes allegedly caused by faulty design of a flyover ramp on Highway 217.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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