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Category: Martin Greenough

BikePortland journalism scores two awards in five-state contest

BikePortland journalism scores two awards in five-state contest

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The bike lane gap at NE Lombard at 42nd, where Martin Greenaugh died in December.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

For the first time, BikePortland’s reporting has been chosen by the Society of Professional Journalists as some of the best from small newsrooms in the Northwest.

In the annual awards announced Saturday, Jonathan’s December report about the circumstances around the death of Martin Greenough (“Why would anyone ride on that scary stretch of Lombard?”) took first place for general news reporting in the five-state contest among news organizations with 10 staff members or fewer.

Among the facts that might have been overlooked without Jonathan’s reporting: the fact that Greenough had moved to Portland two weeks before he died and may have been on his very first homeward commute when a man hit him with a car; that he was navigating with the city’s widely distributed bike map; and that the bike lane gap where he died, which we had happened to cover for the second time the day before the collision, is not marked on the city’s map.

In the past few days I’ve noticed a familiar thread of conversation around this tragic crash: Why was Martin even riding on that section of Lombard when everyone knows to avoid it like the plague? Some people, on a website that shall not be named, even go so far as blaming Martin for being in a place not meant for bike riders. …

It’s very likely that he simply opened up the map, saw that Lombard was listed as a bikeway and figured he’d take it to Cully, then up to Alberta. Straight and direct. Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately the bike map doesn’t point out that Lombard is a state highway where people drive 50+ mph. Or that the bike lane is often full of debris and gravel or that people often park their cars in the bike lane, forcing bike riders to contend with fast-moving auto traffic.







Just after Jonathan’s post ran, regional government Metro edited its online bike map to reflect the bike lane gap. Lombard Street, however, has yet to see any changes to a stretch of road we called dangerous by design in a subsequent piece. Three days after the collision, the Oregon Department of Transportation described itself as “saddened” while emphasizing the fact that the driver was allegedly driving while high on marijuana.

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Knock Software founder William Henderson with a matchbox-sized device similar to the one he’s developed that could sell for $50, last for two years and count every bike that passes by.

Also Saturday, a post I wrote in January 2015 about new, radically cheap bike-counting technology from Portland-based Knock Software took second place for business reporting in the five-state SPJ contest.

Titled “This $50 device could change bike planning forever,” the post looked at a clever new concept for using a low-power Bluetooth signal to cut the cost of a bike counter from $5,000 to $50, opening new potential for year-round, 24-hour bike counts in many locations.

Do bikes count?

A three-person Portland startup that hit a jackpot with its first mobile app is plowing profits into a new venture: a cheap, tiny device that could reinvent the science of measuring bike traffic — and help see, for the first time, thousands of people that even the bike-friendliest American cities ignore.

Our post went viral, becoming BikePortland’s most-read post of 2015. Knock got dozens of inquiries from cities around the country interested in the new technology.

In the 18 months since, Knock has concluded that to get counters with sufficient range, it’ll need a shoebox-sized device costing $300 or so rather than a matchbox-sized $50 one. Though that would itself be a big improvement to counting technology, Knock has decided to put that project on ice for the moment while it focuses more on its other project, Ride Report — the mobile app designed to crowdsource bike-route comfort information.

These contests were designed for newspapers, but lot of BikePortland’s work doesn’t fit neatly into the categories that newspapers have developed over the years. Our best narratives play out in multi-post loops and threads rather than 2,000-word packages. That said, we’re proud of our continuing work, which is made possible by our advertisers and our subscribers. It’s an honor to have some of our more traditional journalism pieces recognized by our peers as some of the best in the Northwest.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post BikePortland journalism scores two awards in five-state contest appeared first on BikePortland.org.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Martin Greenough ghost bike in front of ODOT HQ

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







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Greenough was hit in this gap of Lombard under NE 42nd.
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Specifically, the lawsuit seeks up to $2 million from ODOT because the agency allegedly did not follow its own administrative rule that governs the signage and marking of bicycle lanes and paths (OAR 734-020-0060). For PBOT, the lawsuit asks for a maximum of $682,000 for negligence due to the city’s failure to abide by its own rules for defining bicycling lanes with pavement markings.

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

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

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

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

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

Our work is supported by subscribers. Please become one today.

The post City, state sued for unsafe road design in death of Martin Greenough appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Martin Greenough died one month ago: Here’s the latest from ODOT, the BTA and his girlfriend

Martin Greenough died one month ago: Here’s the latest from ODOT, the BTA and his girlfriend

Martin Greenough ghost bike in front of ODOT HQ

One month after he died, a ghost bike for Martin Greenough remains locked
to a rack outside ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters in northwest Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One month ago today Martin Greenough died while cycling on NE Lombard at 42nd. Martin was new to our city. In fact, we learned from his housemate that his ride home from work that fateful Saturday evening was very likely the first bike ride he’d ever taken in Portland.

“I am writing to you on behalf of my boyfriend, who died at the NE 42nd and Lombard on Saturday, December 12th and for every other biker who unknowingly chooses to ride in the Lombard bike lane.”
— Melissa Logan, in an email to ODOT Region 1 director Rian Windsheimer

In the past month, a lot has changed for the people who loved Martin. That’s actually a vast understatement. Just weeks before the holidays their lives were thrown into a state of shock and grief that most of us will never understand. But have we — a city of dreamers (like Martin), advocates, planners, politicians, engineers, and citizen activists — changed? More importantly, will the street where Martin died change?

Martin’s girlfriend Melissa Logan wants something to change. We’ve been in touch with her as well as the Oregon Department of Transportation and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance to get the latest on what — if anything — might change after this tragedy.

Lombard (a.k.a. Portland Highway) at 42nd is dangerous by design. It’s a road that looks and feels much more like a freeway where people drive dangerously, often going faster than 50 miles per hour. The section of road where Martin was hit is especially bad. He was under an overpass where there’s a gap in the bike lane. We flagged that gap (and others like it) here on BikePortland in 2013 and a woman filed an official complaint about it (describing the gap as “very terrifying”) with the Oregon Department of Transportation three weeks before Martin’s crash.

Today that gap remains and there are no concrete plans to do anything about it even though it’s a glaring public safety hazard that’s still shown as a recommended bike route on thousands of printed cycling maps people use every day.

The top ODOT official in our area is Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer. On December 29th, Martin’s girlfriend Melissa Logan emailed Windsheimer with what she referred to as a “small request.”

“Dear Mr. Windsheimer,” she wrote, “I am writing to you on behalf of my boyfriend; Martin Lee Greenough, who died at the NE 42nd and Lombard on Saturday, December 12th and for every other biker who unknowingly chooses to ride in the Lombard bike lane. I have what I feel is a small request that could potentially save the life of a future rider and I’m hoping you can help make it happen.”


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Blue line shows path that could be used as an alternate route under the overpass.
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Another view showing the space available on the other side of the guardrail from where Martin was hit.

Her request was for ODOT to formalize an unpaved sidepath under the overpass and immediately install a sign encouraging people to use it (instead of the pinch-point bike lane gap). As I pointed out in a previous story, there’s ample space for just such a path behind the guardrail to put a path. And judging from the tire tracks I saw while I was at the site, many people already do this (it’s a classic “desire line” if there ever was one).

“Please know we are reviewing the site and looking for opportunities we can get on the ground quickly.”
— Rian Windsheimer, director of ODOT Region 1

Here’s more from Logan’s email to Windsheimer: “This way every biker would have the option to make a choice about their own safety: instead of putting it into the hands of a driver and a vehicle obeying a 45mph speed limit. I know Martin and I know he would have used the shoulder if he had seen such a sign in time.”

Logan wants the sign installed immediately so it can be “a placeholder while the state and the city figure out what else needs to be done to ensure the safety of those using the Lombard bike lane.”

In addition to the sign and the path around the pinch point, Logan wanted to make sure Windsheimer had visited the crash site. “I believe you’d see the logic behind it if you stood against the guardrail by the bridge where the bike lane ends and witnessed the vehicles going by at an average of 50mph,” she wrote. “I can’t even begin to describe how it felt to see it myself. I’d really appreciate it if you’d visit the site. None of this will make much sense until you do.”

Two days later, on New Year’s Eve, Windsheimer responded:

greenough

Martin Greenough

“Dear Melissa,

I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and thoughts about Lombard at 42nd and ideas for improvements there.

I recently visited the site with my Region Traffic Manager, Maintenance Section Manager, Bicycle and Pedestrian Liaison, and Area Manager so that we could all get a first-hand look at the site. These managers and their staffs are considering what opportunities we may have to improve conditions at the site in the short-term and what longer-term improvement ideas should be considered when funding for a larger scale project in the area becomes available. I’ve forwarded your idea for an additional sign to them for consideration.

I really appreciate you taking to time to reach out and share your ideas for improvements. Please know my staff and I take every crash on our system seriously and are continuously looking for opportunities to improve it.

The exact timing of deployment depends greatly on the types of improvements they come up with, but please know we are reviewing the site and looking for opportunities we can get on the ground quickly.”

Yesterday I asked Windsheimer for any further updates and he gave me the same response with the addition of, “I expect the short-term opportunities the team agrees to move forward to be implemented over the next couple of months as weather allows.”

It’s not clear what those “short-term opportunities” might be; but we plan to keep asking until something materializes.

For their part, the BTA launched an online petition on December 14th. Executive Director Rob Sadowsky told me today they’ve collected just over 60 signatures so far. They plan to deliver the signatures and a formal letter calling for bike lanes on Lombard to Windsheimer this Friday.

Related: The man who struck Martin with his car pleaded not guilty on Monday and is being held in jail on $275,000 bail.

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


The post Martin Greenough died one month ago: Here’s the latest from ODOT, the BTA and his girlfriend 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:

NE Lombard at 42nd -3.jpg

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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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?

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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.

lombard-42ndexit

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.

Metro edits ‘Bike There’ map after man’s death in bike lane gap

Metro edits ‘Bike There’ map after man’s death in bike lane gap

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This dangerous gap in the bike lane on Lombard — where a man was killed on December 12th — is now listed as a caution zone on Metro’s Bike There map.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Maps matter. On December 12th Martin Greenough was killed while biking on a road that looks like a safe bikeway on popular bike maps. While infrastructure can take years to change, maps can be edited quickly. And that’s exactly what is starting to happen.

Metro, our elected regional government and publisher of the Bike There! map, has responded to our reporting on Martin’s death by adding a caution symbol to the bikeway gap where he was killed.

Here’s how the current printed version of the Bike There map looks (the east-west green line is Lombard Ave/Portland Hwy):

martin-map-metro


And here it is with edits just made in the online version of the map (note the red dots and red line on Lombard):

metro-after

Locals know that this section of Lombard is an unforgiving place to ride; but Martin was new to town. He was also a fan of paper maps and his close friends have told us he used a printed bike map to find his route to and from work.

Our story last week explaining why Martin might have chosen to ride through this dangerous gap in the bike lane has brought to light a major shortcoming in the maps many people use to navigate our streets. Maps from the City of Portland and from Metro don’t do enough to differentiate between the safety of different bikeway types.

Until Metro’s actions (which only impact the online version of the map for now), none of our local maps had marked the bike lane gap where Martin died as a caution zone. This is a section of road with a severe pinch-point where people commonly drive 50 mph. I’ve stood where Martin was hit and it made me equal parts afraid and angry…

Metro has made the edit to the online version of their map. Unfortunately the printed map was just updated so it will still be a few years until these changes are reflected.

In an email, Metro’s Craig Beebe said the changes came after the agency realized the “challenging issues of the mismatch between maps, people’s perception, reality on the ground and, of course, the patterns of travel that people have to take every day to get where they’re going.”

Here’s more from Beebe:

“… Your reporting on the city of Portland’s bike map led us to take a look at how that stretch of Lombard was designated on Metro’s Bike There map. We saw that we had marked the entire stretch as having bike lanes. In Metro’s more experience/comfort-based taxonomy we marked this as ‘suitable for experienced riders.’

As a result of this crash, and your reporting, our lead cartographer for Bike There, Matthew Hampton, updated the online version of the Bike There map to mark the bike lane gap and to add a dashed-red line to the entire stretch of Lombard, denoting ‘ride with caution.’”

We haven’t heard yet whether the City of Portland plans to make edits to their maps as well.

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


The post Metro edits ‘Bike There’ map after man’s death in bike lane gap appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool

Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool

elbcomment

If you haven’t read Jonathan’s haunting, exclusive report that Martin Greenough seems to have been killed on his very first bike commute, two weeks after moving to Portland, it’s not one to miss.

Part of the story is that the city’s official bike map inaccurately suggests that Lombard is a fine place to bike. But as BikePortland reader El Biciclero pointed out in a must-read response, the problem here is not really with the map.

The problem is that the only way to bike around Portland without near-death experiences is to use a map.

“‘He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,’ Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.”

This is what rankles me. Martin didn’t study hard enough before attempting to get from A to B on a bike. As a bicyclist, I can’t trust maps, Google, GPS—anything—to point me to a “safe” route. And really, why aren’t all routes “safe”? Why can I expect to drive my car anywhere, traveling any route I want, but if I want to travel by bike, I must study carefully, make trial runs, review video, check maps and street views, cross-referencing multiple sources to see whether the bike lane drops or there is a left turn signal, or a way around that doesn’t involve left turns or two-way stops, find out what the de facto speed is on a street that is signed for 30 mph, hope the shoulder or bike lane is as wide as it looks online and there aren’t huge drainage pits in it and the stripes haven’t worn off since the last time the Google photo car drove by (I have started looking at the “image capture” dates on Google street view to get some notion of whether the picture is still accurate for places I haven’t been). If I don’t do all of the above I could DIE.

If I hop in my car and follow my nose, the worst I can expect is getting lost.

We should never, ever have to ask “why would anyone ride their bike on that route?”

We’ll leave it at that.

Yes, we pay for good comments. This regular feature is sponsored by readers who’ve become BikePortland subscribers to keep our site and our community strong. We’ll be sending $5 and a little goodie bag to El Biciclero in thanks for this great addition. Watch your email!


The post Comment of the Week: A map should not be an important safety tool appeared first on BikePortland.org.

Vigil at ODOT headquarters draws attention to 409 deaths this year

Vigil at ODOT headquarters draws attention to 409 deaths this year

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

The vigil was staged in front of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters on NW Flanders street in downtown Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Over two dozen people stood outside the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Transportation in downtown Portland on Thursday night. As rain pelted their jackets and umbrellas, a collection of activists and friends and families of people that have died while using Oregon roads demanded actions to improve safety.

The event was organized by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX.

Candles were placed on rocks just outside the main entrance of ODOT’s Region 1 headquarters on NW Flanders and 2nd Avenue. A ghost bike was locked to a lamppost. Many of the people who showed up held signs that read “RIP” and had 409 stick figures — one to represent each death on Oregon roads so far this year (a 22 percent increase over last year). One of the signs was taped to the entry door of the building.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

While this vigil was aimed at drawing attention to traffic victims in general, it was also a memorial for Martin Greenough the man who was killed in a hit-and-run on NE Lombard on Saturday night.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Dan Kaufman.

Grabbing the mic as everyone huddled together, Dan Kaufman, a volunteer with several traffic safety groups, said the 22 percent increase in deaths over last year is “unacceptable.” He said poor road design was to blame for most of the carnage and that they were all preventable. “Some might say these deaths are just a part of the system and we have to accept it. We are here today to demand change, and the first place we’re starting with is the agency that’s in charge of the roads,” he said.

Other speakers echoed Kaufman’s focus on road design and a desire to change the culture at ODOT. Chris Anderson, who launched a Vision Zero political action committee last spring, said the only solution is a change at the top. “If you want safer streets,” he told the crowd, “we need to make sure the governor knows that [ODOT Director] Matt Garrett and the rest of ODOT leadership aren’t cutting it and they do not represent Oregon’s interests.”

Specifically, Livable Streets Action is calling for ODOT to transfer jurisdictional oversight of Lombard and other state highways to the City of Portland. They also want ODOT to embrace and implement the Vision Zero approach to traffic safety.

Regardless of what happens at ODOT, Monica Maggio (Martin Greenough’s housemate), said change will only start when we hold ourselves accountable. “And that starts by having a conversation. Have a conversation with somebody you think it’s going to be hard to have that conversation with. We need to get these issues of street safety, bike safety, and car safety on the radar of a lot of pepole. Try to talk to someone every day.”

Activist Joe Rowe said roads should be designed with the expectation that everyone makes mistakes, similar to how air safety is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). “Instead, we design roads for faster trips times, and that’s not vision zero,” he said.

BikeLoudPDX Co-Chair Ted Buehler said the tragedies that brought people together today were the result of, “A long series of decisions made at all levels of government.” “It’s important,” he said, “That from this day forward we look at how we can influence our leaders and let them know this is not acceptable to us and we want these problems fixed. Not just deliberated. Not just politely consider.”

Buehler said the “bicycle constituency” needs representation and he hopes BikeLoudPDX can be the grassroots organization that Portland has been missing for the last 10-15 years.

Here are more photos from the event:

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

This is ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton. He was the only agency staffer who attended the event. Hamilton was asked to addressed the crowd, but declined. He did however, stay and talk to BikeLoudPDX volunteers, Families For Safe Streets leader Kristi Finney, and others.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

ODOT’s Don Hamilton watching the event.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX volunteer Roberta Robles speaking to local TV news media.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.


Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Martin Greenough’s housemate Monica Maggio fought back tears during a brief speech.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX organizer Soren Impey.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

One of Martin Greenough’s co-workers came to offer remembrances and place a bouquet on his ghost bike.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

BikeLoudPDX Co-Chair Ted Buehler.
Put on by Livable Streets Action, an affiliate group of BikeLoudPDX. This vigil was held to remember the 409 people who have died on Oregon roads so far in 2015... and particularly Martin Greenough, who was killed five days ago while biking on NE Lombard.

Chris Anderson of Vision Zero USA and his daughter.

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


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Remembering Martin Greenough

Remembering Martin Greenough

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Martin Greenough in front of Wailua Falls in Kauai.
(From his Facebook page and used by permission from the Greenough family.)

Martin Greenough wasn’t really a Portlander yet; but from what I’ve learned about him in the five days since his death on December 12th, he was someone all of us would have been proud to adopt into our civic family.

There’s been little to nothing about Martin reported in the media. That’s partly because he’d lived here for less than two weeks and he’s not from anywhere around this region. His family is mostly from Pennsylvania. They came to Portland a few days ago after hearing about Saturday night’s crash; but they’ve requested privacy and are not addressing the media. (Note: His family is aware I’m writing this story and they are supportive of it.)

Here’s a statement we received from the family this morning:

“We are extremely saddened with the loss of Martin. He was an amazing person who enjoyed life to the fullest and put a smile on the face of everyone around him. He was deeply loved by his family, and we are grieving our loss and celebrating his life. We would appreciate everyone respecting our privacy at this time as we concentrate on family. Thank you to the cycling community for the support and kind words.”

For the past few days I’ve been trying to learn more about who Martin was. Not because I’m curious, but because it’s important that we, as a city, learn about the victims of traffic crashes in order to create the urgency and compassion needed to do everything we can to make sure there are no more of them in the future.

Martin (his friends called him Marty) was 38 years old. He grew up in the very small, unincorporated town of Big Pond, Pennsylvania with his parents, sister and brother. Big Pond is 2,700 miles east of Portland and just southeast of Lake Erie. The town got its name from nearby Lake Ondawa, a reservoir and popular fishing spot. I’ve never been to that part of the country, but from what I can gather, it’s an outdoor lover’s paradise. To get to Clarion University, where Martin went to college and served as president of the Theta Xi fraternity in 1998, he would have had to drive through two state forests and one national forest.

And judging from the photos on Martin’s Facebook page, he maintained a love for nature well into his adult life.

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(Photo of the Inside Passage in Ketchikan Alaska by Martin Greenough.)

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(Photo off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii by Martin Greenough.)

Perhaps seeking new adventures in new landscapes Martin moved to Ketchikan, Alaska in May of 2014. He then moved to Honolulu, Hawaii five months later.

One the main things that brought Martin to Portland was his desire to get an advanced degree in nutrition. He was taking pre-requisite courses at the Portland campus of Oregon State University and moved here to get his residency.

To help pay for classes, Martin had just gotten a job from MTR Western, a transportation and bus charter company based in Seattle that also operates out of Portland. He was biking home from work when he was hit on Saturday night.

“We felt honored to have him work for us. He seemed very happy and he had stories of adventures to share. He was definitely a part of our family. We are all devastated to hear this news.”
— a co-worker at MTR Western

On Tuesday I received a text from someone at MTR who knew Martin. “He was our new hire,” said the MTR employee. “I was looking forward to getting to know him.” Martin was hired to be one of MTR’s charter bus drivers, which I’ve since learned is similar to jobs he had in Hawaii and Alaska as a driver and tour guide.

“We felt honored to have him work for us,” the employee continued. “He seemed very happy and he had stories of adventures to share. He was definitely a part of our family. We are all devastated to hear this news.”

Martin left a similar impression with Monica Maggio, the owner of the house in the Cully neighborhood that he had just moved into. I called her last night after she emailed wanting to know more about what happened to her newest housemate.

When Monica and her two other housemates found Martin via a Craigslist ad, she said, “We really felt like we hit the jackpot.” She called one of his references, a former employer, and was blown away at the response. “She raved, raved about Martin and how he was so dependable and wonderful to be around. She told me that their drivers would usually get about 10 positive comments from customers each season. He got 100 of them.”

Monica described Martin as a “very sweet, considerate, organized, humble, and thoughtful person.” During one of his first nights at the house, Monica remembers sitting around the kitchen table just talking. “We ended up having a two-hour conversation without even knowing the time had passed.”

“That’s one of the hardest things for us,” she said. “We didn’t know him very well, but everything we did know about him was that he was a very incredible guy. We were looking forward to the dynamic of the household. It was starting to develop into something very lovely.”

For knowing him just under two weeks, Martin seems to have left a strong impression on Monica.

“He was the type of guy that would sing to himself while washing vegetables in the kitchen while listening to ’90s alternative rock music,” Monica recalled. “He was always smiling to himself.”

UPDATE: Last night in the pouring rain there was a candlelight vigil to remember Martin and the hundreds of other Oregonians who have died in traffic crashes so far this year.

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


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Why would anyone ride on that scary stretch of Lombard?

Why would anyone ride on that scary stretch of Lombard?

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Martin Greenough’s commute on the City of Portland bike map.
(Note: The dotted red line (which denotes a high-caution area) near the crash site is for 42nd Avenue, which is on an overpass above Lombard.)

I don’t ride on Lombard. You probably don’t ride on Lombard. Heck, why would anyone ride on Lombard?

It’s a state highway, a freight route, and people drive about 50 mph on average! In many sections — especially around NE 42nd where 38-year-old Martin Greenough was killed on Saturday — Lombard is essentially an urban freeway. Biking is legally allowed, but practically prohibited by design.

“He was just getting to know the city. He might have just wanted to give it a shot and see.”
— Monica Maggio, Martin Greenough’s housemate

But you wouldn’t know that by looking at a city bike map.

In the past few days I’ve noticed a familiar thread of conversation around this tragic crash: Why was Martin even riding on that section of Lombard when everyone knows to avoid it like the plague? Some people, on a website that shall not be named, even go so far as blaming Martin for being in a place not meant for bike riders.

But what if Martin had no idea just how dangerous Lombard was until it was too late?

For the past few days I’ve been trying to track down people who knew Martin. I want to share more about who he is so we can all remember him as something more than just “that bicyclist.” One thing I’ve learned is that he moved to Portland only two weeks ago.

I’ve spoken with one of Martin’s housemates, Monica Maggio, who shared some touching memories of him. I’ll share more of our conversation in a separate post (I’m still waiting/hoping to hear from his family); but one thing she told me was that Martin had just gotten a new job and was riding home from work when he was hit.

“He had just bought his bike… Saturday night might have been the first time he commuted to that location and back,” Monica said.

He very likely had no idea there was a dangerous gap in the bikeway on his way home.

Martin worked around NE 11th and Columbia and he lived near NE Alberta and Cully — a nice bike commute distance of about 3.6 miles with a direct east-west connection via Lombard.

If not for the admonitions from Monica and the other two housemates Martin was living with, he might have tried to get home via Columbia. “But we told him,” Monica said, “Please don’t ride on Columbia. Find another route. Columbia is too fast, too crazy.”

As many of us know, as dangerous as the biking conditions are on Lombard, Columbia is even worse.

So Martin chose Lombard, which was actually the lesser of two evils.


Monica said Martin was using one of the city bike maps of Portland to orient himself and find his route. It’s very likely that he simply opened up the map, saw that Lombard was listed as a bikeway and figured he’d take it to Cully, then up to Alberta. Straight and direct. Easy-peasy.

Unfortunately the bike map doesn’t point out that Lombard is a state highway where people drive 50+ mph. Or that the bike lane is often full of debris and gravel or that people often park their cars in the bike lane, forcing bike riders to contend with fast-moving auto traffic. (Stay tuned for our next post which takes a closer look at the riding conditions in this area.)

And inexplicably, the City of Portland bike map doesn’t list the notorious bike lane gap at 42nd as a caution area (it’s a wonderful map and the city staff who work on it are top-notch quality folks, so I’m sure they’ll address this in the next printing).

On the city bike map, the hostile and dangerous bikeway on Lombard is depicted in the exact same way as the relatively serene and safe bikeway on N Vancouver, or the civilized and respectable, grade-separated cycle tracks on Cully.

In other words, to someone new to town there’d be no reason to avoid Lombard. He wasn’t familiar with the neighborhood sidestreets and his map said Lombard would take him directly to Cully with a bike lane the whole way. And of course, Martin probably realized how bad it was once he got on it. But we’ve all done that. We ride on a street and think, ‘Dang, that was scary, I won’t ride here again.’ But we do. Because we might be in a hurry, or we might not have any other choice. Or, like in Martin’s case, we might simply not know of a safer place to ride.

“He was just getting to know the city,” said Monica. “He might have just wanted to give it a shot and see.”

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


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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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