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After Cyclist Deaths, Manhattan CB 4 Presses DOT for Protected Crosstown Bikeways

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

After drivers killed two cyclists in the district last month, Manhattan Community Board 4 is reiterating its request for DOT to install protected bike lanes on crosstown streets in Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen.

Dan Hanegby and Michael Mamoukakis were hit by charter bus drivers in crashes on W. 26th Street and W. 29th Street, respectively. Hanegby was sideswiped by a driver who was attempting to pass him from behind. The driver who hit Mamoukakis was making a turn. There are no bike lanes where Hanegby and Mamoukakis were killed.

Both crashes occurred on streets where charter bus traffic is legally prohibited, but drivers for the charter companies routinely stray from the designated routes they're supposed to use.

Available evidence also suggests both victims had the right of way and did nothing against traffic rules, yet neither driver was charged by NYPD or Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance. Vance's office did not respond to a Streetsblog query concerning the investigation into Mamoukakis's death.

The lack of safe east-west bike infrastructure in Manhattan has become all the more apparent as protected bike lanes have grown on north-south avenues. But despite fatalities like the collision on 29th Street that killed Marilyn Dershowitz in 2011, DOT hasn't developed a plan to protect cyclists from traffic on Manhattan's crosstown streets.

Last week, the CB 4 transportation committee sent letters to DOT [PDF] and NYPD [PDF] asking for street design changes and more stringent bus enforcement.

From the letter to DOT:

Since 2014, CB4 is on record for requesting that crosstown protected bike lanes be studied. Without crosstown protected bike lanes to connect to the network of north/south lanes, riders are in great danger on the cross streets due to the narrowness of the streets or the intense congestion on some of them. Neither painted bike lanes or sharrows are adequate to protect riders’ lives since they allow for double parking and for drivers to overtake the lane.

Since the June fatalities, City Council transportation chair Ydanis Rodriguez and Transportation Alternatives have also called for protected bike lanes on crosstown routes.

Other steps suggested by CB 4 include moving intercity bus stops to the far West Side, and tying the issuance of operating permits to bus companies' safety records.

“In these particular cases where the drivers violated the law and killed cyclists,” writes CB 4, “there should be a mechanism to terminate the permit.”

In a letter addressed to Police Commissioner James O'Neill, CB 4 asked NYPD to meet with board members and the public to "discuss these issues and share the measures [the department] will take" to prevent crashes.

The 10th Precinct, where Mamoukakis and Hanegby were killed, responded to Hanegby’s death by ticketing bike riders.

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