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The latest on two separate injury bicycle crashes in North Portland

The latest on two separate injury bicycle crashes in North Portland

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Brian Duncan was seriously injured while trying to cross Rosa Parks at Delaware last night. This is the view looking westbound just before the intersection.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Since Sunday night we’ve been following two crashes that involve people who were riding bicycles in north Portland. The first happened late Sunday night (3/27) at North Lombard and Jordan Avenue. The most recent one happened just last night on North Rosa Parks Way at Delaware. Here’s the latest information we have on both of them…

Several readers contacted us Sunday night after seeing a posting on Nextdoor about a hit-and-run just after 10:00 pm near Darcy’s Cafe on Lombard (map). People were posting about a man that was hit and seriously injured by someone driving a blue Honda who then “backed up and sped away from the scene.” However, according to Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson, that might not be what happened.

Simpson confirmed with us today that there was indeed a man who was biking and had been injured when officers arrived. He was ultimately transported to the hospital with “non-life-threatening injuries to his hands and a cheek.” How he got that way is unknown at this time. Simpson says officers who talked to people in the area could not confirm he was hit by anyone and that he appeared to have fallen on his own. “Officers noted that the bicycle rider smelled strongly of alcoholic beverage and had slurred speech,” Simpson wrote in an email to BikePortland. “Several people in the area said that they did not see him hit by anyone, only that he was down on the ground. His bicycle did not have any damage consistent with being hit by a driver. The bicycle rider, 48-year-old Timothy Malone, said he’d been drinking at a bar and didn’t remember anything else.”

“Based on the investigation,” Simpson wrote, “officers do not believe he was hit by a driver and that he likely crashed due to his intoxication.”

Lombard in this section is a state highway (30) that has five lanes: two auto parking lanes, two standard lanes and a center turn lane. Here’s the streetview looking toward Jordan:

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View eastbound on Lombard at Jordan.







The other crash happened last night at around 7:20 pm in the intersection of Rosa Parks and Delaware (map). Police say 36-year-old Brian Duncan of North Portland was crossing N Delaware in the crosswalk and with a green light when he was struck. The person who drove their car into him is 84-year-old Louis Hellbusch, also of North Portland. Here’s the official statement from police:

“Officers learned that Hellbusch was driving a white 2005 Mercury Marquis westbound on North Rosa Parks Way approaching Delaware Avenue and a red light. Hellbusch continued driving and failed to stop for the red light, striking Duncan in the crosswalk.”

As is standard practice, the police did not issue any citations or make an arrest at the scene because the investigation is ongoing and the case is in the hands of the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Once the DA has determined whether or not there is any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Hellbusch, they will return the case to the police so they can decide whether or not to cite. We are also in touch with Duncan’s brother-in-law who says he’s in stable condition “but his injuries are severe.”

Rosa Parks in this location has seven lanes: two parking lanes, two bike lanes, two standard lanes and a center turn lane. It’s a major east-west thoroughfare in the area for both cycling and driving. The intersection with Delaware is very well-marked because it’s in a school zone. There are signals, zebra-striped crosswalks, and caution signage prior to the intersection. I visited the site this morning to take a closer look. Below is the view Duncan would have had, looking southbound on Delaware at Rosa Parks:

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Southbound on Delaware at Rosa Parks, the direction Duncan was traveling prior to the collision.

Pieces of Mr. Hellbusch’s grill are still littering the roadway in the northwest corner of the intersection:

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Stay tuned for any further updates.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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New Seasons customers visit new store — and park their cars in state’s new bike lane – UPDATED

New Seasons customers visit new store — and park their cars in state’s new bike lane – UPDATED

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Photos of cars parked in the bike lane in front of New Seasons on Lombard.
(Photos: ODOT)

A new grocery store opened in North Portland’s University Park neighborhood today. Unfortunately customers who arrived by bike saw their new bike lanes full of cars.

Late last fall the Oregon Department of Transportation striped new bike lanes on North Lombard, a rarity for a state highway. ODOT told us at the time that the major catalyst for the project was the new New Seasons Market that opened today at the corner of Lombard and Westanna. Officials felt the new market would attract a lot of traffic and many people would bike there (New Seasons has an excellent reputation as a place that welcomes bike riders). With no dedicated biking space on Lombard they feared conditions would be unsafe without a bike lane.

Turns out that, so far at least, it’s unsafe with a bike lane.

Based on a report and photos we’ve received from ODOT, it appears that many people think the bike lane is a parking lane. Either they are ignorant of the bike lane or they just plain don’t care that parking on one is dangerous, rude, and illegal.






This isn’t the first time New Seasons customers have parked in bike lanes. In 2011 we reported that people parked in the bike lanes on North Rosa Parks Way while shopping at the Arbor Lodge neighborhood store.

There are several things that could be done to avoid this. A more robust bikeway design with some sort of protective barrier would keep people from parking in it. So too might additional signage and/or more generous pavement markings. New Seasons can also educate their customers inside the store. I’m sure they use their in-store PA system to warn people who have left their lights on or who are blocking one of their food delivery trucks — perhaps they could also do the same to people who are blocking the bike lane. In Portland, that might result in enough shame and embarrassment to really change behavior.

As for ODOT, one of their staffers told us today that right now they just want to spread the word about the problem while they work to get some parking enforcement out on the street.

UPDATE, 3/24 at 12:00 pm: New Seasons spokeswoman Claudia Knotek called us and made the following statement via voicemail:

“We had no idea that this was going to be an issue. We should have known that the way the signage is presented it could be confusing for customers who don’t konw at what point the bike lane starts.

We are in contact with the city right now to see how fast we can get additional signage – whether it’s on the road itself showing another bike or signage on the side. In the meantime, New Seasons Market will go ahead and have signs made that we can post along there informing shoppers that this is indeed a bike lane and they cannot park there.

We really appreciated your help [getting the word out]. We are sorry this has happened and will make every effort to rectify it as soon as possible.”

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post New Seasons customers visit new store — and park their cars in state’s new bike lane – UPDATED appeared first on BikePortland.org.

The trouble with Lombard: Why ODOT’s road is dangerous by design

The trouble with Lombard: Why ODOT’s road is dangerous by design

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Where the bike lane ends on Lombard under 42nd Avenue.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

For years now, whenever I drive on Lombard where it goes under 42nd Avenue, I’ll shake my head and mumble angrily to myself. “So disrespectful… Makes me sick they can just drop a bike lane like that… Look how dangerous that is!… Grrrr…” My poor family just rolls their eyes in a “There goes dad again” type of a way.

When Martin Greenough died after being hit from behind while biking in this exact location, I felt a strange combination of sadness, anger, frustration and validation. We’ve reported on this location twice in the past. Once in 2013 and again — amazingly — just one day before his death.

I had never ridden this particular stretch of Lombard, so I felt a need to get out there myself to take a closer look. Here’s what I saw…

I rolled onto Lombard around NE 29th and hung a right (east) toward 42nd. Lombard has a curbside bike lane in this section. Unfortunately a car was parked in it and I was forced into the adjacent lanes where people in cars and large trucks flew by at five times my speed:

NE Lombard at 42nd -1.jpg

Approaching the 33rd Avenue overpass there’s a curbside parking lane in addition to the bike lane. As you can see from the faded paint and gravel, this isn’t a bikeway that the Oregon Department of Transportation takes very seriously:

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It’s too bad, because Lombard is wide enough to make a protected bike lane that could connect thousands of people and several neighborhoods and destinations:

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Plenty of room to create a protected bike lane.

As I got closer to 42nd, there was yet another dangerous spot. The exit to 42nd is a very lax angle which allows people to carry a lot of speed into it. And there’s little to no warning about the possible presence of a bike lane user:

NE Lombard at 42nd -5.jpg


Then I arrived at the place where Martin took his last few pedal strokes. The only indication to road users that anything might merit caution was this sign:

NE Lombard at 42nd -7.jpg

That sign does nothing to build confidence for people on bikes and it does nothing to alter the behavior of people in cars. I have raced bikes (off and on) for over 20 years and I’m an extremely confident urban rider; but even I felt it would be irresponsible to my family if I rode in that gap. So I parked my bike and walked.

I noticed that not only do the bike lanes go away, the road itself shifts north a bit. It’s a very dangerous combination:

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NE Lombard at 42nd -9.jpg

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I noticed that many other people avoid the gap by hopping up the curb and walking or riding behind the guardrail, under the overpass, and then re-join the bike lane on the other side. I could see tire tracks in the dirt and there’s plenty of room to make that maneuver (and plenty of room for ODOT to formalize this path):

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Here’s a look at the eastbound lane and the dirt path next to it from above:

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As I stood under the bridge my blood really started to boil. How could they?! How could ODOT think it’s OK to throw bicycle riders to the wolves like this?

NE Lombard at 42nd -13.jpg

After taking some measurements of the lanes (for reference and for future stories), I crossed Lombard to check out the westbound direction. It’s pretty much the exact same situation. The bike lane ends and there’s nowhere to ride.

A few things become clear after you spend time at this location. First you realize how deadly this road is: Not just for people on bikes and foot, but for everyone who uses it. Second, it becomes very apparent that ODOT does not respect bicycle users at all on this section of Lombard and/or they simply assume no one on a bike uses it.

Speaking of which, when I left the area and rode up the 42nd Avenue ramp from Lombard (which is the way you’d go to avoid the gap if you were heading east), I suddenly faced this huge clump of blackberry bushes, vines and leaves in my lane. The only way around was to — once again — merge into the adjacent lane where people were traveling in cars at much higher speeds and were given no warning that I might be there.

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ODOT needs to fix this gap and clean up their act on Lombard near 42nd. Something needs to happen immediately. This is an open wound for our community and it’s a public safety hazard. I hope ODOT and its Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer take this seriously. We plan to keep reporting about it until they do.

Next up, we’ll take a look at some of the ways ODOT could make this section of Lombard safer.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post The trouble with Lombard: Why ODOT’s road is dangerous by design appeared first on BikePortland.org.

ODOT ‘saddened’ by Martin Greenough’s death, considering road diet

ODOT ‘saddened’ by Martin Greenough’s death, considering road diet

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We’ve just received a response from the Oregon Department of Transportation in response to the crash Saturday night that killed Martin Greenough.

Here’s their full statement:

We are saddened by the tragic loss of a bicyclist on North Lombard Street Saturday night. Every driver has the responsibility to protect other road users by not getting behind the wheel impaired or distracted. We look forward to reviewing the findings from the crash investigation to better understand the causes of this tragic event.

ODOT makes safety improvements based on what will have the biggest and best impact on public safety. Recently, we have been at work on developing a long range plan to improve safety on Lombard and have, in fact, identified potential funding for implementing a road diet on a portion of Lombard in the current STIP update.

In addition, ODOT is currently working with our Area Commission on Transportation to allocate an additional $11 million in funding for bike, pedestrian and transit projects during the 2019-2021 STIP update. Now is the time to let ODOT know what projects are most important to implement with this limited and important funding source. People can comment at http://www.odotr1stip.org/explore-by-program/enhance/


It’s unclear why ODOT mentions a project on Lombard that isn’t near the crash location.

In a phone conversation today, ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton said the agency is currently crunching the traffic numbers on Lombard to analyze possible solutions.

Speaking about the history of the 42nd Avenue overpass and construction of Lombard/Highway 30, Hamilton said a lot has changed since then. “We have much greater needs than we did when the infrastructure was designed.”

The key debate about how to fix Lombard at 42nd will center around two things: Whether to reallocate the existing roadway in order to fit a bike lane on it (the “road diet” option), or to create a bike path around the bridge supports on each side of the existing roadway. The former would be potentially much cheaper and quicker, while the latter would likely take longer to become a reality. (Also consider that the road diet option would have to come with other ways of calming traffic/reducing speeds in the corridor.)

It’s still early in these conversations (“This is under study now, we don’t have the answers yet,” Hamilton told me today), but given the tragedy of Martin Greenough’s death and the context of how and when it occurred, ODOT is under a lot of public pressure to do something, anything, to show that they are serious about safety when doing so isn’t easy.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


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Lombard fatality update: Blame, a vigil, and an apology

Lombard fatality update: Blame, a vigil, and an apology

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NE Lombard and 42nd.

Martin Greenough is the name of the man who was killed while riding his bike on NE Lombard on Saturday night. He was 38 years old.

Here are some updates on the case as we continue to follow the story and report on its impacts…

The man driving the car that struck Greenough, 26-year-old Kenneth Smith Jr., was in court yesterday to face multiple charges in the incident including Manslaughter in the Second Degree, Criminally Negligent Homicide, Reckless Driving, and Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (Marijuana). KATU-TV was at the Justice Center and provided some important new details about Smith’s family and the crash itself.

According to KATU, Smith’s wife spoke on his behalf at the hearing, saying that he’s “An awesome person and he’s a great father to all three of these kids.” She pleaded for leniency and said the crash was an accident and that Smith had no idea what he’d done.

Smith has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on $250,000 bail.

KATU has also reported that Smith’s father is blaming the bike lane design as being “partly responsible for the crash.”

This is the first blame on the road design we’ve seen from either party of the crash. So far, no one from Greenough’s family has come forward. (The Portland Police say they live out of state and we can’t find any information about him online.) Interestingly, this comes out the same day The Oregonian is reporting that the City of Portland will offer a surviving victim of a 2012 fatal collision a settlement of $325,000. The victim in that case was suing Portland for negligent road design.


On that note, the KATU story says that “ODOT wasn’t aware of the interrupted bike lane until it got a complaint about it through the “orcycle” app.” Just to clarify, that’s not true. As we reported the day before Greenough was killed, an ODOT staffer replied to a citizen complaint about the bike lane gap at 42nd Avenue by saying, “Thank you for bringing this bike lane gap to our attention. This section of Lombard was not previously coded as a gap in our bicycle facility inventory.”

Not having the gap coded in a bike facility inventory is very different than not being aware the gap exists. ODOT owns and manages the road. They have signs pointing out that the gaps exist. They made the decision to drop the bike lanes.

Speaking of how dangerous that stretch of Lombard is, noted local activist and volunteer with BikeLoudPDX Terry Dublinski-Milton says ODOT should declare a “safety emergency” in order to get funding in place to build a path around the existing gap by this summer.

Livable Streets Action, a BikeLoudPDX affiliate group, says they will host a candlelight vigil for all victims of traffic violence this Thursday (12/17) from 4:30 – 5:30 pm in front of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters in downtown Portland (123 NW Flanders St). They’re encouraging people to wear black clothing and bring extra shoes that will be placed in the road to represent victims. Saying that ODOT has, “consistently resisted safety improvements,” the group wants the state legislature to transfer Lombard (and other state highways) to the City of Portland and prioritize funding for immediate safety upgrades.

So far this year 406 people have died while using Oregon roads, that’s up about 24 percent over last year.

Anger and frustration at ODOT has been building for years among people who ride bikes in our region (with both legislators and activists calling for its director Matt Garrett to be fired). There’s a feeling in the communty (a very reasonable one, given their actions (or lack thereof) and the crash statistics on their roads) that the agency simply doesn’t care about the people who use their roads.

What we sometimes forget when venting at a huge public agency is that it’s made up of individual people — most of whom are trying to do their best and who might be just as frustrated about the pace of change as we are.

Last night Jessica Horning posted this to her personal Twitter account:

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I'm sorry, Martin. https://t.co/KPmyfhwWK2

— Jessica Horning (@jessica_horning) December 15, 2015

By day, Horning is the ODOT Region 1 Active Transportation Liaison.

Stay tuned. Up next we’ll have a statement from ODOT about Saturday’s crash.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org


The post Lombard fatality update: Blame, a vigil, and an apology appeared first on BikePortland.org.