I am an avid cyclist and a personal injury lawyer who represents a fair number of New York bicycle injury victims. Maybe that’s why, whenever I read about a cyclist getting clobbered by a car, I think, “there but for the grace of God, go I . . .”.
It is therefore with special sadness (and also surprise) that I read in the New York Times the other day about a 36-year-old investment banker, Dan Hanegby, who was killed in Manhattan when the Citi Bike he was riding collided with a charter bus. He seemed like a successful and loving husband and father of small children.
It should be obvious to my readers why I was sad, but maybe not so obvious why I was surprised. I was not surprised that a cyclist was killed. Rather, I was surprised that this was the FIRST fatality (according to the Times) in the history of the City’s four-year-old bike-share program called “Citi Bike”.
Citi Bike is the largest bike-share program in the country, with hundreds of stations Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. You can “rent” a bike by inserting a credit card into an automated kiosk for a very reasonable price. The Citi Bike program averages about 50,000 rides a day, according to the most recent data available. According to the Times, Citi Bike has had more than 43 million trips in New York City since it began service four years ago.
That’s why it seemed odd to me that no Citi Bike rider had been killed until now. New York City is jam-packed with motor vehicles, all in a hurry, especially at rush hours. It’s pretty dangerous out there! How could no one have been killed in four years?
To be clear, it’s not that no cyclists have been killed in New York City in four years. Just no cyclists on Citi Bikes. In fact, last year, 2016, was the deadliest for cyclists overall in New York City. Motorists killed 17 cyclists. The year before it was only 15. But not a single Citi Biker!
So I scratched my head. Why? Perhaps (I speculated) Citi Bike users have just been lucky. Or perhaps the Citi Bikes’ design makes them safer. Citi Bikes feature flashing lights which operate whenever the bike is moving, day and night. This makes Citi Bikes more visible to motorists.
On the other hand, I thought, almost no Citi Bike users – myself included –wear helmets. That’s because Citi Bikes do not come equipped with helmets. This would seem to make them less safe than other bicycles. Cyclists who use their own bikes often own and use helmets. Citi Bike users less so.
Another thing that would tend to make Citi Bikes more prone to accidents – fatal and otherwise – is that many Citi Bike users are novices or tourists who may not have been on a bike for years. (Most seasoned New York cyclists own their own bike.) Many Citi Bike users thus don’t have the instincts for survival that tried-and-true bike-v-car cycling warriors have honed through years of experience.
Can I say it again? The scarcity of Citi Bike user deaths seems odd to me.
But I’m not complaining. I’m in no particular hurry to meet my maker, nor do I wish an expedited trip to the beyond for my fellow cyclists.
Fellow bikers, let’s take a moment to celebrate Citi Bike’s exceptional record of only a single fatality in its four-year existence. Then let’s say a prayer — or give a thought — to Dan Hanegby and his family. Read about him. An awesome guy with lots of talent and love to spread around.
There, but for the grace of God go I . . .
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Syracuse NY Bicycle Injury Lawyers
Michaels & Smolak, P.C.