TransAlt Calls for Protected Crosstown Bike Routes After Bus Driver Kills Dan Hanegby

Safe streets advocates have for years implored DOT to add east-west Manhattan bike lanes in the area where Hanegby was killed, but the city has failed to act.

The block of W. 26th Street where Dan Hanegby was killed. Photo: Google Maps
The block of W. 26th Street where Dan Hanegby was killed. Photo: Google Maps

DOT inaction on providing Manhattan cyclists with protected crosstown bike routes has claimed another life.

At around 8:15 yesterday morning, a charter bus driver struck and killed 36-year-old Dan Hanegby as he rode a Citi Bike on W. 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues.

hanegby-dan
Dan Hanegby

Details of the crash remain unclear. The Times reported that Hanegby, riding with eastbound traffic, swerved to avoid hitting a double-parked van before the collision, but no other press reports that we’ve seen mention a double-parked driver, and the NYPD public information office could not confirm the Times account.

Though it appears likely the bus driver, who was also eastbound, was passing at an unsafe distance, NYPD and media outlets blamed Hanegby, saying he “lost control” of the bike.

An NYPD press statement read:

A preliminary investigation determined that a 52-year-old operator of a charter bus and the bicyclist were traveling eastbound on 26th street when they collided. The bicyclist fell to the ground which resulted in the rear tires rolling over the bicyclist.

Hanegby, who lived in Brooklyn Heights with his wife and two kids, was an investment banker and a former star tennis player in Israel. He was the first Citi Bike rider killed by a driver since the bike-share system launched in 2013.

The block of W. 26th Street where Hanegby was killed has two lanes for curbside parking but no bike infrastructure. Cyclists and safe streets advocates have for years implored DOT to add crosstown bike lanes in Midtown and Chelsea. Those efforts intensified after a postal worker in a USPS truck killed Marilyn Dershowitz on W. 29th Street in 2011.

In 2015, then-Manhattan borough commissioner Margaret Forgione told Manhattan Community Board 4 that DOT was exploring protected crosstown routes, but cited “large vehicle volumes” as a barrier to implementation. No improvements for east-west cycling have materialized since, despite the addition of north-south protected routes

In a statement, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul White said Hanegby’s death should prompt the city to add bikeways in neighborhoods where motorized traffic is heaviest. “Cyclists aren’t killed when they have infrastructure that meets their needs,” White said. “Since 2013, no cyclists have been killed while traveling within protected bike lanes.”

The design of W. 26th Street speaks to the lack of political will to protect people on bikes from reckless drivers, White told Streetsblog.

“Human life matters more than on-street parking, and yet our streets don’t reflect that,” White said. “We’re still trading human life for parking in 2017, and that needs to stop.”

 

  • nanter

    Living on a street with a crosstown bike lane (90th), I’d far prefer taking the lane than being compelled to ride in the door zone/double parking lane. It’s being confined to a space like that that makes it more likely to have a giant bus try to unsafely pass you. Hard for a bus driver to do that if you’re solidly centered in the main travel lane.

  • JudenChino

    I took the lane on 5th ave in Brooklyn where the bike lane was sharrows than blocked with deliveries. I did this, because I didn’t want to get zoomed/passed by a box panel van. The box panel van, zoomed/buzzed me across the double-yellow anyway, screaming at me, that I was in the middle of the lane. I called his employer.

    But yah, what you’re describing is why I no longer take the Dean St bike lane in the evenings. Wall of cars and then you’re in a door zone bike lane the whole way. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTVHwjdff9g

  • meelar2

    Most bicyclists–especially slower riders–are reluctant to take a lane and block the passage of an entire busful of people. If you’re insisting that people take a lane as the price of getting on a bike, most people just won’t ride, and that’s worse for everyone. Protected infrastructure, using space taken from street parking if necessary, is what’s called for here.

  • Elizabeth F

    I think we need more conversation on how drivers and cyclists are supposed to use and share the cross-town streets. It’s really really sad that people are dying this way: these are one-lane streets where traffic almost never goes very fast. If the bike and truck were side-by-side, why did the biker allow it to happen? One was passing the other, neither of which the biker should have let happen.

  • JudenChino

    In 2015, then-Manhattan borough commissioner Margaret Forgione told Manhattan Community Board 4 that DOT was exploring protected crosstown routes, but cited “large vehicle volumes” as a barrier to implementation

    Shouldn’t lowering vehicle volumes be a fucking goal given the massive congestion? And if lowering volumes in a manner that increases bike/ped safety, isn’t that the ultimate no-brainer.

    This is almost like Livable Streets porn: but if we had an actual urbanist mayor, we’d be discussing how we could compensate garage owners, once we’ve re-purposed the street any such garage faces, to bus/ped/bikes only. Because that’s what this city needs. A long term objective to gets the single occupancy cars and vehicles out of manhattan. Just massive ped/bus/bike blocks. That’s our only way out of this mess. Like, we’ve seen London’s bike superhighways. We’re denser than London! People keep talk about making Broadway peds only. I suggest, making Park Ave, from 19th street to the UES, peds/bus/bikes only.

  • Elizabeth F

    Also… if we are suggesting a different design for streets (Manhattan cross-Streets), what do we want to advocate for? Should we be trying to make “bike streets” that are closed to non-local traffic? Do we want truck regulations enforced better (this was not a truck route, so why was a bus on it)? Are we suggesting protected bike lanes on the streets? Do we want sharrows down the MIDDLE of every street? Do we want different signage?

  • Elizabeth F

    Can we get the data on “large vehicle volumes”? Except for the major cross-town streets, most of them handle very little volume…. between the double-parked trucks, short light cycles, single lane, etc. (Just sit there, watch and count one day, you’ll see what I mean).

  • Elizabeth F

    In Boston, there was at one time a sign saying “bicycles use full lane” over the BU Bridge.

  • Brian Howald

    “Safe streets advocates have for years implored DOT to add east-west Manhattan bike lanes in the area where Hanegby was killed, but the city has failed to act.”

    Sounds like a case to me:
    http://nyc.streetsblog.org/2017/01/05/states-highest-court-holds-nyc-liable-for-injuries-on-streets-without-traffic-calming/

  • Ken Dodd

    This past April I “took the lane” on W3rd st, with the result that the driver behind me first yelled abuse, then nudged my back wheel, then later at an intersection swung a baseball bat out of the window at me and subsequently chased me the wrong way down a one way street and deliberately rear ended me at 40-50mph. I’m still dealing with the consequences of that now. The most pressing traffic need in NYC is for the NYPD to start doing their jobs in identifying and jailing psychopathic drivers so that they’re no longer a threat. Licenses should be pulled, cars confiscated and jail sentences served.

  • nanter

    I agree that we need protected infrastructure. The problem is that calls for crosstown bike lanes won’t be answered with protected lanes. We’ll get door zone striping, which I argue is worse than nothing at all.

  • Claire Brennan

    “Cyclists aren’t killed when they have infrastructure that meets their needs,” White said. “Since 2013, no cyclists have been killed while traveling within protected bike lanes.”

    Is that an old quote from Paul Steeley White? Two months ago, Kelly Hurley was killed in the 1st Ave PBL, a lane that has been championed as a “win” by TA advocates. The only way to truly protect cyclists is to get cars (and DEFINITELY charter buses) off our streets!!

  • Vooch

    precisely

    72nd
    23rd
    14th

    are crosstown streets with little motor traffic. The vast majority of motor vehicles on these streets are either being stored, double parking, or loading.

    It would be trivial to reallocate 2 of 6 motor lanes for Protected Bike Lanes in both directions.

    Cars would still have 75% of the roadway dedicated to their exclusive use. Bikes a mere 25%.

  • They key is “within.” Kelly Hurley was killed at an intersection with a mixing zone that leaves people on bikes dangerously exposed. She’d might be alive today had there been a better design.

  • A cursory look at the 2015 NYS annual average daily traffic (AADT) view (https://gis3.dot.ny.gov/html5viewer/?viewer=tdv) shows that, outside of the major crosstown streets, almost all below 59th Street see less than 10,000 vehicles per day. Given how wide many of these streets are and how light the demand is, I see no reason *not* to add crosstown protected bike lanes.

    Even more damning are the AADT counts for the major crosstown streets, many of which are lower than those of similar streets in the outer boroughs (in my view, a function of the lack of adequate transit in such boroughs); here are the highest AADT values for major crosstown streets (N.B. Counts not available for all streets or parts of streets):

    181: 9,468 (increaes to nearly 52K over Washington Bridge)
    155: 12,816
    145: 17,116
    135: 19,940
    125: 22,579
    116 (UES): 14,259
    106 (UES): 8,525
    96: 21,188
    86: 17,208
    79: 24,630
    72: 27,683
    66: 15,122
    59: 28,576
    57: 24,027
    50: 11,209
    42: 25,566
    34: 23,861
    23: 27,227
    14: 16,331
    Houston: 30,331
    Delancey: 45,397
    Canal: 37,101

    Houston has one of the higher counts among these, and *it has bike lanes!*

    Plenty of room for bus lanes too. Make bus service attractive and some cats just might leave the car at home!

  • Simon Phearson

    Hey, when all you do is putter along on an e-bike on the Hudson Greenway, it’s easy to second-guess what commuters are doing on the cross-town streets, hey?

    As a cyclist, you can’t control when drivers decide they can squeeze by you. You can “take the lane” all you like, but invariably there will come the driver who interprets the half of a lane to your left and the larger parking lane as enough room to pass you by. Put them in a large vehicle like a bus, and their poor decision-making is amplified.

    It’s not clear to me what happened here, but surmising, it seems the cyclist was trying to avoid one driver who was obstructing his path and ran into another driver who was inattentive to road conditions and the cyclist’s presence. It is very easy to imagine this happening along any street where drivers block bike lanes – you can hand signal, you can check over your shoulder, you can think you’re clear, but all of that caution isn’t going to stop some douchebag from ignoring you completely and just plowing down the lane.

  • This is what the exact spot of the crash looked like the end of the day. I filmed this on my walk to the citibike dock at 26th and 8th. This almost feels staged with two cars parked and a charter bus squeezing through but I didn’t even wait to get this shot. This scene is so common. So now you can see exactly how terrible this block is. We need pedestianized streets with no vehicle traffic and at the very least protected lanes with clear right of way lights at every intersection.

    https://twitter.com/jeffnovich/status/874448021043503109

  • ADN

    Lowering motor vehicle volumes on NYC streets should absolutely 100% be the goal. It’s f’ing absurd that this is not even on the radar as a policy objective for city leaders.

  • walks bikes drives

    Any update on eyewitness account?

  • Guy Ross

    I was with you until you asked ‘why did the BIKER allow this to happen’.

    The guy got run over by a 30 ton bus. So apparently he was indeed not allowing it to pass him and he paid with his life.

    Victim blaming is never cool even if it’s framed with a ‘constructive’ hypothetical. Thanks.

  • Guy Ross

    That’s great if you are a 30 year old male cyclist who cruises through the city at 25 mph. However, it dooms any goal of bringing any more than 5% of the population to even consider hoping on a bike.

  • Joe R.

    In my opinion we should bollard off all minor Manhattan cross streets at one end so they can’t be used for through motor traffic. That would effectively restrict access solely to deliveries on that street, or perhaps people living there. Nobody else would have any reason to drive on that street.

    The grid was designed in the 1800s when 1 block represented the distance you could travel in perhaps 30 seconds at horse carriage speeds. With motor vehicles traveling 5 times that fast or more, there’s no reason we need such a fine grid. A motor vehicle can still get to any cross street in question via an avenue. Any passengers would just need to walk (at most) half a long block to reach their final destination. However, most major destinations are on the avenues, so in reality closing off minor cross streets will entail no extra walking at all for most car passengers.

  • Joe R.

    I know I’ve sounded like a broken record repeating over and over how the key to Vision Zero is lowering vehicle volumes. So long as you have large numbers of motor vehicles in proximity with large numbers of cyclists and pedestrians bad things will happen. Maybe half as many bad things will happen if you mimic what Europe does in cities but that’s still far from zero. We need to cut vehicle volumes by at least 75% across the board to start making this city safe for those not in motor vehicles. Pre-Moses volumes of motorists would make this city a lot more pleasant as well.

    A long term objective to gets the single occupancy cars and vehicles out of manhattan. Just massive ped/bus/bike blocks. That’s our only way out of this mess.

    Long term Manhattan should be off-limits to both private autos and for-hire vehicles (with the exception of handicapped transit). We’ve been talking about doing that from before I was born. It’s high time we actually did implement this. If it turns out to be successful, then we should consider having the same restrictions in large parts of the outer boroughs. My livable streets dream is to have at least four of the five boroughs off limits to private cars and for hire vehicles.

  • Joe R.

    I’m usually not one to nitpick on choice of words, but when I see “biker” I tend to think of big, hairy guys with tattoos on motorcycles, not a person riding a bicycle.

  • KeNYC2030

    Last evening Manhattan CB7’s Transportation committee rejected a DOT proposal for a painted crosstown bike lane on 110th St., calling it unsafe and asking for a proposal with more protection for cyclists. DOT seemed open to doing that and they are expected to return in July with a new plan.

  • Simon Phearson

    I’m shocked anyone is expecting the DOT to do its actual job.

  • Rex Rocket

    Note the bus driver slowing down so he doesn’t take anyone’s mirror, which, unlike taking someone’s life, might be a punishable offense.

  • Rex Rocket

    Two lives could have been saved last week with a simple common-sense prohibition: No buses on side streets in Manhattan. Limit all commercial bus traffic to the Avenues and major cross streets. There is reason to have giant empty commercial buses cruising crowded cross streets, especially with bad, poorly-trained drivers.