As stage and screen actress Lisa Banes clings to life, a growing chorus of New Yorkers is clamoring for a ban on e-bikes and scooters in bike lanes and public spaces.
The clarion call comes as e-bike fatalities surged 233 percent from just six in 2019 to 20 in 2020, according to city Department of Transportation data. There have been eight fatalities so far this year, including at least two pedestrians.
A Community Board 7 committee voted this week to ban electric bikes from bike lanes, underscoring the mayhem and close calls involving e-bikes on the Upper West Side.
The vote came nearly two months after the manager of Upper West Side restaurant Jing Fong was struck by an e-bike in the bike lane on Amsterdam Avenue near 78th Street at about 1:30 p.m. on April 17. The e-bike operator — who remained at the scene — was not charged, police said. Hing Chung, a 71-year-old Bensonhurst resident, succumbed to his injuries eight days later.
On April 16, a day before Chung’s deadly encounter, a speeding e-biker mowed down a 67-year-old East Village photographer on Ninth Avenue and West 39th Street in Midtown around 4 p.m. Unlike Chung, she lived to tell her story.
“The person didn’t stop. He just kept going. He knocked me down, I fell so fast it was unbelievable,” the shell-shocked shutterbug told The Post. The injured woman — who requested anonymity — suffered a fractured left hip and required surgery and a titanium rod was placed from her hip to her knee. She spent five days in Lenox Hill Hospital and was out of work for six weeks. The victim believes the hit-and-run e-biker was a deliveryman.
“They’re all over and they’re going the wrong way and they’re going fast and they don’t stop at the lights. They don’t care. They will hit you if you are in their way,” the photographer fumed. “The city has to regulate this because it’s so out of control.”
Queens real estate broker Kelly Killian was walking in Astoria on May 28 when she was struck by a deliveryman riding an e-bike around 8:30 p.m., police said. The 54-year-old woman was cut down at the corner of 21st Avenue and 31st Street, just around the block from where she lived, the Astoria Post reported. She later died from her injuries.
After “Gone Girl” actress Banes was critically injured June 4 by what cops say was a hit-and-run scooter driver on the Upper West Side, a sympathetic and “shocked” Neil Fazel posted the thespian’s photo on a neighborhood Facebook page and noted he was “messed up” by a streaking e-biker while jogging in Central Park in December.
The “fortunate” 55-year-old Fazel told The Post he was running along East Drive on Dec. 1 — “hugging the side of the road” around 7 p.m. — when the hit-and-run e-biker “came out of nowhere” and struck him from behind. Said the 5-foot-9, 172-pound Fazel: “I have a pretty robust body. I have really good bones. I’m reasonably muscular. If this had happened to someone a little bit older or someone more fragile, this could have been deadly.”
Fazel told The Post the right handle bar of the e-bike stabbed him in the back. When Fazel broke his fall with his right hand, his elbow went into his ribs. The bloodied Fazel suffered elevated eye pressure, a non-displaced fractured rib and injured his left hand — he sleeps with a brace on it — in the e-bike assault. Fazel believes the offending operator, who wasn’t in a bike lane, was a deliveryman because he “saw a white plastic bag hanging from the handlebar.”
“You dont hear them,” he said. “They have the momentum of a motorcycle. I have some sympathy for people who use these to survive … But they go faster than the fastest cyclist … They go faster than some cars.”
Under New York State law, e-bikes are now classified in the same category as regular bicycles and are allowed to travel up to 25 mph, the same as the speed limit for cars.
E-bike fatalities are climbing but are not yet at the 2020 level of deaths by motorcycle (51) or cars (70), according to DOT data.
“Those are all fatalities where the victim was a motorcyclist or motor vehicle occupant,” a DOT spokeswoman said.
As of June 10 this year, there have been 11 motorcycle fatalities and 29 motor vehicle occupant deaths, the agency said.
Fazel said he hopes actress Banes recovers and that the spotlight on the tragic incident will lead to safer streets. “I told my partner at the time [of his own e-bike accident] that when someone famous gets hit, then things will happen.”
As for Banes, her condition remains unchanged. The NYPD on Friday said “there are no arrests at this time” and confirmed the hit-and-run vehicle is “a red and black scooter that fled northbound on Amsterdam Avenue.”
Metro | New York Post