Marginal Victims Unit: Two Bike Commuters Killed By Tourist Charter Buses During The Same Week In The Same Vicinity.

https://i2.wp.com/images.wisegeek.com/white-coach-bus-on-white-background.jpgExhibit A (dramatization)

Chelsea, Manhattan, New York

The Villager: Bus kills cyclist in Chelsea in Citi Bike’s first fatality

BY JACKSON CHEN | A Brooklyn resident was killed on Mon., June 12, when the Citi Bike he was riding collided with a bus on W. 26th St., between Seventh and Eighth Aves., police said.

Dan Hanegby, a 36-year-old investment banker, was on his way to work at Credit Suisse when he was struck by a charter bus at around 8:15 a.m., according to police. Police said the cyclist swerved to get around a parked van, fell off the bike, collided with a bus that was traveling the same direction, and was run over by its rear tires. Hanegby is the first fatality since Citi Bike’s start four years ago, according to a Citi Bike spokesperson.

Police said Hanegby was brought to Bellevue Hospital Center where he was pronounced dead shortly after. Police said the bus driver stayed on the scene and was not charged. The Daily News identified the Coach USA operator, who passed sobriety tests following the incident, as 52-year-old Dave Lewis from Poughkeepsie.

Christine Berthet, Transportation Planning Committee co-chairperson of Community Board 4, said that W. 26th St. between Seventh and Eighth Aves. — which does not have a bike lane — is often congested with vehicles, adding that buses shouldn’t even be allowed down that street.

“This bus should have never been on that street because this is not a truck route,” Berthet said. “Buses go everywhere and trying to control them and get them on the right track is very difficult.”

Chelsea Now: Two Deaths in Under a Week — and Calls for Charter Bus Changes in Chelsea

BY JACKSON CHEN | Another cyclist died after being struck by a charter bus in Chelsea on Sat., June 17, less than a week following a similar incident a few streets south.

At around 1:30 p.m., Michael Mamoukakis, an 80-year-old Chelsea resident, was traveling south on Seventh Ave. when he was struck by a charter bus making a right turn onto W. 29th St., according to police.

Police added that responding officers found Mamoukakis on the ground with “severe body trauma” before he was transported to Bellevue Hospital and declared dead. According to police, the driver remained on the scene and the NYPD’s Collision Investigation Squad was handling the ongoing investigation.

The death of Mamoukakis follows a Mon., June 12 incident where a Brooklyn resident riding a Citi Bike was also killed by a charter bus. Dan Hanegby, a 36-year-old investment banker from Brooklyn Heights, was swerving to avoid a parked van when he collided with a charter bus and was run over by the rear tires, according to police. Hanegby was Citi Bike’s first fatality since its start four years ago.

With similar cases happening just days apart, Councilmember Corey Johnson is rallying for more attention to the issues. On the same day as Mamoukakis’ death, the councilmember released a statement calling for an emergency meeting to include the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT), the NYPD, elected officials, Community Board 4 (CB4), and representatives from charter bus companies operating in Chelsea and West Midtown. According to the councilmember’s chief of staff, Erik Bottcher, the meeting is tentatively scheduled for Mon., June 26.

This is a quite a disturbing coincidence. Yet both drivers of those massive buses were found not at fault.

The first casualty got a lot of notice more for his use of the rideshare provider CitiBike than his horrific and preventable death. But the initial report sounded so minor and trivial and purely put blame on the victim. Apparently, Hanegby was riding east down 26th street when he noticed the obstruction, the illegally double parked van, and naturally swerved around it and a second later wound up crushed by the buses back wheels. Reportedly his decision to look the other way for some reason, like he was distracted by something compelling, cost him his life. The official police report has changed since the initial one and the investigation is fortunately ongoing.

The second casualty, an 80 year old man was heading south towards 29th street when the bus careened into him as it was turning west at the intersection, killing him instantly. The block is also restricted against trucks.

As a career cyclist with some expertise on road usage and etiquette, these buses were driving fast to beat these riders to get ahead of them to avoid being inconvenienced, and were probably breaking the speed limit to do it. The bus driver surely saw Hanegby in his sight because he was already at the middle of the block before he got crushed and certainly Mamokaukis, being 80, could not have been riding that fast at all and the bus driver at 7th avenue must have been making quite a wide turn to get to 29th street, which has a big hotel at the end of the block. It’s possible that because of the difficult turning maneuver steering a giant bus, he did not see him at all, but he surely drove fast enough to run the victim over.

The thing is that because of the humongous amount of tourism in the past decade, which the city in the recent past and present bragged that it is around 5 billion, which makes it a billion short of the total population of Earth, that these buses are given a huge amount of leeway that these two bikers are just considered unfortunate deaths but more like collateral damage for the over-saturation of hotels built in the 5 to 6 block radius from 26th to 30th streets to 6th to 8th avenues. And that area has seen such an influx of massive buses that the city granted the charter industry with their own bus depots on the same spot as the public blue lines. The tourist industry has become a big revenue generator for the city and state economy and it seems too big to fail and to big to regulate safety provisions to curb their recklessness.

Hopefully I am and will be wrong, but the way this city and our current and last administration as willfully and continues to kneel to real estate, and with the gruesome death of a woman cyclist in the East Village a month ago in the bike lane, it doesn’t look that encouraging. The only way justice might be meted out is if one of these charters gets hijacked and is used for a terrorist attack and hits a group of tourists riding rentals or mows down a herd jaywalking in the street heading for Penn Station.

It’s harsh and far-fetched, but the only time action is taken is when someone has to get killed. Which is truly why the deaths of these 2 bike riders and the way it was marginally reported so baffling and distressing.

And also how the charter bus industry glides under the radar of Vision Zero and is not bound by traffic restrictions or violations at all.

 

 

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