NYPD: No Charges, No Tickets for Bus Driver Who Killed Dan Hanegby
NYPD said Hanegby caused the collision that killed him. Meanwhile, council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez wants protected crosstown bike routes to prevent future crashes.
NYPD will not charge or ticket the bus driver who struck and killed Dan Hanegby as he rode a Citi Bike in Chelsea.
[Update: Video footage reviewed by Gothamist suggests the bus driver accelerated as he approached Hanegby from behind and struck the bike as he attempted to pass, causing Hanegby to fall. This contradicts the NYPD claim that Hanegby “swerved” while “trying to navigate a very tight space.”]
The department said the victim caused his own death when he tried to avoid a double-parked van as the Coach USA driver overtook him, disregarding the roles of the bus operator and the double-parked driver in the collision.
Hanegby was struck at around 8:15 a.m. Monday on W. 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, where there are two lanes for parked cars but no bike lanes.
The NYPD account of the crash suggests the bus operator, 52-year-old Dave Lewis of Poughkeepsie, passed Hanegby — who was known as an experienced cyclist — at an unsafe distance. But rather than let the investigation run its course, police commenced with blaming the deceased victim hours after the crash.
Anonymous NYPD sources told the Daily News that Hanegby, merging to avoid the double-parked van on his right, “was looking right as the bus was passing him on his left,” and “struck the side of the bus, lost control and fell under the rear wheels.”
“He was trying to navigate a very tight space,” the police source said.
NYPD further noted that Hanegby was riding without a bike helmet — an irrelevant detail that serves only to shift culpability toward the victim, since adult cyclists are not required to wear helmets in NYC and, as Bike Snob Eben Weiss noted, “in the event a rider is run over by a bus a helmet will offer no protection whatsoever.”
Speaking with Gothamist, an NYPD spokesperson implied Hanegby’s actions precipitated his death, assigning no agency to the bus driver. “Surveillance footage shows the cyclist looking right as he is swerving left,” the spokesperson said. “He is struck by the passenger side of the bus, loses control, falls to the pavement, and is then rolled over by the rear passenger side of the vehicle.”
NYPD tends to blame cyclists for fatal collisions by default, though, as in the cases of Lauren Davis and James Gregg, information provided to the press in the immediate aftermath of a crash is often proven wrong.
After the collision, officers from the 10th Precinct were ticketing cyclists on the same block where Hanegby was killed.
Illegal tour bus traffic has plagued W. 26th Street for months, according to Manhattan Community Board 4 chair Christine Berthet, who said area residents observed NYPD officers ticketing bus drivers on the street in the days before the crash. “Having those buses on non-authorized routes is a major problem,” Berthet said.
City traffic code prohibits charter and tour buses from streets not designated as truck routes, but it’s unclear whether the Coach USA bus involved in Monday’s crash was chartered, as reported by some outlets, or if Lewis was on a fixed intercity route. A Coach USA representative declined to comment on the crash and would not discuss the route Lewis was driving.
State law authorizes the city to regulate intercity bus stop locations, but not the routes that lead to those locations. “At this time, we don’t have any information suggesting that this bus did not belong on that street,” a NYC DOT spokesperson told Streetsblog.
The New York State DOT is conducting its own investigation, according to a spokesperson. “Our objective right now is to gather the facts and try to make a determination what happened,” the spokesperson told Streetsblog. “It can takes months or a year even.”
On Tuesday, City Council transportation committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez joined Transportation Alternatives in calling for protected east-west bike lanes in Manhattan.