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Category: fatal collisions

Remembering Mitch York, Portland’s latest victim of traffic violence

Remembering Mitch York, Portland’s latest victim of traffic violence

Mitch York, self-portrait. May 2016.

Mitch York, self-portrait. May 2016.

55-year-old northeast Portland resident Mitch York died on Saturday while he was riding his bike across the St. Johns Bridge.

He was likely on his way to another ride on some of his favorite roads in the west hills. Mitch was only a few tenths of a mile from the quiet backroads, steep climbs, and gravel roads he often set out to explore.

Our picture of who Mitch was is still coming into focus, but it’s clear from his photography that cycling played a large role in his life.

From what we know so far based on his website at, Mitch grew up in Boise, Idaho. His first serious athletic pursuit was baseball, which he played in high school. Then in 1976, during his sophomore year, he discovered skateboarding and it completely took over his life. Based on his own account, riding skateboards — and photographing his friends doing it — became his all-consuming passion.

“Over the last 30 years I have also fallen in love with road cycling…loving the pure solitude of a long ride in the mountains, or country road. Loving the different people and kindred spirits I’ve met and bonded with…”
— Mitch York

35 years later and he’s still skating, and he credits road cycling with keeping his body in good enough shape to do it. Like many of us he rode for the beauty of backroads and the riding buddies you share them with.

“Over the last 30 years I have also fallen in love with road cycling and have worked at it the way I worked at skating,” he wrote on his website four years ago, “loving the pure solitude of a long ride in the mountains, or country road. Loving the different people and kindred spirits I’ve met and bonded with over this unbelievably difficult sport that has kept me in good enough shape over the years to be able still go skate a pool when I want to without embarrassing myself.”

Mitch was a professional photographer with an impressive portfolio of commercial shoots, portraits, and architectural images.

His Instagram and Strava accounts are full of beautiful images of roads many of us have ridden:

like Rocky Butte, where he liked to do hill repeats;


A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

the Columbia River Gorge;

#oregon#cycling#highway30#longhardride #99miles#soloriding

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Larch Mountain Road;


A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Mt. Hood backroads,

#Prayers#MtHoodGravel#Before theFall#23mmClinchers#PlasticBikes#gratefulheart

A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

and even the St. Johns Bridge,


A photo posted by Mitch York (@yitchmork) on

Mitch’s good friend Chris Butler told me this morning that Mitch, “Loved to ride his bike. And he loved the biking culture in Portland.” When Chris visited Portland in September, he recalled that Mitch took him to half a dozen bike shops. “He really wanted me to understand what cycling was in Portland. He was very proud of it.” After showing Chris around town, Mitch took him on his two favorite rides: a 90-mile loop from northeast Portland, across the St. Johns Bridge and up over the west hills into Forest Grove; and a 63-mile loop east on Marine Drive and Historic Highway 30 to Latourell Falls and back.

“Two incredible rides I won’t forget,” Butler shared.

Mitch is survived by his wife, son and daughter. May he rest in peace.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Collision on St Johns Bridge kills bicycle rider – Updated

Collision on St Johns Bridge kills bicycle rider – Updated

View of the west end of the St. Johns Bridge. Despite being a very popular and important bikeway, it's quite inhospitable for users not inside a motor vehicle.

View of the west end of the St. Johns Bridge. Despite being a very popular and important bikeway, it’s quite inhospitable for users not inside a motor vehicle.

A man died while riding his bike on the St Johns Bridge today. He became the 37th person to die as a result of a traffic collision in Portland thiss year.

Not many details have been released. I’ve pasted the most recent police statement below:

On Saturday October 29, 2016, at 11:25 a.m., North Precinct and Traffic Division officers responded to the West end of the St. Johns Bridge on the report of a crash involving a bicycle rider and a driver.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located a male adult bicycle rider critically injured. Medical efforts were not successful and he died at the scene.

The involved driver has remained at the scene and is cooperating with investigators.

The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team is responding to conduct an investigation.

This hits home for me because I ride at that location at least a few times a week.

The St Johns Bridge is a vital connection point to Forest Park, Sauvie Island, the West Side, and more. Unfortunately it’s a very auto-centric place where biking is high-stress and can be dangerous.

ODOT had a chance to reconfigure the lanes on the bridge when it underwent a major renovation in 2005, but they decided against bike lanes despite an independent traffic engineering study (PDF here) that showed there would be no loss of capacity or operational impact if they striped one standard motorized vehicle lane in each direction instead of two. ODOT sees this facility as an important freight route and wanted to make sure it maintained as much freight capacity as possible.

ODOT’s regional manager at the time was Matt Garrett, who is now the agency’s director. In 2005 I had a tense exchange with Garrett where he essentially admitted that there is nowhere for bicycle users to go on the bridge. The sidewalks are technically not wide enough for bicycle riders and walkers and the main lanes are not safe for mixed traffic.

In 2012 they added sharrows; but those are hard to see and most people in cars and trucks go so fast it doesn’t feel safe to use them.

I’m in Bend this weekend racing cyclocross. I’ll have more to say about this on Monday. I shared more thoughts about it on Twitter. You can read the full thread here.

I’ll update this post as I learn more.

UPDATE: Police have arrested the driver :

The driver involved in today’s fatal crash on the St. Johns Bridge was arrested after a crash investigation by Traffic Division officers.

42-year-old Joel Aaron Schrantz of North Portland was booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a charge of Criminally Negligent Homicide. He’ll be arraigned on Monday.

The bicycle rider has been tentatively identified as a man in his 50s. Family has not yet been notified so the deceased’s name is being withheld at this time.

Investigators learned that Schrantz was driving his 1995 Toyota 4Runner northbound and was stopped at a red light on Northwest Bridge Avenue at the entrance to the St. Johns Bridge. When the light turned green, Schrantz accelerated into the curve and lost control of the vehicle as it began to fishtail as he turned onto the bridge. Schrantz failed to maintain control of his vehicle as it slid into the westbound lanes of the bridge, where he collided with the bicycle rider who was riding westbound across the bridge. The rider was knocked from his bicycle and came to rest underneath the front of an unrelated vehicle being driven westbound.

Investigators examined Schrantz’ vehicle and noted that the rear tires were bald and had no traction. Investigators learned that Schrantz was aware of the bad condition of his tires and other vehicle equipment issues making the 4Runner unsafe to drive.

Schrantz’ driver’s license is suspended and he’ll face additional traffic charges once the investigation is complete. He was not impaired by drugs or alcohol.

UPDATE #2: The man who died was 55-year-old Mitchell York of northeast Portland. The PPB say investigators have learned that, “York was a dedicated bicycle rider, logging more than 500 miles a week.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

Sheriff’s office blames deceased victim in early morning collision near Stayton

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.(Photo: Marion County Sheriff's Office)

The scene on Shaff Road SE near Stayton this morning.
(Photo: Marion County Sheriff’s Office)

A person was killed this morning while bicycling on a rural road just east of Stayton, a small town about sixty miles south of Portland.

We don’t always cover fatal bicycle collisions so far away from the Portland metro area; but the statement about this one just released by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office deserves a closer look. The language used in the statement shows how far Oregon law enforcement agencies have to go to create a culture around traffic deaths that is in line with Vision Zero principles.

According to the Marion County Sheriff’s office, the collision occurred when someone driving a motor vehicle hit a bicycle rider from behind. Read their official statement (released just two and-a-half hours after the collision) and think about how the language paints the relative culpability of each party:

Around 6:30 a.m., this morning, deputies with the Marion County Sheriff’s Office were called to a vehicle versus bicyclist crash on Shaff Road SE near Rainwater Road SE near Stayton. When deputies arrived they found a single vehicle had struck a bicyclist killing the cyclist instantly.

Early indications show that the cyclist was traveling east on Shaff Road when an eastbound minivan struck the bicycle. The area the crash took place has very little shoulder and no lighting. At the time of the crash it was dark, rainy and the cyclist was wearing dark clothing and no light on the bicycle.

The driver of the vehicle remained on the scene and is cooperating with investigators. Identities of the involved will be released once the appropriate notifications have been made. Shaff Road was closed for 2 hours while investigators processed the scene, Shaff Road has now reopened for regular traffic.

When this information is absorbed by the public via the local media — most of whom simply reprint these statements verbatim without telling the audience they’re doing so — what do you think the takeaways are?

The Sheriff’s Office statement goes out of its way to make excuses for the auto user and creates the perception that the bicycle user was acting irresponsibly. A culture where driving is the dominant paradigm interprets a statement like this as something like, “Well, that bicyclist had it coming. They really ought to stay off those dangerous roads.”

Let’s be clear: There is no Oregon law against riding in the dark, riding in the rain, riding to the left of the fog line (especially when there’s no shoulder to ride in), or wearing dark clothing. Oregon law also says you don’t need a rear light (only a rear reflector). Despite the fact that the bicycle rider appears to have been operating legally on the roadway, this statement unfairly creates an aura of guilt around one party while creating sympathy for the other.

This orientation of supportive language around the person operating the motor vehicle, combined with the tone of blame used to describe the actions of a potentially innocent bicycle user who can no longer speak for themselves, is all too common.

Meanwhile, the person who was operating their vehicle in such a way that it collided with another road user and caused their death, is portrayed as being a good citizen who, “remained at on the scene and is cooperating” — actions that are not only required by Oregon law but are potentially felony criminal offenses if not obeyed. Furthermore, in this case the person driving the car had much more legal responsibility to begin with because they decided to overtake a vulnerable road user, not to mention the greater moral responsibility that comes with operating a vehicle that’s so easily capable of killing another person.

Given all that, why does the Sheriff’s statement not mention whether or not the auto user was distracted? Or whether or not their windshield wipers were turned on and working effectively? And why no mention of Oregon’s safe passing law that requires people to give bicycle riders plenty of space when overtaking them? Why no language about whether or not the auto user was going a safe speed given that it was dark, rainy, and there was no shoulder for a bicycle rider to use? Was the driver using the car’s headlights?

If Oregon is serious about vision zero, law enforcement agencies need to get a lot more perspective and sensitivity around these issues. Language is powerful and it shapes our culture — the same culture that informs the behaviors of road users and the people who design and patrol them. Police agencies must stop assigning blame in media statements. Stick to the facts known and leave other speculative assumptions out of it — especially when those assumptions are the result of inherent bias in favor of one type of road user and against another.

This is the 379th person to die while using Oregon roads so far this year, a total that’s nearly nine percent higher than the 348 people who had died by this date in 2015.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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A suspected drunk driver has hit and killed a man who was walking across Division Street

A suspected drunk driver has hit and killed a man who was walking across Division Street

The intersection of Division at SE 124th near where Damon Burton was killed.

The intersection of Division at SE 124th near where Damon Burton was killed.

A man was arrested yesterday morning for recklessly driving his car into a person who was trying to cross the street in southeast Portland.

40-year-old Clifford Eugene Perry faces charges of Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII) and Reckless Driving. Perry will be arraigned in Multnomah County Court today.

On Sunday evening Perry was driving westbound on Division near 124th (map) “at a high rate of speed” (according to Portland Police investigators) prior to coming into contact with 61-year-old Damon Patrick Burton. Perry, who the police suspect was drunk, then continued driving on Division until crashing into a gas station at 122nd. Burton lived in the neighborhood and was trying to cross Division from south to north prior to being hit.

(The police have not said where exactly Burton was crossing from, but it appears from photos taken by other news outlets that Burton was likely crossing at 124th.)

Division is one of the deadliest streets in Portland and has been a part of the bureau of transportation’s High Crash Corridor program for years. According to PBOT data Division has 50 percent more walking-related collisions than average.

The cross-section of Division where Burton was killed is daunting. He was trying to cross over nine lanes — two auto parking lanes, two bike lanes, four standard vehicle lanes, and a center turn lane.

According to the city of Portland’s Vision Zero Crash Map, this same section of Division has been the scene of two fatal and three serious injury collisions since 2005.

Mr. Burton is the 31st 32nd person to die on Portland streets so far this year and the ninth person to be struck and killed while walking. 37 people died on Portland’s streets in all of 2015 and there were 10 fatalities that involved someone walking. If this pace continues we would have 47 deaths this year which would be the most since 1998. This is also the second fatal collision involving a walker on Division this year. A person was killed while crossing Division at 156th on January 12th, which spurred PBOT to install a rapid flash beacon at that location shortly thereafter.

This latest fatality comes two days after advocates joined with City Commissioner Steve Novick and other agency leaders at a “Rally to end unsafe streets.” Burton’s death also comes as many in the community are reeling following a spate of preventable roadway tragedies that have taken the lives of vulnerable users.

19-year-old Larnell Bruce was intentionally struck and killed with a car by a man with ties to white supremacist groups on August 10th in Gresham; 15-year-old Fallon Smart was hit and killed by a reckless driver on Hawthorne Blvd on August 19th; and 15-year-old Bradley Fortner is still in the Intensive Care Unit with a brain injury suffered after being hit by someone driving on Columbia Blvd while walking to school in north Portland on August 30th.

On Saturday in Beaverton a 61-year-old woman was hit and killed by a motor vehicle operator while jogging. She was trying to cross NW Baseline at 166th.

UPDATE, 9/6 at 9:00 pm: Another person has been hit on Division near this same intersection. It happened Tuesday night. Here is the police statement:

On Tuesday September 6, 2016, at 8:44 p.m., East Precinct officers responded to the report that a pedestrian was struck by a driver at Southeast 148th Avenue and Division Street and that the driver fled the area.

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the male pedestrian suffering from traumatic injuries. He was transported by ambulance to a Portland hospital for treatment and his current condition is not known.

Preliminary information indicates that after striking the pedestrian, the driver fled the area but then returned and was providing aid to the pedestrian. Prior to police arrival, the driver left again and a female came to the scene and drove away in the suspect vehicle.

Officers engaged the female driver in a short pursuit before she crashed at Southeast 150th Avenue and Main Street, where she was taken into custody.

Officers are searching the area for the driver, described as a Hispanic male in his early-40s.

Traffic Division officers are at the scene conducting an investigation.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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A life lost too soon: Photos and thoughts from the Fallon Smart memorial ride

A life lost too soon: Photos and thoughts from the Fallon Smart memorial ride

Fallon Smart Memorial Ride-42.jpg

Hawthorne Boulevard was open only to mourners of Fallon Smart during tonight’s memorial.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Portland failed Fallon Smart.

The bright and beautiful girl of just 15 years died on August 19th while walking across Hawthorne Boulevard. The person who killed her was driving 55-60 mph — more than twice the posted speed limit — and swerved around a stopped car just before impact.

This tragic event has shaken a large part of our community to the core. After a week of protests and visits to the scene of this tragic crime, a memorial ride returned to the site tonight.

It started at Salmon Street Fountain where several hundred people amassed and adorned their bikes with flowers before riding to Portland City Hall.

Many members of Fallon’s family were on the ride: her mom, her dad, her uncle, her grandma, her grandpa, her stepmom, and her little brother.

Fallon’s uncle, Shane Smart, spoke in front of City Hall. He said that, “There doesn’t have to be so much bureaucracy and red tape to make the streets safer.”

After massing at City Hall, the group was escorted by several Portland Police officers on motorcycles across the Hawthorne Bridge to the site of the collision at 43rd. (Special thanks to Portland Police for their help at this event. Their presence allowed us to ride to Hawthorne and 43rd without the indignity of taking side streets and they stopped traffic which allowed us to stay together as a group and take time to pay our respects to Fallon without worrying about any impatient drivers.)

At 43rd and Hawthorne there were several dozen people already there when we arrived. They were holding flowers and standing solemnly as groups of bicycle riders rolled up.

Just feet away from where Fallon’s body came to rest, her family members and friends from school bravely grabbed the microphone and shared their feelings in front of the crowd.

Fallon’s mom Fawn Lengvenis said that her daughter was very bright. She had tested off the charts for IQ and was a budding leader with that rare mix of smarts, humility and charisma. “She was one of those people,” Fawn Lengvenis said, “who would have progressed the whole society if she would have lived.”

Fallon’s dad also spoke. “Please… just… slow down,” was all he could get out before breaking down in tears and walking away.

It was an emotional night — a night that strengthens our resolve to do more to hold our leaders accountable and do everything we can to prevent this from ever happening again.

Below are more photos from the event…

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Fallon’s stepmom was passing out bracelets that read: Fallon Smart: Rest in Power.
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At 43rd and Hawthorne.
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Fallon Smart’s mom.
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The crowd was full of young kids and families.
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Fawn Lengvenis shared a few words about her daughter.
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I completely lost it when Fallon’s little brother spoke.
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A Buddhist monk led a chant for Fallon.
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Jessica Engelman from Bike Loud PDX gathered signatures for this letter to Mayor Hales and city commissioners.
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Once flowers were laid on the crosswalk across the entire street, people didn’t dare drive over them and the street was closed to motor vehicle traffic.

I cried a lot tonight. I was overwhelmed with emotion once I stopped taking photos and sat in the street while I listened to Fallon’s family and friends speak. It was a mix of things that brought the tears. I grieve for Fallon and her family and friends. But I didn’t know her, so I think my sadness comes from being mad at myself for not doing more to prevent her death.

I’m sick of covering rides like this. Our streets are dominated by killing machines and the absurdity of that fills me with rage.

Portland is at a turning point. We must fight against the onslaught of traffic violence that’s taking over our neighborhoods — or it will consume us and there will be many more memorial rides in our future.

Thank you to all the activists who are out in the streets trying to make a difference.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

BikePortland is supported by the community (that means you!). Please become a subsriber today. You can also make a one-time donation here.

Correction: This article originally misstated the name of Fallon Smart’s mother. Her name is Fawn Lengvenis, not Fawn Fallon. We regret the error.

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Fallon Smart’s death, a heart-wrenching reality check, has sparked protests and support

Fallon Smart’s death, a heart-wrenching reality check, has sparked protests and support

Hawthorne and 43rd-2.jpg

Fallon Smart’s family and friends, concerned members of our community and transportation reform activists have left their mark on the intersection at SE Hawthorne and 43rd.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The death of Fallon Smart has torn our community apart. A potent mixture of how she was killed (run over by a dangerous man who used his car as a deadly weapon while she legally walked across a street), where she was killed (a stretch of Hawthorne you might see in a tourism brochure), and who she was (by all accounts a bright, giving and creative 15-year-old who attended a nearby high school), has led to multiple protests, heated online debates, an outpouring of support for her grieving family, and a much-needed dose of reality on Portland’s back-patting path to “Vision Zero.”

Whenever someone dies in a traffc collision, it has an impact on the community; but every once in a while a fatality will spark something larger. Smart’s death appears to have done that. But strangely, while citizens and grassroots activists have mobilized, there’s a deafening silence from City Hall.

Fallon Smart

Fallon Smart

The day after Smart was killed, volunteers with BikeLoud PDX spearheaded an occupation of the intersection at 43rd and Hawthorne. They put up signs on traffic poles and in the intersection and some people even stood in the road to make sure the messages got to people driving by. Activists also painted two unsanctioned crosswalks — reacting not just to Smart’s death but to the fact that she was hit in the middle of a seven-block stretch that is notorious for speeding and where there are no marked places to cross.

From reports we read, Smart’s friends and classmates came to the site throughout the day to leave flowers, sing, and just hold the space. Many tears were shed from strangers and those who knew her. All day long people came and went to pay their respects. And it even lasted into the evening.

I wasn’t able to get over there until Saturday night. When I did I was surprised to see two people sitting in chairs adjacent to the new guerilla crosswalk. They weren’t eating or drinking, they were sitting toward the street. Then I realized they were there to act as a sort of citizen police force. Every few minutes one or both of them would suddenly spring out of the chairs while waving their arms and yelling “Slow down!! A girl was killed her yesterday!”

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Catie Griesdorn stood watch at the intersection for over three hours, imploring people to slow down.

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The two people were Brian Burch and Catie Griesdorn. They didn’t know Smart or each other before Saturday.

Burch was there because he heard about it on the news. Now in his 50s, he was born and raised in the neighborhood. Smart’s death hit him especially hard because his own big brother was hit and killed when he was just 10 (and his brother was 14). They were riding bikes together and Burch saw the whole thing happen. He teared up telling me about it. Then I understood why he was jumping into the street yelling at people to slow down. Burch was out on that street all day and well into the night.

Catie Griesdorn is a local school teacher (formerly at Sunnyside a few blocks away and not at Arleta). She’s not a traffic safety activist and had no personal connection to what happen Friday night. She just happened to be in the area and felt compelled to be there. It seemed like she was doing this as a penance, letting the emotion and sadness of what happened wash over her so that she would be a better person on the other side. “I’m a driver. I need this.” she said. As I talked to her, I realized that she was also there to try and build a connection where one was so violently and tragically broken. She stayed at that intersection for over three hours before going home just before midnight.

Employees from Ranger Station, a cafe on the corner that closed it doors after the collision to provide a space for the Smart family to grieve (they were with her when it happened), also came out to talk with us. They fully supported the guerilla crosswalks and loved the citizen patrol of Burch and Griesdorn. They told us people always drive dangerously and speed on this stretch of Hawthorne. One employee even offered to give us eggs to throw at people who were driving too fast.

The connection Smart had to those who knew her is clearly evident in the outpouring of support for her family. A fundraising site set up for funeral expenses has raised nearly $38,000 in just two days.

While her family and friends go through unfathomable pain, activists are expressing theirs through demonstrations and more protests. On Friday (8/26) two volunteer activists have organized, “We demand safe streets – A call to action,” an event and ride that will be a show of solidarity and remembrance. Here’s more from the organizers:

“This is another senseless and completely preventable death here on our streets. Our city doesn’t seem to have any plan other than talk of ‘Goal Zero’. Let’s challenge them to do better, lets create ways as a community in which we can make our own roads safe for us once again…. We can make our voices heard by showing up in mass. let’s not be silent anymore.”

The ride will begin at City Hall and will visit 43rd and Hawthorne where they will lay down a crosswalk made of flowers (bring some if you can).

The stop at City Hall is important because we haven’t heard much yet about this tragedy from the people who work there. It doesn’t appear that Mayor Charlie Hales or three of the other five city council members have publicly acknowledged Smart’s death. Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick has offered condolences.

Despite this lack of official recognition, most Portlanders won’t soon forget what happened to Fallon Smart. Her death — on a day when Portland was touting its leadership in “open streets” at an international conference — has forced us to acknowledge the vast gap between what we say we want and what reality provides for us.

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Read more about Fallon Smart via The Oregonian.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Speeding driver kills teenage girl who was crossing SE Hawthorne

Speeding driver kills teenage girl who was crossing SE Hawthorne

Hawthorne Blvd approaching 43rd.

Hawthorne Blvd approaching 43rd.

Yesterday afternoon a man was driving his Lexus SUV recklessly down SE Hawthorne Blvd and his behavior led him to strike and kill a teenage girl. First responders were unable to revive her and she died on the scene as her family grieved just feet away from her.

The man, 20-year-old Abdulrahman Noorah — who was driving with a suspended license — originally fled the scene of his crime and later returned. He has been arrested by the Portland Police Bureau and has been charged with Manslaughter II, Felony Failure to Perform the Duties of a Driver (hit and run) and Reckless Driving.

The crash happened at the intersection of SE Hawthorne and 43rd at about 3:50 pm. Here are the details via the police:

…Noorah was traveling westbound on S.E. Hawthorne at approximately 55 to 60 mile per hour from S.E. 46th. The vehicle, a gold Lexus, approached S.E. 43rd ave. was rapidly passing vehicles while traveling in the center lane and nearly colliding with several vehicles near S.E. 44th.

At the northeast corner of S.E. 43rd ave and Hawthorne the victim, a juvenile female teenager, began crossing S.E. Hawthorne headed southbound in an unmarked crosswalk. As she crossed the victim was struck by Noorah. Witnesses stated the vehicle continued westbound at a high rate of speed, after colliding with the victim, and made no attempt to stop.

This girl is the 29th 30th person who has died on Portland’s streets this year.

It happened while Portland city planners and staff were touting our streets at an international conference at Portland State University. The police had to pull officers from two safety-related events they were working on — a bike safety fiesta in north Portland and a crosswalk enforcement action on NW 23rd.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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Crunching numbers: A closer look at Portland’s road fatality rates

Crunching numbers: A closer look at Portland’s road fatality rates

1996-2015 Portland traffic fatalities

Portland traffic fatalities, 1996-2015

The past few weeks have been especially bad in terms of road fatalities in Portland. Within nine days between July 30th and August 8th we had four fatalities, which prompted me to run the numbers- so by the time you’re reading this, they have gone up.

For the year to date as of August 9, we’ve had 28 fatalities. I took PBOT’s fatality data and crunched some numbers:

Portland traffic fatalities, 1999-2015

Portland traffic fatalities, 1999-2015 with trendline

In the past 20 years our fatalities have ranged between 20 and 59 per year; the 59 in 1996 is an outlier (2.5 standard deviations away, in fact), and the following two years are high. From here on I’ll begin analysis at 1999, as the previous three years skew the trend terribly. So, since 1999 there has only been two years at or above 40: 2002 at 40 and 2003 at 47; the average fatalities are about 33 per year.

As of 8/8 we are 221 days into the year. That means we’re averaging nearly one fatality a week. To put it another way, we’re 60% of the way through 2016 and have 76% of last year’s fatalities; we also have 100% of the fatalities of 2014. If the current trend holds, based on the days remaining we’ll end up with about 46 fatalities, the second-deadliest since 1999.

Instead of assuming the rate is constant through the year and instead scale it by the rate of fatalities we had last year, we’re on track for 52 fatalities (last year, by 8/8, we had 20 of 37 fatalities).

While the trendline (linear regression) points down, it’s notable that we are above average in both 2015 and most likely again in 2016.

Histogram of fatalities, 1999-2015

Statistical footnote: I’m assuming a normal distribution of the data and generally using basic linear approximations. If you disagree, copy the spreadsheet and show your calculations. I can’t really make it easier to accommodate reanalysis than that. You’ll see that σ at 9 (and 6.3 post-1998) is fairly reasonable for the datapoints given. The R2 value of 0.06 for the post-1998 linear regression is surprisingly strong indeterminate.

Crunching these numbers is a grim task and it’s not our intent to stoke fear in anyone. But if we truly want to tackle Vision Zero we have to look in the mirror and be accountable for what we see.

Edit: on August 19, we had our 30th fatality. The lower bound of my estimate goes from 46.4 to 47.5.

– Ted Timmons, @tedder42

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From the scene of tragedy: A dispatch from 82nd and Flavel

From the scene of tragedy: A dispatch from 82nd and Flavel

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A friend of Lydia Johnson’s pays her respects at the corner of Flavel and 82nd in Southeast Portland.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

I spent the morning at Southeast 82nd and Flavel, where just 48 hours earlier 25-year-old Lydia Johnson was killed in a traffic collision while riding her bike.

On Saturday morning Johnson was riding eastbound on Flavel Street, perhaps on her way to the Springwater Corridor just a few blocks away. As she approached 82nd Avenue she was involved in a collision with what police describe as a “box truck.” From the police statement so far, both Johnson and the truck driver Joel Silva where going in the same direction. When Silva steered his truck right (south on 82nd) he came in contact with Johnson and her bike.

Judging from the markings I saw on 82nd today Silva’s truck stopped about 50 feet east of Flavel.

Here are a few more photos from the intersection…

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On Flavel going eastbound toward 82nd.

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Looking back at the bike lane from the other side of the street.
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Another view of the bike lane Johnson was riding in.
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This is the corner (on the left) where the collision occurred.

It appears to be a classic right-hook although we don’t yet know any other details such as whether the light was green or red or where either of the vehicles where prior to the collision. Those details likely won’t be made available until after the Multnomah County District Attorney’s office has completed their investigation of the case. As is standard practice, the police have given the case to the DA to determine whether or not Silva bears any criminal responsibility.

This section of Flavel is a 35 30 mph zone and according to City of Portland traffic data (from before neighbors rallied to get the speed limit reduced from 35 to 30) the average person goes about 38 mph and about 37 percent of all auto users go over the speed limit. Flavel as it crosses 82nd is classified as a neighborhood collector street and has moderate traffic.

Here’s video of Flavel with 82nd in the background:

While it’s nowhere near streets like Powell or Division in terms of traffic volume or sheer size, Flavel and 82nd is definitely still a very auto-centric place. Three of the four corners at the intersection have two very wide driveways. There are two mini-marts, a bar, and a Mexican food restaurant (which is really good by the way).

Flavel has three standard vehicle lanes west of 82nd — two for through travel and one left-turn only lane. It also has bike lanes striped on both sides. The eastbound bike lane — where Johnson was likely riding or stopped — is very narrow. It can’t be more than three or four feet wide.

Of the two dozen or so people I saw on bikes in the two hours I watched the intersection this morning, only two or three of them were in the roadway. Even though Flavel is listed as the bike street in this area, and the entrance to the Springwater Corridor bike path is just a few blocks east, almost everyone bikes on the sidewalk.

We know how dangerous the roads are in east Portland – especially on and around 82nd Avenue. That’s why the city has designated it as one of their 10 “High Crash Corridors,” and the Portland Bureau of Transportation launched its Vision Zero Task Force just a few miles north of where Johnson died. At a PBOT crosswalk enforcement action held this past April five blocks north of here at SE Cooper Street, the police handed out 36 citations and eight warnings in just a few hours.

Even with this knowledge and with all our wisdom and rhetoric about how to make streets safer, here we are. Another tragic loss of life. And another right-hook. And another truck making a turning movement. I’ve been reporting on this type of collision for a decade now. I’m not sure what else can be said.

This isn’t a technical problem, this is a cultural problem.

This isn’t just a tragedy for people who knew and loved Lydia Johnson. This is a tragedy for all of us.

I’ve been emailing with some of Johnson’s friends today. They’re connecting with her family to make memorial plans and they’ve just placed a ghost bike for her on the corner.

She was only 25.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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A woman has died while bicycling on SE 82nd at Flavel -UPDATED

A woman has died while bicycling on SE 82nd at Flavel -UPDATED

Intersection of 82nd and Flavel.

Intersection of 82nd and Flavel.

UPDATE, 9:45 am on August 1st: Police have identified the woman as 25-year-old Lydia Anne Johnson. See end of post for details on how the crash happened.

A woman died this morning as the result of a traffic collision in southeast Portland.

According to the Portland Police Bureau, it happened around 8:00 am this morning at the intersection of SE 82nd and Flavel.

Here’s a snip from the official police statement:

Officers and medical personnel arrived and located the adult female bicycle rider who was critically injured. Life-saving efforts were not successful and she died at the scene.

The adult male driver in a box truck remained at the scene and has been cooperating with investigators.

The Traffic Division’s Major Crash Team is responding to conduct an investigation.

The location is just a few blocks north of the Springwater Corridor path. Here’s an aerial view of the intersection:


When the City of Portland launched their Vision Zero initiative in August 2015, they chose a location on 82nd (at Division) just just 2.5 miles north of where this fatality occurred.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation Vision Zero crash map, between 2005 and 2014 there have been two fatalities (one biking, one walking) and eight serious injuries (six people in cars, two people on foot) on this section of 82nd (between SE Lambert and SE Ogden).

While specific details haven’t been released, the location of this crash is sure to re-ignite the frustration of Portlanders who want to tame these big and fast arterials. Vivian Satterfield, deputy director of the nonprofit OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon just posted her feelings to her personal Twitter account:

This is the third fatal crash involving a bicycle rider in Portland this year.

If you have information about this collision or about this intersection in general, please share in the comments or get in touch with us directly at (503) 706-8804.

Stay tuned as more details are released.


The woman killed on Saturday morning was identified as 25-year-old Lydia Ann Johnson. She died of injuries suffered in the crash.

The driver, 36-year-old Joel Silva, cooperated with investigators and did not show any signs of impairment.

Investigators determined that Silva and Johnson were traveling eastbound on Flavel Street when Silva turned right to southbound on 82nd Avenue and struck Johnson on her bicycle.

As is standard procedure, the case will be presented to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office for a review and consideration of any possible criminal charges, once the investigation is complete. Any possible traffic citations would be issued upon completion of the criminal review of the case.

Anyone with information about this incident should contact Officer David Enz at 503-823-2208,

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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