Michael Mamoukakis, 80, Second Cyclist Killed by Charter Bus Driver in Chelsea in One Week

The driver hit Mamoukakis while turning onto W. 29th Street, where buses are prohibited by city traffic rules. No charges have been filed by NYPD or Manhattan DA Cy Vance.

Seventh Avenue at W. 29th Street, where a bus driver killed Michael Mamoukakis Saturday. Image: Google Maps
Seventh Avenue at W. 29th Street, where a bus driver killed Michael Mamoukakis Saturday. Image: Google Maps

A charter bus driver killed 80-year-old cyclist Michael Mamoukakis in Chelsea on Saturday, the second such fatal crash in less than a week.

Mamoukakis was riding south on Seventh Avenue, with traffic, at around 1:30 in the afternoon when the driver struck him while turning right onto W. 29th Street, NYPD told the Times and other media outlets.

Michael Mamoukakis. Photo via New York Times
Michael Mamoukakis. Photo via New York Times

“The bike, I guess, was in the crosswalk,” the bus driver told the Post:

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” she added.

“I was driving the bus, but when I looked, I didn’t see anybody. When I heard the thump, I didn’t see anything. He was laying over there on he ground, in the crosswalk.”

“I turned around and I saw bus wheels go over a man’s body,” a witness told the Daily News. “It was horrible.”

Mamoukakis, a retired cobbler who according to his family rode his bike regularly, died at Bellevue Hospital.

The bus was registered to Buckeye Limousine and Charters Corporation of Ohio, the Times reported. The driver’s name was not released by NYPD or reported in any media coverage that we’ve seen.

If the crash occurred as NYPD says, Mamoukakis would have had the right of way. Streetsblog has messages in with NYPD and the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance for updates on the case.

There is no bike lane where Mamoukakis was hit. Earlier this year DOT announced a plan to add a protected bikeway to Seventh from 30th Street to Clarkson Street, where thousands of people bike every day.

Last Monday a charter bus driver sideswiped 36-year-old father of two Dan Hanegby on W. 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, knocking him to the street and killing him. That crash prompted a renewed call — from City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez, Transportation Alternatives, and members of the public — for protected bike lanes on crosstown Manhattan streets.

City Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents the district where both crashes occurred, wants to convene “an emergency meeting that includes the NYC DOT, the NYPD, my colleagues in government, Community Board 4 and representatives of charter bus companies that operate in Chelsea and West Midtown,” Gothamist reported.

City traffic code prohibits buses from streets that aren’t designated truck routes, but Manhattan Community Board 4 chair Christine Berthet says non-compliance is common.

Neither W. 29th Street, where the driver who struck Mamoukakis was going, nor W. 26th Street, where Hanegby was killed, are truck routes.

“It’s so prevalent in Midtown,” Berthet told Streetsblog. “It’s a regular occurrence. They [bus companies] know the bus routes. They publish a document that [says] buses should respect the truck routes, so this is very clear.”

Berthet says it’s not realistic to station NYPD officers “at every corner catching buses.” She believes it would be more effective to link route compliance with companies’ ability to do business in NYC.

“The risk of losing their stops or their license would be helpful,” says Berthet, “so that the companies really do proper education and the proper self-enforcement.”

Both Mamoukakis and Hanegby were killed in the 10th Precinct, which responded to Hanegby’s death by ticketing people riding bikes.

With reporting by David Meyer.

  • Reader

    The precinct has blood on its hands.

    After Dan Hanegby died, they blamed him and then ticketed cyclists. We very quickly found out that Hanegby was not at fault and that the bus driver passed him unsafely. The precinct could have responded by ticketing off-route bus drivers to stop another person from being killed. They didn’t. Let’s not mix words: Mamoukakis’ death is their fault.

    Sadly, nothing will change until our feckless mayor decides to give a damn about this.

  • Ken Dodd

    Message from NYPD and Cy Vance to New York drivers: “Don’t even bother looking when you make a turn. As soon as you get that urge to rotate the steering wheel, just do it without a second thought. Even if you’ve just overtaken a cyclist. You might kill someone, but if we don’t care, why should you? Listen, we’ve got enough on our plates what with pot dealers and suchlike. So have at it! We’ll even victim-blame to the media so your feelings aren’t hurt.”

  • Driver

    The problem is not off-route bus or truck drivers. The problem is the way the operators of these heavy vehicles interact with more vulnerable road users, both cyclists and pedestrians. Truck routes are not some magical routes where heavy vehicles are kept separate from other road users. Truck routes are also streets with many cyclists and pedestrians. Many of the Manhattan truck route intersections have much more pedestrian traffic than any of the smaller cross street intersections. The sentiment that keeping buses and trucks on truck routes will prevent deaths does not make sense to me. A careless driver is a threat and a hazard no matter whether the street they are driving on is a truck route or not, and a careful and courteous driver is just that, regardless of whether a particular street is a truck route or not.
    I agree that the typical ticketing cyclists after these tragedies is bullshit, but strictly enforcing truck routes and making dangerous drivers drive longer distances in Manhattan does not make anyone any safer. We need widespread and consistent enforcement of dangerous driving behaviors by operators of motor vehicles.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Right. I read the news articles and assumed that Danegby was passing a stopped bus, which then started moving. In reality he was overtaken from behind.

    If a motor vehicle was struck by another motor vehicle overtaking from behind, there would be no debate as to whom was at fault.

  • CtotheC

    Until existing laws are enforced and drivers are charged with crimes, both of which will be a long time coming, there are only two ways that you can protect yourself when riding without bike lanes: ride on the left in a one way street, and assert your space in a traffic lane.

    Garbage trucks, big rids, and buses, the top killers, usually drive on the right. Avoid them.

    Take up a whole lane so that no one can pass you, and so that you are more visible.

  • Reader

    I absolutely hate when people say, “The only way that you can protect yourself is to just do X.” Plenty of people in this town do everything right and get killed anyway. I have way too many examples to list.

    And new riders will surely get turned off of cycling if they’re told, “Hey, take the lane and try not to think about the angry drivers who will honk at you!”

    We need streets that separate vulnerable people on bikes from big metal cars, buses, and trucks.

  • CtotheC

    I agree with your sentiment, but what are you going to do in the meantime, if streets do not separate bikes from motor vehicles?

    You also do realize what you suggested goes against published DOT safety suggestions, right?

    “If the road is too narrow for a bicycle and a car to travel safely side by side, you have the right to ride in the middle of the travel lane.”
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/bicyclists/biketips.shtml

  • Reader

    Advocate for protected bicycle lanes.

  • CtotheC

    Riding safe and advocating for PBLs are not dependent on the other. Were you planning not to ride a bike at all until you finish advocating for PBLs?

  • Andrew

    We very quickly found out that Hanegby was not at fault and that the bus driver passed him unsafely.

    Anybody actually following the issue found that out, but did the NYPD find that out, or had they already concluded their “investigation” and therefore didn’t care anymore?

  • CtotheC

    The problem *is* with off-route bus and truck drivers. You’re having a driver turn into a single lane that pedestrians and bicyclists don’t expect a bus or large truck to turn onto, versus a wide thoroughfare like 34th St., 23rd St., or 14th St., where pedestrians and bicyclists are expecting multiple motor vehicles to either be turning or driving though the intersection.

    When you’re talking about “drive longer distances,” you know that it’s six blocks, right? 29th to 23rd? What’s that going at 35mph? Two minutes?

    Driving on prohibited roads is dangerous driving behavior. Imagine if that bus was driving down a road with a school right when school let out, which is prohibited. Is the problem no longer with off-route bus and truck drivers?

  • CtotheC

    If Hanegby had asserted his space and taken the whole lane, the bus driver would not have tried to pass him.

  • Andrew

    Bingo. It is illegal to make a turn without first ascertaining that the turn does not conflict with anybody else’s (pedestrian’s, cyclist’s, or other motorist’s) movement. Every driver understands that when it comes to left turns across opposing motor vehicle traffic, but the exact same law applies to left or right turns across bicycle or pedestrian traffic.

    Limited visibility – often the excuse for drivers in large vehicles (or for drivers of any vehicles at night or in the rain) – does not mean that you can just plow ahead and hope for the best. It means that you need to slow down and look especially carefully in order to compensate. If you’re still not absolutely certain that your turn doesn’t conflict with somebody else’s move, you haven’t slowed down enough.

    If your driving routine requires hoping for the best – especially when somebody else’s life is possibly at stake – then you have proven that you are either unwilling or incompetent to operate a motor vehicle safely and should be permanently stripped of your driving privilege.

  • Driver

    Have you been to Manhattan? Anybody who has spent an hour in the city and has two connected brain cells knows that there are trucks and buses on pretty much any street. Even if truck routes were perfectly followed, there would be local delivery trucks on pretty much any block. The idea that no one would expect any trucks on one way cross streets is absurd.
    It’s 12 blocks, 29th to 23rd, back to 29th, multiplies by a great number or vehicles equals significantly more miles traveled by heavy vehicles. 2 minutes, 35 mph? I guess you haven’t been to Manhattan, at least not during the day.
    OMG imagine the horrors, a bunch of (school) buses driving down a road when school lets out. I suppose there are no schools located on truck routes.
    A bus, truck, or car driver that does not bother to recognize, look for, and yield to cyclist and pedestrians is the problem here, regardless of what particular street they are on.

  • CtotheC

    You stand corrected.
    https://goo.gl/maps/Y9Sd3Vf6f682
    3min when you change to 3p.

    The idea that no one would expect any trucks (two axles and six tires, or three or more axles) on one way cross streets is not absurd; it’s the law. Maybe you should look it up.
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/truckrouting.shtml

    There *are* no schools located on truck routes. Do you know how to use Google?

    And what class you show with ad hominems.

  • CtotheC

    You stand corrected. It’s 2min. 3min when you change to 3p on any weekday.
    https://www.google.com/maps/dir/40.7478365,-73.9929011/40.7441969,-73.9955763/@40.7459712,-73.9963461,17z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e0

    The idea that no one would expect any trucks (two axles and six tires, or three or more axles) on one way cross streets is not absurd; it’s the law.
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/truckrouting.shtml

    There *are* no schools located on truck routes. This is kind of the point.
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/trucks.shtml#map

    And what class you show with ad hominems. Do you know how to use Google? Fortunately, all of your points can be proven as misinformed, with a little research.

  • CtotheC
  • Andrew

    There *are* no schools located on truck routes.

    Plainly false – there are plenty of schools on the Manhattan avenues designated as truck routes.

    And what class you show with ad hominems. Do you know how to use Google? Fortunately, all of your points can be proven as misinformed, with a little research.

    You seem to be quite heavy on the ad hominems yourself. Pretty ironic, given that Google Maps clearly shows schools located on truck routes.

    Cool it, please.

  • Andrew

    You’re having a driver turn into a single lane that pedestrians and bicyclists don’t expect a large truck to turn onto, versus a wide thoroughfare like 34th St., 23rd St., or 14th St., where pedestrians and bicyclists are expecting multiple motor vehicles to either be turning or driving though the intersection.

    If that driver yields to pedestrians and bicyclists before turning, as the law requires, it makes no difference what sort of vehicle the driver is driving.

    I’ll take a bus driver who yields over a car driver who doesn’t, any day.

    Imagine if that bus was driving down a road with a school right when school let out.

    I don’t need to imagine it; I’ve seen it numerous times. (For instance, school buses.) As long as the driver is driving safely, how’s a bus any worse than a car? If the driver isn’t driving safely, then of course we have a problem – even if he’s driving a car.

  • Andrew

    What’s that going at 35mph?

    By the way, the speed limit in New York City is 25 mph.

  • acerttr250

    The only way to protect life is to enforce long sentences when it is lost. What if we started to drop charges when those who kill say “I just didn’t see him?”.

    People need to go to jail. For a long time.

  • acerttr250

    The boys traffic division is there to promote the cartopia. Period.

  • CtotheC

    Look like you are correct on this. Though those six blocks still take 2-3min to traverse, at any time of the day, according to Google Maps.

  • CtotheC

    I stand corrected. Was looking at school addresses which are on streets but didn’t realize that are directly perpendicular/adjacent to truck route on the avenues.

    Also, I had no ad hominems. Never attacked him personally about brain cells etc. Another comment from another thread also showed that he didn’t use Google. This isn’t to say I wasn’t belligerent against his ideas, though there where no attacks on his character. But I will take you up on your suggestion.

  • Andrew

    Unless traffic is congested, as it often is.

  • Andrew

    I don’t know where you’re getting your list of school addresses, but there are schools with street addresses on truck routes.

  • CtotheC

    http://schools.nyc.gov/schoolsearch/

    The problem is that this system only lists 10 schools at one time, and NYC has tens of thousands of schools – public, private, pre-school, K-12, high school, higher education. So it’s really impossible for a school not to be on a truck route.

  • CtotheC

    >If that driver yields to pedestrians and bicyclists before turning, as the law requires, it makes no difference what sort of vehicle the driver is driving.

    In addition to yielding, the law also requires that trucks drive on truck routes. It does matter what type of vehicles are turning onto smaller streets because visibility is limited on larger vehicles, *and* – my point here – pedestrians and bikers don’t expect those larger vehicles to be going down those streets.

    It’s like if a car or motorcycle drives on the sidewalk or in a PBL bike lane (I’ve seen this, and garbage trucks do this all the time), but yields to bikes and pedestrians. Does it no longer matter where the vehicle was driving? Again, my point was the combination of type of vehicle and where they are driving, not just the type of vehicle.

  • CtotheC

    >As long as the driver is driving safely, how’s a bus any worse than a car?

    First, limited visibility. Second, you’re advocating for a repeal of the laws, which are there for a reason – to protect people. Essentially you are saying any vehicle should be able to drive down any roadway, “As long as the driver is driving safely” – not sure how you would reasonable guarantee this, since safe driving already doesn’t happen. And that’s why the law is there.

    Enforcement is a whole other issue.

  • Driver

    Trucks are allowed on streets that are not truck routes in some circumstances. Trucks and buses are allowed to leave the truck route from the point closest to their destination to get to their local destination. Anyone who spends any time in Manhattan knows that they may encounter heavy vehicles on pretty much any street.

  • CtotheC

    >Anyone who spends any time in Manhattan knows that they may encounter heavy vehicles on pretty much any street.

    This is true and is a problem with enforcement by NYPD, who we all know really don’t gave a shit.

  • CtotheC

    That is not the case for those six blocks. Any time of the day, congested or not, it takes 2-3 minutes. Change the following to any time.
    http://www.google.com/maps/dir/40.7478365,-73.9929011/40.7441969,-73.9955763/@40.7459712,-73.9963461,17z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e0

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