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Bicycle rider dies in collision on SE Flavel – UPDATED

Posted by on June 23rd, 2019 at 7:53 am

Looking eastbound on Flavel near 78th. Local residents say this is a popular route for cycling.

A man riding a bicycle was killed this morning. Police say the man was involved in a collision with someone driving a sedan on SE Flavel near 78th.

Ghost bike at the scene.
(Photo: D. Gebhart)

Not many details are known at this point. Below is the police statement:

On Sunday, June 23, 2019, at 3:32 a.m., East Precinct officers responded to the area of Southeast Flavel Street and Southeast 79th Avenue on a report of a person injured in a crash involving a sedan. Portland Fire medics arrived and determined the injured adult male was deceased at the scene.

Preliminary information indicates the male was riding a bicycle and was struck by the sedan. The driver of the sedan remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team is responding to assume the investigation.

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Southeast Flavel Street is closed from 77-80th Avenues and is expected to remain so for several hours while the investigators conduct the investigation.

If anyone has information about this incident, please call the non-emergency dispatch at (503) 823-3333.

After the deceased is identified and next of kin are notified, his identity will be released.

This location is just a few blocks from where Lydia Johnson was killed in 2016. And another woman, Pamela Seidel, was killed in this area (SE Henderson and 82nd) while biking in October 2018.

This intersection is also part of the route of the forthcoming Seventies Neighborhood Greenway. That project was funded a year ago and is currently still in the planning stages.

In reply to our post about the crash on Twitter this morning, reader Gerik Kransky said, “This is deeply unsettling.” “I ride my bike through here on a regular basis. It’s within a mile of my home and I want to see some physical protection for people who ride bikes on SE Flavel.”

Matchu Williams, an advocate for better transportation in this neighborhood who co-wrote a BikePortland article about gaps in southeast Portland infrastructure last summer, said the lack of protected spaces for vulnerable users is, “a public safety crisis.” “Our most vulnerable community members are repeatedly being killed as a result of unsafe behaviors and missing, safer infrastructure. The street designs offer no protection to the people that need it most in an area that has little political clout to affect change with city, state, and county officials.”

This is the second fatality of a bicycle rider in 2019.

Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.

UPDATE, 5:13pm 6/23: Police have arrested the driver in this collision. Here’s their latest statement:

The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team continues to investigate the fatal crash from earlier this morning. Investigators arrested 21 year-old Nicholas P. Martinez, the driver of the involved sedan (PHOTO).

Martinez was charged with Manslaughter II, Reckless Driving, and DUII (alcohol). He was lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center. There is no there other information for release at this time.

UPDATE, 6/25 at 1:27pm: Portland Police have identified the victim as 32-year-old Lance T. Hart.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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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. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

80 Comments
  • Avatar
    igor June 23, 2019 at 8:23 am

    I used to live in this stretch of Flavel, so the bike incidents in the area always stick with me:
    • Lydia Johnson at 82nd and Flavel in July 2016 (https://bikeportland.org/2016/07/30/a-woman-has-died-while-bicycling-on-se-82nd-at-flavel-188700)
    • Karla DeBaillie at 112th and Mt. Scott Boulevard (the extension of Flavel) in August 2016 (https://bikeportland.org/2016/08/05/fatal-bicycle-collision-at-se-112th-and-mt-scott-188979)
    • I remember another incident at 72nd and Flavel involving pedestrians, but can’t find a link. Maybe someone can refresh my memory.

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      David Hampsten June 23, 2019 at 10:25 am

      I seem to remember a crash at 92nd & Flavel before I left town in 2015, maybe a year or two earlier, as well as fatal crashes on 82nd nearby. Brentwood-Darlington, while in SEUL, is more like East Portland with all its fatal crashes and traffic injuries.

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  • Avatar
    Fred June 23, 2019 at 8:42 am

    I just can’t get used to your wording, where you say that a person riding a bicycle collided with a person driving a car. In fact, the car collided with (or made contact with) the rider of the bicycle, causing his death. The person driving the car was untouched, as far as we know.

    I know you’re trying to get away from emphasizing the mode of conveyance, but it creates a sense of false equivalence. The fact of the matter is that a person operating an automobile is controlling around 3000 lbs (curb weight of an average compact car) or 3500 lbs (mid-sized car) or 4500 lbs (large car or SUV). The bicycle rider is controlling around 30 lbs, plus his/her own weight, and therein lies the problem. The operator of the vehicle has to control about 100X more mass and associated momentum than the bicycle operator has to control, and however the motor vehicle contacts the bicycle and rider, the bicycle rider is horribly disadvantaged, by the laws of physics. I wish your writing could convey that disadvantage more clearly. I think you can do it without assigning blame to either party. Thanks.

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    • Avatar
      Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2019 at 11:09 am

      Fred,

      Please read the post again.

      When very few/no details are known, my default way of writing is to say “a bicycle rider was involved in a collision with”. I’m not saying the bicycle rider “collided with”. I’m saying, “was involved in a collision with”. IMO that is the most neutral way of saying it.

      And I disagree with you that I should try to convey any type of advantage/disadvantage to either of the vehicles. That is a slippery slope toward blame that I want to avoid at the earliest stage of an investigation. Again, my goal in this type of situation is to have a completely open mind to what happened and how it might have happened. We just don’t know. And I don’t think it’s wise to write anything that can be construed as advocacy or bias toward either of the vehicle operators at the earliest stages of a crash. I hope this helps clarify my thinking.

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      • Avatar
        El Biciclero June 24, 2019 at 9:39 am

        “A bicycle rider and his/her bicycle collided with a car/truck/van operated by an unknown driver”.

        Or, when more details are known, “Sally and her bike collided with/were hit by a car/truck/van driven by Bob.”

        Or, if we really know all the details, “Bob drove his car/truck/van into Sally and her bike”, or else “Sally steered her bike into the path of Bob’s vehicle”.

        Something like that should be clear enough and less awkward.

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    • Avatar
      soren June 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      A person died after being involved with a collision with a bullet. The shooter is cooperating with police and investigations are ongoing.

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      • Avatar
        Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2019 at 1:16 pm

        soren,

        do you know something about what happened beyond what has been released? IMO comparing the use of a car to a gun is completely off-base — unless we know for a fact that the person using the car intended to use it as a weapon to kill someone. Given what we know at this moment, it’s entirely possible that a person was driving a car in a completely “safe” and legal manner and for some reason a collision occurred and someone died. Let’s wait and see what happened.

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          soren June 23, 2019 at 5:02 pm

          Where did I even hint at “blame” or “fault” in my comment. A legal shooting is not described as ” a person was involved in a collision with a bullet”. The use of passive voice (“involved with) to describe an active and violent death is one of the mechanisms by which this society sanitizes this kind of violence. The person driving may not be at fault but the machine they were using killed someone. The use of “involved with” is completely unnecessary.

          There are endless ways to write about this kind of violent death without sanitizing it::

          A (traffic) collision killed a person cycling…

          A collision with a car/truck/suv killed a person cycling…

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        • Avatar
          soren June 23, 2019 at 5:23 pm

          Jonathan, I realize that you are trying to emphasize the people involved but by diminishing the role of the instrument (of violent death) you are, IMO, using the same rhetoric as the NRA:

          Guns/cars/suvs/trucks don’t kill people, people do.

          If the people are the problem — and not the instrument — then there is less need to regulate car/gun safety improvements.

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        • Avatar
          Fred June 24, 2019 at 7:09 am

          Jonathan, all I’m saying – and what I think you should be saying – is that the bicycle rider and the CAR collided. The bicycle rider did not collide with the driver of the car. The driver of the car was inside a steel cage. You could say, “A person riding a bicycle died after a car, driven by a person, collided with the bicycle rider.” I’m not trying to diminish the even-handedness you are trying to apply to these situations: you are right to emphasize that the car was driven by a person (Soren’s example of the bullet shows why). But even your high-school English teacher would advise you to state the facts. A bicycle rider simply cannot collide with the driver of a car, unless the bike rider flies thru the car’s window, or the car driver does the same.

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          • Avatar
            David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 12:20 pm

            Judging from the images, I’d have to say that the car, driven by an intoxicated individual at too high a speed (even for Portland), first hit the bicycle, which most likely fatally catapulted the bicycle driver, causing massive damage to front end of the car and possibly even popping open the front hood, blocking the view of the car driver. The car driver then drove their car a further 150 feet, using the bicycle as a friction brake, until coming to a complete stop in the middle of the yellow center line. The result: The car driver is in jail. The bicycle driver is dead. The bicycle is totaled. The car will now need to go into rehab and need to find a new driver. At least two families are devastated by this highly preventable incident.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 2:07 pm

              You say “highly preventable”. Do you think anyone other than Martinez could have prevented it? In other words this incident only seems highly preventable if we can depend on the good judgement of an intoxicated 21 year old.

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                J_R June 24, 2019 at 5:33 pm

                Yes. It is absolutely highly preventable. Ultimately it’s the driver, who chose to drink, and drink, and drink, and drink, and then drive who could have prevented it. Others include: the driver’s friends and the bartender, if there was one. In addition, attribute some of the problem to all of us who enable drunk driving by not providing adequate resources for traffic enforcement; allowing lenient sentences by the courts; our failure to amend the Oregon Constitution to allow random sobriety stops; the failure to require built in breath analyzers in all motor vehicles, etc.

                It’s outrageous that in response to the killing of 3000 people during one day in 2001, we spend billions of dollars per year and impose a penalty of at least an hour on every passenger on every airline flight, while we do virtually nothing to combat 1500 drunk driving deaths every month.

                These crashes caused by drunk drivers are highly preventable, we just choose to do virtually nothing.

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                David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 5:53 pm

                It’s preventable insofar as we have the technology to prevent it, such as speed governors based upon posted speed limits and car starters based upon the driver’s clean non-alcoholic breath. The fact that we as a society don’t mandate these technologies and instead give drivers the free option to kill and maim other more sober users at will is regrettable, to say the least.

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                soren June 25, 2019 at 10:54 am

                The EU recently mandated intelligent speed adaption for all cars/light-trucks sold (by 2022).

                https://industryeurope.com/eu-rules-intelligent-speed-assistance-in-all-new-cars-by-2022/

                And, of course, the impetus for this change was the successful use of this technology as part of Sweden’s vision zero program.

                http://casr.adelaide.edu.au/rsr/RSR2009/RS093003.pdf

                It’s strange how vision zero programs in Europe have taken such different approaches from programs in the USA. It’s almost as if “vision zero” in the USA is to some extent merely a rebranding of existing policy.

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      • Avatar
        Middle of The Road Guy June 24, 2019 at 8:26 am

        to channel my good friend 9Watts, that’s a blatant false equivalency.

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          soren June 24, 2019 at 5:22 pm

          For decades MADD have fought to make ignition interlocks mandatory but we, as a society, have fiercely resisted this inexpensive safety feature. Sadly, it’s not only voting adults who pay the ultimate price for this “individualistic” narcissism. Cars/trucks and are the top killers of children.

          https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/291043.php

          The study results suggest that 85% of alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths and 84-88% of nonfatal injuries in the US could be prevented over a 15-year period through installation of interlock devices in all new vehicles.

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          • Avatar
            soren June 24, 2019 at 5:44 pm

            and that comment should not have nested.

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        Dan June 24, 2019 at 10:25 am

        Your bullet analogy is bad. Just because it may be rare that the cyclist crashes into the car doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Off the top of my head: A cyclist bombing a hill crashing into a car stopped at a stop sign.

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        • Avatar
          David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 5:58 pm

          I’ve crashed (rear ended) into parked cars before. Not on purpose of course, but the sun was in my eyes and I wasn’t paying attention. Totaled the fork and tacoed the front wheel.

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    Toby Keith June 23, 2019 at 10:00 am

    This is very sad. I wonder if the cyclist was difficult to see or lacked appropriate lighting?

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      David Hampsten June 23, 2019 at 10:20 am

      I wonder how far over the speed limit the car driver was going as they left their lane and swerved into the bike lane – was there even time for the driver to stop before they hit the cyclist? Was the driver impaired or distracted? Were their headlights and brakes working properly?

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        Mike Quigley June 23, 2019 at 10:43 am

        3:32 a.m. Driver remained at the scene and is cooperating. This says bicycle rider is most likely responsible. Dark clothing? No lights? Stay tuned.

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          mark June 23, 2019 at 1:49 pm

          “Driver remained at the scene and is cooperating.”

          That does NOT indicate that the bike rider was likely responsible. That’s the trouble with the police press releases including this statement, it allows people without well-developed critical thinking skills to make broad assumptions.

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          • Avatar
            David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 3:19 am

            DUII, apparently, according to police charges.

            Mike Q, had this crash occurred on a street without bike lanes, the possibilities you list might normally seem reasonable. But the fact that there is a clearly marked bike lane on the photo, any sober driver driving within 5 mph of the speed limit even at 3 am would have seen the lanes very clearly and know perfectly well to not cross the lanes except for a right turn, whether the victim had bright clothing or not (which isn’t required by law) and a rear red reflector (which is required). A front light is neither here nor there. The fact the driver quite likely did illegally change lanes indicates that the driver was most likely going too fast, which is often caused by distraction or in this case impairment.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 11:05 am

              Even when approached from behind, a front light makes a cyclist more visible.

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                David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 11:55 am

                This is true. But we know that since the crash was fatal, the speed of the driver was well over 30 mph, likely 40+. Had it been 20, the chances of it being fatal would have been nearly nil (let alone the likelihood of the driver swerving into the victim). Given the higher speed (and driver intoxicant level), what difference does a front light versus street lighting make at this location, at that time, in this case? Even if the driver saw the victim, how could the driver react given his speed and befuddled state of mind?

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 12:10 pm

                In the general case being seen vs not being seeing can make all the difference. My point was not to be dismissive of front lighting for vehicles approaching from the rear.

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              • Avatar
                David Hampsten June 24, 2019 at 6:01 pm

                Depends on the light (blinky versus a fully-charged 1100 lumen LED for example), it’s angle (high beam versus aimed towards the ground), its mounting (handlebar versus helmet), and of course if it was on or not. But I get your point.

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        • Avatar
          l walker June 23, 2019 at 4:37 pm

          And the fact that the vast majority of cyclists killed on their bikes over the last twenty years in this city being the fault of the person hitting them with a car means nothing, right? Just because someone does the humane thing and does attempt to flee like an absolute lowlife, that absolutely and totally absolves them of any likely responsibility in the crash.

          Man, you sound like a freaking intellectual heavyweight.

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          SD June 23, 2019 at 7:57 pm

          Thanks for pointing out that people believe what you just said when cops put this in their official statements as boilerplate text. And, as usual, it was misleading.

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          SafeStreetsNow June 24, 2019 at 10:12 am

          The driver was arrested for drunk and reckless driving. Way to immediately jump to victim blaming. You defaced the death of an innocent and vulnerable road user. I hope the victim’s family doesn’t see these comments.

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          Matt June 24, 2019 at 11:48 am

          So, the driver was actually drunk and the police arrested him.

          We’re all awaiting for your apology for victim-blaming.

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  • Avatar
    Mark smith June 23, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Toby Keith
    This is very sad. I wonder if the cyclist was difficult to see or lacked appropriate lighting?Recommended 0

    Blaming the victim didn’t take long…

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    • Avatar
      JeffS June 23, 2019 at 11:25 am

      Neither did making assumptions about who the victim was.

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        Glenn II June 23, 2019 at 1:02 pm

        Generally the dead guy is the victim, I feel pretty confident saying. Even if it was an “accident” and “nobody” is at fault. The guy with dents and inconvenience, claiming HE’S the victim, when someone lies dead, would ordinarily be the perfect example of a narcissistic douchebag. Unless:

        – he was attacked by the guy on the bike, so ferociously that he not only feared for his life, but for some reason couldn’t just drive away, and had to run the guy down in self-defense

        – the guy on the bike intentionally committed suicide by car

        Can’t think of any more, and both of these are already a little on the outlandish side.

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    • Avatar
      Doug Hecker June 23, 2019 at 11:29 am

      JeffS
      Neither did making assumptions about who the victim was.Recommended 0

      The “victim blaming” opportunists are a plenty on this blog. I rarely see them add anything besides the cliches.

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      • Avatar
        l walker June 23, 2019 at 10:06 pm

        Because they’re always small minded bullies who like to harass cyclists and make us feel uncomfortable. Seriously, who would hear about a cyclist being hit and killed and have the first thought that goes through their mind be ‘How can I make this the fault of the person killed, without any evidence?’

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      Doug Hecker June 23, 2019 at 11:33 am

      Hate to hear about this happening so close to where I live. Glad the driver stayed.

      Chloe and PBOT have been clear about BD, subpar upgrades are what we get despite a tremendous disadvantage from what the rest of this city is afforded. I guess the upside is that we don’t suffer from over the top, unnecessary changes that they are so quick to bless other ‘hoods with like diverters, “meandering travel ways”, and protected bike lanes.

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      jeff June 23, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      you have ZERO idea if the rider was at fault…blowing a stop sign…drunk…high….so lets stop blaming anyone until there are more facts, including the driver.

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        Edward June 23, 2019 at 9:20 pm

        If the driver was “drunk” or “high” … we do this collective category of automatic blame. But why? Because we all view ourselves as “good sober drivers” so we would be more likely to sympathize with and maybe forgive a sober driver who messes up and gets into a fatal collision? The driver definitely plays a role. I don’t want to minimize that at all. But focusing on the driver and whether he was drunk or high minimizes how truly unsafe our system is. It’s entirely predictable that humans will keep behaving like humans and do stupid stuff, make horrible mistakes. The system should be built safer. This is an absolute tragedy.

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        JP June 24, 2019 at 8:10 am

        At the time you wrote this, you’re right. There was no information on who might be at fault. Now, we know. The driver was under the influence and was also charged with manslaughter and reckless driving. I know it’s frustrating when folks jump to conclusions, but I hope you’d agree that this type of scenario is more common than virtually any alternative. I invite you to peruse the 2019 traffic fatality tracking page here: https://bikeportland.org/fatality-tracker

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        • Avatar
          Edward June 24, 2019 at 11:25 pm

          Now that more information is out, I’m going out on a very long limb to double down on what I said earlier. When we focus our judgment on the wrong things one bad actor did (and it does look very bad and I do not want to minimize that at all, because those truly are horrifically awful details), our moral judgment doesn’t help us fix anything. There’s still a dead human being. And every person who rides a bike is at risk of being the next dead human being when it happens again … and it will happen again because humans make predictably bad choices. The system should be built so that when one human makes bad choices, another human does not end up dead.

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      l walker June 23, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      I bet a lot of these guys see these stories, and enjoy coming here and making us feel even worse than we already do when we hear about cyclists being killed. Think about the type of person who would intentionally do that.

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      Middle of The Road Guy June 24, 2019 at 8:27 am

      Sometimes we contribute to the negative outcomes we find ourselves in. Doesn’t mean anyone deserves to get hurt, but sometimes we contribute to the cause.

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        Dan A June 24, 2019 at 8:37 am

        Thank goodness we have you to remind us just one day after a cyclist has been killed by a drunk driver that dead people sometimes contribute to being killed. What a noble purpose that comment serves.

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        l walker June 24, 2019 at 9:33 am

        I’m sure if you’re ever killed by a drunk driver, your family will make sure to have that in the preamble at the funeral before the service starts.

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    Tom Hardy June 23, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    For sure, since the motorist stayed on the scene, the motorist’s insurance will pay for his/her damage to his/her vehicle, and will assuredly not receive a ticket.
    If it would have been a police bicycle or motorcycle the motorist hit, the motorist would have been in jail charged with attempted murder or premeditated murder.
    As it is, there will likely not be any mark on the motorists record, except possibly an endorsement.
    If the motorist was coming home from a pub. There will be only an attaboy.

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    • Hello, Kitty
      Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 11:12 am

      Now that the driver has been arrested, do you still believe this?

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    Terry D-M June 23, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Very sad in any case. 78th and Flavel is the crossing of the 70s Bikeway and where it slides west to Flavel Park to a new MUP south. Having worked on this project for years, I hope that PBOT takes this opportunity to remove a row of Parking and modernize and potect the bike Lanes from 80th to 72nd.

    This Bikeway will provide two crossings between 82nd and 72nd where currently there are none, a speedway design. When we get more details we can assess wherever these coming improvements 2020-2021 would have prevented this death.

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    PDXCyclist June 23, 2019 at 2:07 pm

    Reminder to everyone commenting that the family and friends of the deceased may be reading this news article including the comments section and we should all strive to be respectful in our comments.

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    matchupancakes June 23, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    This area has a history of fatal outcomes. There is a pattern of unsafe driving here with cars driving at excessive speeds upon exiting 82nd Ave and accelerating on the approach to I-205 and 82nd Ave highways on the collector streets (i.e. Johnson Creek, Flavel, Duke, Woodstock, Holgate). Flavel St, where the most recent vulnerable road user died, is a streamlined route to the Happy Valley communities including Rock Creek and the actual Mt. Scott peak. It is also two blocks away from Whitman Elementary and next to a Department of Human Services location adjacent to frequent service bus lines on 82nd Ave.

    Lydia Johnson was killed here by a right turning truck on Flavel St eastbound at the intersection with 82nd Ave. Pamela Seidel was one block north of Flavel St at the intersection of Henderson-Knapp at 82nd Ave. The intersection of Seidel’s death will be upgraded with Safe Routes to Schools funds in 2020 with the completion of the Knapp-Odgen neighborhood greenway.

    This is a public safety crisis. Our most vulnerable community members are repeatedly being killed as a result of unsafe behaviors and missing, safer infrastructure. The street designs offer no protection to the people that need it most in an area that has little political clout to affect change with city, state, and county officials.

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    matchupancakes June 23, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    78th & Flavel St is where the 70s Greenway will be constructed. Unfortunately, a number of the crossings at collectors are “paint only” in many locations with high Average Daily Traffic counts (e.g. SE 77th Ave & Woodstock). The Duke crossing leverages an existing signalized pedestrian SRTS crossing at 78th & Duke. If the person on the bike was attempting to turn left from Flavel St, the other person driving must not overcome a turning vehicle, but until more details emerge we have just a brief police description for now. 🙁

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 23, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    UPDATE, 5:13pm 6/23: Police have arrested the driver in this collision. Here’s their latest statement:

    The Portland Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team continues to investigate the fatal crash from earlier this morning. Investigators arrested 21 year-old Nicholas P. Martinez, the driver of the involved sedan (PHOTO).

    Martinez was charged with Manslaughter II, Reckless Driving, and DUII (alcohol). He was lodged at the Multnomah County Detention Center. There is no there other information for release at this time.

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      Dan A June 23, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      Without the DUII, doubtful he would have been charged with anything.

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        Middle of The Road Guy June 24, 2019 at 8:28 am

        Bad haircut at a minimum.

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        El Biciclero June 24, 2019 at 9:54 am

        See, I hate to be cynical, but this feels about right. Plain old inattention or bad driving that kills someone is NBD, but if the driver was impaired, then BOOM. When should we consider plain, old carelessness—especially if accompanied by actual infractions (speeding, traffic control violations, failure to yield)—to be as serious as impaired driving that results in the same outcome? In one sense, doesn’t running someone over while sober demonstrate even worse driving habits/abilities than doing it drunk? Yes, deciding to start out drunk could be the worst of all, and might be considered some oblique form of “pre-meditation”, but those who choose every day to exercise bad driving habits for whatever reason show just as much—if not more—disregard for the safety of others.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 11:19 am

          If you criminalize inattention while driving, everyone who has ever driven would be in jail. The human brain is simply not capable of focused attention for extended periods.

          I fully acknowledge the problem, but punishment is not the solution.

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            Matt June 24, 2019 at 11:54 am

            If what you say about human attention spans is true, then nobody should be driving anything anywhere.

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 12:18 pm

              If safety were our sole consideration, you’d probably be right. Eliminate driving and the risk from driving goes to zero.

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            El Biciclero June 24, 2019 at 12:40 pm

            I’m not talking about “criminalizing” inattention, per se, but maybe we should think about the ways in which we enable—even encourage—inattention by creating the assumption that roads will be cleared of all obstructions, and anyone who has the audacity to use the road while not inside a motor vehicle is asking to get run over.

            Maybe we should start “criminalizing” failure to drive in such a way that the inevitable momentary lapses in attention aren’t deadly. Any collision with a vulnerable road user should be considered so-called prima facie evidence of careless driving, unless rigorous investigation/reconstruction determines that there was no impairment, willful distraction, concomitant traffic violation (e.g., speeding/VBR, failure to signal, failure to keep to lane, etc.), vehicle/equipment violations (dim headlights, dirty windshield, bad brakes, etc.), corrective-lens-use failure, other statutory violation (e.g., suspended license, no insurance)—AND some determination of actual, legal contributory negligence (i.e., NOT the old no-helmet-dark-clothing nonsense) can be conclusively determined on the part of the VRU.

            Maybe that?

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            • Hello, Kitty
              Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 2:00 pm

              >>> …creating the assumption that roads will be cleared of all obstructions, and anyone who has the audacity to use the road while not inside a motor vehicle is asking to get run over. <<<

              Do you really think this is a helpful diagnosis of the problem, or that anyone outside of a vanishingly small and extreme minority actually thinks this way?

              That misdiagnosis may have led you to a solution that sounds awfully like a presumption of guilt (and lack of intent) for a criminal act… which, even if it were a good idea (it's not) violates some of the most fundamental precepts of our system of justice.

              I think the key to making transportation safer (it will never be free of risk) lies in technological and social change. Probably a bunch of new cities as well. And not mischaracterizing the fundamental problem would probably help too.

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                El Biciclero June 24, 2019 at 3:07 pm

                “>>> …creating the assumption that roads will be cleared of all obstructions, and anyone who has the audacity to use the road while not inside a motor vehicle is asking to get run over. <<<

                Do you really think this is a helpful diagnosis of the problem, or that anyone outside of a vanishingly small and extreme minority actually thinks this way?

                Well, actually, I think this is a fairly accurate diagnosis of a large part of The Problem. An exacerbating factor that amplifies The Problem is that you may also be correct in assuming that only a “vanishingly small” minority consciously thinks this way—I attribute that to Car Head. I would respectfully submit that a large and looming majority (or at least a significant minority—not “vanishingly small”) of drivers subscribe to exactly the assumptions I (perhaps hyperbolically) named, based strictly on the apparently rising prevalence of distracted driving, a large portion of which is brought about by intentional use of mobile devices that take both eyes and attention off of the road. Why would drivers even contemplate doing this unless they assumed that the way would be clear, and anyone who deigned to encroach upon The Way would take due precautions to protect themselves, on pain of death? Further evidence of these assumptions can be found in every failure to yield infraction (cited or merely observed), every right turn on red made while the driver was looking left (I, myself was hit by a car in this fashion while riding), every vehicle exiting a driveway without stopping prior to crossing the sidewalk (I have also been hit while walking due to this one)—any number of casual infractions perpetrated by any number of drivers every single day of every single year.

                That misdiagnosis may have led you to a solution that sounds awfully like a presumption of guilt (and lack of intent) for a criminal act… which, even if it were a good idea (it’s not) violates some of the most fundamental precepts of our system of justice.

                I think you misunderstood my use of quotes around “criminalize”. I was re-using your word for my original point, which I suppose, given that I did say “as seriously as” in reference to DUII, which is a criminal offense, you could have reasonably concluded I meant, but wasn’t what I really intended. I do think it should make one subject to more thorough investigation than it currently does, and there should be some penalty, even if it does not rise to the level of “criminal”.

                I think the key to making transportation safer (it will never be free of risk) lies in technological and social change. Probably a bunch of new cities as well.

                Uh-huh. And the “social change” that I would advocate would be for folks to consciously think about what they are assuming when they get behind the wheel, and how government and society can raise the collective consciousness about those assumptions. Not to co-opt, but we need more “woke” drivers.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 4:32 pm

                Considering that vanishingly few urban roads are ever “free of obstacles” (e.g. other cars), I don’t know why anyone would make even an implicit assumption that there would be none.

                As to why drivers use mobile devices while driving, it’s probably because, while the risk of a crash increases dramatically when using one, the vast majority of the time, such a crash does not materialize, and so the benefit may seem worth the risk. I do not endorse this calculus, but it is one that I would bet almost all drivers have made at one time or another, either consciously or unconsciously, and had our experience validated with “no crash”. Perhaps even you, fully cognizant of the risks, fully “woke” to danger you present to others, have let your mind wander or taken your eyes off the road while driving.

                Because I think people are fundamentally ill suited to being fully attentive drivers for more than short trips, I’m not sure that “woke” drivers are really the answer (though it certainly wouldn’t hurt); I think the solution is fewer people driving. The only way I see to do that in the short or medium term is to automate driving.

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                El Biciclero June 24, 2019 at 7:09 pm

                Well, I can see my lack of precision is leaving holes in my argument big enough for my intended meaning to fall through.

                “Considering that vanishingly few urban roads are ever “free of obstacles” (e.g. other cars), I don’t know why anyone would make even an implicit assumption that there would be none.”

                Perhaps the assumptions I am thinking of could be more narrowly re-stated. Instead of “the road will be clear of obstacles”, I should say instead, “the only impediments to my progress will be other Very Large Vehicles, traveling at roughly the same speed and in the same direction as I am, to which I only need to pay a fraction of my attention for a fraction of a second at a time in order to avoid personal injury to myself—and I’m willing to gamble with the safety of others…” because “…anyone small enough or slow enough to be easily injured by my car will see or hear me coming and stay out of my way because they know I can kill them and get away with it.”

                But again, watch how people drive, and you’ll see what they are and are not assuming.

                “As to why drivers use mobile devices while driving, it’s probably because, while the risk of a crash increases dramatically when using one, the vast majority of the time, such a crash does not materialize, and so the benefit may seem worth the risk.”

                I think another way of stating “worth the risk” is, “assuming nothing will happen”, i.e., “nothing other than what I already expect to be in front of me will appear in front of me”. This is the assumption that we foster in our cars-first culture.

                Perhaps even you, fully cognizant of the risks, fully “woke” to danger you present to others, have let your mind wander or taken your eyes off the road while driving.

                There’s a big difference between being cognizant of the danger one presents to others and actually doing something to mitigate it, vs. expecting others to mitigate it by staying out of your way or armoring themselves. Yes, there have been times I’ve caught myself not paying as much attention as I should, but I also have striven to develop driving habits such as always looking in the direction I intend to go before turning (i.e., not staring to the left while turning to the right), consciously “scanning” multiple points from the periphery, to the center, to the opposite periphery to avoid losing small things in the saccades between the fixed points of my gaze, preemptively slowing in the dark or in the presence of VRUs (especially children)—anything I can think of to reasonably lessen the chances that I hit someone with my car, even if “someone” isn’t paying attention to me.

                All that said, I agree that “people are fundamentally ill suited to being fully attentive drivers”, and wonder what other kinds of tasks that are equally as dangerous have yet to be relegated to mundane, daily activities in which all and sundry may participate—because we actually recognize their danger? I can’t just go down to the park and start whacking golf balls; I can’t practice my archery skills on the playground—I mean, contrived examples, sure, but what else compares to driving that people would automatically assume was insanely dangerous, while assuming the opposite about driving a car?

                Anyway, I think we agree that people suck at driving, and the more we can convince them to do less of it, the better.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 9:17 pm

                >>> the only impediments to my progress will be other Very Large Vehicles, traveling at roughly the same speed and in the same direction as I am <<>> I’m willing to gamble with the safety of others…” because “…anyone small enough or slow enough to be easily injured by my car will see or hear me coming and stay out of my way because they know I can kill them and get away with it. <<<

                I don't believe that a significant fraction of people in our society are fundamentally sociopathic. Some people are woefully unskilled drivers, others have been conditioned by their experiences, and we all have biological limitations, but most people are not callous about the idea of injuring or killing others. I have had my share of negative experiences on the road, but with only a small handful of exceptions, I have never felt that someone would be nonchalant about hurting me.

                This just feels like "othering".

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 24, 2019 at 9:21 pm

                Let’s try that again:

                >>> the only impediments to my progress will be other Very Large Vehicles, traveling at roughly the same speed and in the same direction as I am <<<

                Untrue in an urban environment where cars are entering and exiting, stopping randomly, turning across the street, and, in some cases, driving straight toward you, not to mention people getting in and out of cars, crossing the street, etc. We are all aware of this activity, both consciously and subconsciously. No one has such a simplistic model of driving.

                >>> I’m willing to gamble with the safety of others…” because “…anyone small enough or slow enough to be easily injured by my car will see or hear me coming and stay out of my way because they know I can kill them and get away with it. <<<

                I don’t believe that a significant fraction of people in our society are fundamentally sociopathic. Some people are woefully unskilled drivers, others have been conditioned by their experiences, and we all have biological limitations, but most people are not callous about the idea of injuring or killing others. I have had my share of negative experiences on the road, but with only a small handful of exceptions, I have never felt that someone would be nonchalant about hurting me.

                This just feels like “othering”.

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                El Biciclero June 25, 2019 at 7:35 am

                OK. I think this is a good discussion, but I don’t think I can take it much further. One last response:

                “We are all aware of this activity, both consciously and subconsciously. No one has such a simplistic model of driving.”

                I have been deliberately using the strongest characterizations of what I am attempting to describe, so that it starts to sound like the Big Deal it truly is. With respect to your observation above, I would submit that more and more people count on their “subconscious awareness” to a much greater degree than they should—again, assuming that the current, momentary roadway circumstances will continue. And further again, if people did not fundamentally have such a “simplistic” view of driving, there would not be such an epidemic of intentional distraction behind the wheel.

                “>>> ‘anyone small enough or slow enough to be easily injured by my car will see or hear me coming and stay out of my way because they know I can kill them and get away with it.’ <<<"
                I don’t believe that a significant fraction of people in our society are fundamentally sociopathic.

                Again, I used forceful language, but I’m not saying people are knowingly sociopathic, but people have assumptions that they would never say out loud, but that inform their m.o. every day. Perhaps instead of “get away with it”, we could say, “…and I and society, and the legal system will do everything they can to make it your fault, as long as I’m not drunk”.

                All drivers know this. I know this as a driver, a bicyclist, or pedestrian. I have been the “victim” on two occasions due to the assumption that I either wouldn’t be there, or would scurry out of the way. Granted, only two drivers have actually injured me, personally, but I see the same behavior day in and day out due to assumptions made not out of sociopathy, but out of “privilege”, if you will, simply because our culture treats the car as king, and like any “good” king, he wouldn’t just lop off people’s heads for no good reason, but His Majesty has certain expectations about how the peasants will behave.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty June 25, 2019 at 11:00 am

                You suggest it is lack of consequences for injuring/killing another person that leads to bad driving; I think it is cognitive limitations, coupled with poor training and conditioning (people rarely appear on my left, so I’ll focus on the right, where danger is always present). Perhaps I am biased because I’ve never interacted with a person who expressed concern about the legal consequences of causing injury, whereas I’ve heard several people express how awful it would be if they hurt someone.

                We can disagree on this point — the problem is that your view leads to a “let’s ratchet up the consequences” approach, which I think is not likely to be productive. My view leads more to a “let’s understand that things are going to go wrong and look for ways to mitigate them” approach, similar to VZ.

                The problem with my outlook in this forum is that people often mistake it for victim blaming and mollycoddling “those people”; I don’t differentiate between “those people” and “us” because the reality is that most of us do drive at least some of the time, and I guarantee you we all make mistakes, even those who shout the loudest about how bad (other) drivers are.

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    B. Carfree June 23, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    It seems like the police actually arresting and charging a deadly motorist with felonies should ease some of the pain. Unfortunately, it does very little in this regard. The fact is we have created and continue to support a transportation paradigm that says, “Get in a car and drive with utter disregard for others if you wish to move about.” It’s deadly, destroys communities and, in a much shorter time-frame than we thought just a few years ago, is likely to kill hundreds of millions (billions?) more innocent people.

    When we stop calling transit, walking, wheel-chairing, scootering and cycling “alternative transportation” then maybe we’re on the road to a reasonable transportation system.

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      Fred June 24, 2019 at 7:11 am

      COTW (comment of the week).

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      Middle of The Road Guy June 24, 2019 at 8:30 am

      There seems to be a lot less actual comeuppance regardless of the crime.

      Is it the DA office, lack of prison space, societal values?

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    Sheilagh Griffin June 24, 2019 at 9:09 am

    Two lives “lost” in this collision. So sad for the deceased and family. This will be very difficult for the driver, 21 is a young age to face this much – not an excuse, just an observation. This collision is heartbreaking in so many ways!

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    matchupancakes June 24, 2019 at 10:27 am

    “[…] it appeared the crash started at 78th and the bike was dragged about 150 feet.”

    I’m so saddened by all of this.

    https://www.koin.com/news/crashes/bicyclist-dies-in-crash-with-sedan-in-se-portland/2094051786

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    Tom June 24, 2019 at 11:54 am

    The “Safe Ride Home” program should be expanded to include at least every weekend, not just a few holidays, with funding coming from existing liqueur license and TNC fees. Bartenders should be given the ability to give out the voucher codes as they feel warranted, and the codes should time-out if not used to prevent abuse. Currently the Vision Zero program seems very week on drunk driving.

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    Dan A June 24, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I suspect that most terrible drunk drivers start out as terrible sober drivers.

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    Andrew June 25, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Reading this stuff is tough. I ride to work every night in outer east Portland. I do as much as I can to remain visible, I take the lane when needed for safety, light myself up like a Christmas tree, behave predictably, but it’s always in my mind that it may not even matter and a ghost bike might be placed along my commute one of these days. Riding my bicycle to my $14/hr night watch job is a life threatening activity. This death happened on flavel, could have easily been Prescott, or Glisan. Riding home at 6am is the worst. It seems like everyone is just a little more pissed off in the morning, and it really shows. All I want to do is make it home in one piece so I can continue to do the things I enjoy. And I’m sure drivers want to get where their going without killing anyone, or being killed by another driver. I get it, living is inherently dangerous. But death by car seems to be an acceptable inevitability.

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    Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 25, 2019 at 1:28 pm

    UPDATE, 6/25 at 1:27pm: Portland Police have identified the victim as 32-year-old Lance T. Hart.

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