Long Island Lawmaker to Injured Mom: No One Should Ride Bikes Here

After his mother was hit by a driver while riding her bicycle, 17-year-old Matthew Cutrone appealed to local lawmakers with a pretty reasonable request: consider adding bike lanes. But this story only goes downhill from there.

Suffolk County Legislator Thomas Barraga told a constituent that no one should ever ride bikes in the county. Image: Newsday
Suffolk County legislator Thomas Barraga. Photo: Newsday

Matthew and his mother, Sandy, were shocked when they received a response from Suffolk County legislator Thomas Barraga saying no one should ride a bike in the county. They posted Barraga’s response on Facebook (h/t @bikesnobnyc). Here’s what he told them:

I have lived in West Islip most of my life and my personal feeling is that no one who lives in our hamlet or for that matter in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle or motorcycle. I cannot tell you how many constituents over the years have told me that they are taking up bicycling for pleasure and exercise. I have told them not to do so but they usually do not listen – 90 percent of those people eventually were hit by an automobile, many like your mother with serious physical injuries.

Barraga added that he didn’t think bike lanes would help, saying, “Suffolk County is a suburban county drivers expect to see other drivers on the roads, not bicyclists or motorcycles.”

Sandy, who broke her shoulder blade in the crash, told CBS New York that she was disappointed Barraga seemed to imply she was responsible for the collision. The driver was found at fault because he made an illegal left turn into her while she was proceeding through a green light.

She also questioned Barraga’s 90 percent figure. He responded that it was based on his own estimate of the correspondence he’s received on the topic in his 30-plus years as a lawmaker.

So, no need to make streets safer or try to give suburban residents relief from the unrelenting car-centricity of their streets. Just stop with the biking already!

  • Mark R. Brown

    Nobody tells drivers to stop driving despite 40,000+ roadway deaths a year.

  • Maria Gatti

    What a bloody pig. I certainly hope he is voted out of office.

  • KillMoto

    Exactly. And even motorists should agree with this. After all, the top killer of motorists is… motorists.

  • Michael Klatsky

    Transportation Alternative really needs to jump on this.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Someday his generation will be gone. So will their attitudes.

    Their debts will remain. If they leave anything behind, they’ll consider it a missed opportunity.

  • I’m pretty sure that he pulled that 90% figure out of his ass.

  • Kevin Love

    87% of statistics reported on the internet were just made up out of thin air. 🙂

  • shouldbworking

    Tool, and a presumptuous and tone deaf one at that.

  • Jeffrey Baker

    Not even motorcycles! Amazing new depths of toolhood from this legislator. I intend to ride my motorcycle directly to this moron’s district and dismount right in front if his driveway.

  • shotwellian

    This calls for a Suffolk County Critical Mass.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    So Tom Barraga just said to the child of a an injured mother of a car on bike crash, “Your mom deserved what she got. Drive a car or die!”

    Mr. Barraga please resign you insensitive, ignorant ass!

  • MrBadExample

    I wonder if this is a commonly-held opinion out in Suffolk and if so, was it related to the end of the North Fork Century ride (several towns were objecting to all the bicycles and the organizer had to give up). The knock on North Fork bike tourism is that they don’t spend the kind of money that driving tourists do because there’s no easy way for a cyclist to haul away a case of wine. My fear is that Barraga is just saying what his more polite colleagues would not.

  • Aunt Bike

    We’ve seen similar attitudes here in NYC. Staten Island Borough President James Oddo once argued against bike lanes because the island has too many hills. Never mind that it’s encircled by wide, smooth roads.

  • Wilfried84

    I grew up in Suffolk County. So I guess I should have just stayed at home after school every day, cause Mom was too busy working to drive me places. And I shouldn’t have taken that marine biology class at the beach that summer, since without a car, or Mom to drive me, clearly the class just wasn’t meant for me. And despite my youthful recklessness riding a bike to get around at age 13, I was incredibly lucky to be among the 10% who was not hit by a car. No, it would have been better had I just sat at home watching television, as people in a suburban automobile community are supposed to.

  • Thankfully, I did not have to deal with such legislative sour opinions on cycling when I lived in Stony Brook and Port Jefferson. In fact, it was when I lived on Eastern Long Island that I took up adult bicycling, riding thousands of miles per year in a place that I still consider to have been, at least back then, a cycling paradise.

    That riding included my daily commute to and from SUNY Stony Brook on a variety of roads from relatively quiet ones (Sheep Pasture Road) to major ones (25A, NY 347).

    It would seem to me that any astute legislator should know that part of Long Island’s problem is that it is about to sink under the weight of its excessive reliance on the single-occupant automobile. They don’t call the LIE “The World’s Longest Parking Lot” for nothin’.

    Sheesh. I hope the local cycling community in Islip takes Mr. Barraga for a long, enjoyable bike ride. He needs to come around to our side.

  • What it really calls for is someone to run against Mr. Barraga in the next election cycle.

  • My god. The last thing LI needs is more driving.

  • Brian Sheehan

    His bullcrap 90% figure was probably based only on the bicyclists that have actually contacted him. Which, up until the time he made that statement, he hadn’t heard much from cyclists who hadn’t gotten injured on Suffolk County roads, probably because they felt little need to make contact with him in the first place.

    The sad thing is this clueless idiot assumes that it is representative of all bicyclists.

  • douglasawillinger

    Flip side of the idiotic anti road anti car movement.

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