This week the family of deceased cyclist Martin Lee Greenough settled their case against the City of Portland and the State of Oregon for the lack of a bike lane on a 200-foot stretch of Northeast Lombard Street where the cyclist was killed. The lawsuit claimed that the Oregon Department of Transportation and the City of Portland failed to improve the road for cyclists, despite allegedly knowing of the problem for at least a year before Greenough’s death. The case sought $3.6 million from the city and state, but settled for $23,000.
On Dec. 12, 2015, Martin Lee Greenough was riding his bike home from work slightly after 8:30 p.m. when he was struck by a driver who was driving under the influence of medical marijuana and speeding. The accident occurred on Northeast Lombard Street at a “pinch point” where the bike lane suddenly disappeared under the 42nd Avenue overpass.
The driver, Kenneth Britt Smith, fled the scene but was arrested eight minutes later and three miles away. Greenough was wearing a helmet and had a rear flashing bike light but died at the scene.
As a result of Greenough’s death, the project to build a bike lane on Northeast Lombard Street moved up on the Oregon Department of Transportation’s priority list. A 6-foot-wide and 450-foot-long bike lane is scheduled to be built in the area where the accident occurred by the end of the spring. The new lane will include a barrier for cyclists to ride behind at the pinch point where Greenough was struck.
Excavation for a bike lane on the eastbound side of Northeast Lombard Street has already begun. An ODOT spokesperson told The Oregonian that there are many instances of pinch points for cyclists in part because the roads were designed before there was such heavy bike traffic.
The family of Martin Lee Greenough is continuing their litigation against Smith. Smith pled guilty to driving under the influence of intoxicants, second-degree manslaughter and hit-and-run driving. Smith told the police that he had smoked marijuana six and a half hours before the accident. He was sentenced to just over six years in prison and had his driver’s license permanently revoked.
According to previous reporting by The Oregonian, the authorities stated that Smith was traveling around 45 miles per hour when he struck Greenough from behind. Smith stated that he veered to the right to avoid hitting another car when he collided with Greenough. As a result of the impact, the lawsuit claimed that Greenough rolled onto the hood of Smith’s car and was propelled 145 feet before landing on the pavement.
Following Greenough’s death, ODOT released a statement that “every driver has the responsibility to protect other road users by not getting behind the wheel impaired or distracted”.