This week, actor Lisa Banes, who rose to prominence in the New York City theater scene in the 80s, died after being involved in a hit-and-run in which she was struck by an e-scooter rider who ran a red light on the Upper West Side. As a result, state lawmakers are pushing a bill that would increase the penalties for conducting a hit-and-run specifically with a scooter.
“I can’t think of anything that’s more cowardly, unconscionable, and morally depraved than that causing the death of an individual and leaving the scene of a crash – and that’s exactly what happened here,” state Sen. Brad Hoylman said Wednesday at the corner of West 64th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, where the June 4 incident took place. Hoylman, joined by Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, announced the legislation that would bring the consequences for e-scooter riders who flee the scene of a crash in line with those operating automobiles.
Currently, leaving the scene of a car crash that results is a felony under state law, while doing so on a e-scooter is a misdemeanor.
“That makes no sense,” said Hoylman. “Our laws need to catch up with the times.”
Put in Danger
The legislation would be a direct response to the death of Banes, who was 65, but would also be an attempt at heeding the cries of Manhattan residents who feel they are put in danger by motorized bikes and e-scooters each time they cross the street.
“The roads are mayhem,” said Rosenthal. “There are all manners of vehicles not obeying the traffic rules. We’ve seen the increase in electric scooters and many more accidents that are happening and many more crashes on the horizon.”
Rona Jones, who lives in the neighboring Amsterdam NYCHA housing, told the West Side Spirit that the speeding by motorized bikes and e-scooters is “horrible,” particularly at night.
“There’s no regulation. I think there should be a flashing light in the bike lane on every corner,” said Jones, adding that she and her neighbors sometimes sit at the corner and try to clock just how fast the bikes and scooters are traveling. “They need some kind of speed bump to slow them down here or something.”
“No Moral Compass”
Greg Schriefer, who had been friends with Banes for 15 years, was on hand for Wednesday’s press conference, and called on the alleged assailant to turn themselves in.
“Whoever did this ran her over and left her for dead. It’s basically a murder,” said Schriefer. “He had no moral compass to turn around and see if she was OK ... if you’re out there, please turn yourself in.”
Schriefer told reporters that Banes was an “elegant and vivacious” and she would be missed deeply by those who loved her, including her wife. Banes was a Los Angeles resident who had been in the city to visit friends at the time of the hit-and-run. She was well-known for her roles in “Gone Girl,” ‘Madam Secretary,” as well as many stage productions.
“This is a lovely woman who did not deserve this,” said Schriefer. “We must take back the streets from those who are using them unlawfully.”
Schriefer called for the state legislature to pass Hoylman and Rosenthal’s bill and for New Yorkers to remain vigilant while out on the streets.
“It is time for legislation that will make these crimes punishable as a felony to help limit these unnecessary tragedies and save lives,” he said. “It goes through my head all the time when I watch people walk across streets, and they’ve watched the light, they wait for the light to change, and they think it’s their right away ... and still everyone has to look both ways four times, five times, whatever [when they cross the street]. Be safe, be safe; there’s too much going on in the city right now that you cannot let your guard down.”
“There’s no regulation. I think there should be a flashing light in the bike lane on every corner.” Rona Jones, resident of Amsterdam NYCHA housing.