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

2:09 PM EST on February 13, 2014

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

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