CHELSEA — The NYPD chose not to send representatives to a meeting focused on bike safety in the neighborhood — a decision local leaders called “insulting” in the wake of two recent cyclist fatalities in the neighborhood.
Community Board 4’s Transportation Committee invited the NYPD to its Wednesday meeting following the deaths of 36-year-old financier Dan Hanegby and 80-year-old cobbler Michael Mamoukakis, committee co-chair Yoni Bokser said.
But representatives from the police department “declined to attend,” Bokser said.
“I talked to the police and they told me the investigation was underway,” co-chair Christine Berthet said.
The committee had hoped to discuss enforcement issues with the agency, as well as concerns about the accuracy of statements the NYPD made following Hanegby’s death.
Police said the Credit Suisse executive, who was riding a Citi Bike, swerved to avoid hitting a parked car before colliding with a bus, but surveillance video refuted that account.
“The crash report is, from what I gather… inaccurate,” committee member David Warren said. “So we have a problem with the credibility of the police, which is a huge issue.”
The NYPD has "consistently misrepresented the facts” in collisions involving cyclists, committee member Dale Corvino added.
“They reflexively blame the cyclist, and then later the facts come out, and it’s completely contradictory,” he maintained. “It’s a mindset of our heavily suburbanized police force — they’re not sympathetic to cyclists, and to them it’s just another problem.”
The committee plans to write letters to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Department of Transportation outlining its concerns about bike safety in the neighborhood and police response to cyclist-involved crashes.
CB4 has requested protected crosstown bike lanes several times in the past and plans to ask to see a time frame for their implementation, Warren said.
“I think September [would] be great, before the busy fall system,” Bokser said.
Several board members, meanwhile, raised concerns about buses and trucks traveling on streets that are not DOT-designated routes for trucks and some buses.
The bus involved in the incident that killed Hanegby was reportedly a Hudson Transit Lines commuter bus, and the road it was traveling on — West 26th Street — is not a designated truck route.
Last year, CB4 raised concerns about tour buses traveling "bumper-to-bumper" down residential streets in Chelsea.
“We should ask… that that bus company’s permit be immediately suspended because of the fatality,” Warren said. “They were not on the designated route.”
The DOT is working with the NYPD on a plan to enforce those routes, and will return to the board with an update about the requested crosstown bike lanes, DOT representative Colleen Chattergoon told the committee.
Along with concerns raised by the committee members, the board’s letters to the mayor, the NYPD and the DOT will include suggestions meeting attendees brought up — including the use of camera enforcement along truck routes, Berthet said.
The letters will also address the NYPD’s absence at the meeting.
“They still should have come today, even to say, ‘We can’t talk,’” Bokser said.
“And we can say in the letter, we are very disappointed,” Berthet added. “This is really kind of insulting that you didn’t show up when we had two people killed in our neighborhood.”
The NYPD did not immediately return a request for comment.