Nation's Second Bikeshare Fatality Under Investigation in Manhattan

The police report conflicts with videos showing CitiBike rider Dan Hanegby, 36, an avid cyclist on his daily commute, being hit by a charter bus on June 12. Almost a year earlier, a Divvy Bike rider was fatally struck by a truck in Chicago.
June 19, 2017, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Joe Mazzola

Hannah Alani and Matthew Haag of The New York Times first reported on the crash shortly after it occurred last Monday:

The bicyclist, Dan Hanegby of Brooklyn, was riding on 26th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in the Chelsea neighborhood around 8:15 a.m. when he swerved to go around a parked van, struck a bus next to him that was traveling in the same direction, tumbled off the bicycle and fell under the bus’s rear tires, the police said. Mr. Hanegby sustained severe trauma, the police said, and was pronounced dead at Bellevue Hospital Center.

Alani follows-up her initial report with a longer piece on June 16 focused on the life of Hanegby and the circumstances surrounding the first fatal bikeshare crash in New York City, second in the United States after Virginia Murray, riding a Divvy Bike in Chicago, was fatally struck by a flatbed truck on July 1, 2016 along with two other cyclists.

Mrs. Hanegby’s friends said the police report did not make sense. “Swerved” indicated Mr. Hanegby lost control of the bike, or that he was being careless. Surveillance videos from two businesses on 26th Street, which were obtained by a family friend, provide a different account.

The videos show that "Mr. Hanegby’s front wheel is clipped by the bus and the back wheels of the bus run him over."

“It is a testament to the courage of Dan’s family and community to challenge initial assumptions and the inaccuracies N.Y.P.D. was putting out,” said Caroline Samponaro, a spokeswoman for Transportation Alternatives, which promotes cycling in the city. “It shouldn’t be on the backs of grieving families to do that kind of work.”

A similar discrepancy on the reporting of a bike fatality occurred in San Francisco in 2013 surrounding the circumstances of the death of 24-year-old Amelie Le Moullac in a report by Aaron Bialick for Streetsblog SF:

SF Bicycle Coalition Program Manager Marc Caswell found what SFPD investigators claimed they couldn’t: two surveillance cameras facing the street, one of which had footage showing the truck driver running over Le Moullac in the bike lane at Folsom and Sixth Streets on August 14.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Friday morning on WNYC that he planned to talk to Chief Thomas M. Chan, the Police Department’s transportation chief, about the investigation. He called the Citi Bike program a “massive success” that has benefited New Yorkers.

“But this death — and I must say, it’s a guy with an amazing future ahead of him and young children, devoted father. It’s horrible,” Mr. de Blasio said. “And an athlete on top of that — someone who obviously was very good at handling his bike.”

There is no bike lane on 26th Street. The videos also showed that Hanegby was not wearing a helmet and was using headphones.

Through May, five people had been killed on bicycles in New York this year, according to Vision Zero: two in Manhattan, and one each in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Injuries: Injuries: 1,301.

A report from the Mineta Transportation Institute found that bike-share bikes had lower collision and injury rates than personal bikes in three cities.

Related in Planetizen: 

  • U.S. Bike Share: 23 Million Rides; Zero FatalitiesAugust 14, 2014: Despite all the dire—sometimes hysterical—warnings about the safety risks of bike share, the country's bike share systems boast a flawless fatality record. Compare that record with, for instance, driving or riding non-bike-share bikes.

  • 'Dooring' Claims Bronx CyclistMar 19, 2010: Cyclist swerved into path of city bus to avoid being 'doored'.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, June 16, 2017 in The New York Times
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