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Suffolk Pol: No One Should Ever Ride a Bike in Suffolk County

Legis. Thomas Barraga says there's no way to keep bikers safe on Suffolk's roadways.

Legis. Thomas Barraga's letter to 17-year-old Matthew Cutrone has been circulated rapidly online.
Legis. Thomas Barraga's letter to 17-year-old Matthew Cutrone has been circulated rapidly online.
A letter sent to a constituent by Suffolk County Legis. Thomas Barraga in which he says that no one in Suffolk "should ever ride a bicycle" is spreading rapidly across the internet. 

Barraga's letter was sent to 17-year-old Matthew Cutrone, who wrote the legislator regarding his concerns about bike safety following an accident that seriously injured his mother.

In his Dec. 16 letter, Cutrone, of West Islip, wrote that he thought there should be "some sort of bike lane or maybe even just some warning signs to put around in certain areas so that drivers can know when to be careful of bicyclists.”

Cutrone's mother, Sandy, was hit by a van while biking on Montauk Highway in Babylon in September. Matthew said his mother was wearing a helmet at the time and "following the proper bike laws of the road." 

Barraga, in his response dated Jan. 29, said bike lanes and additional signage "would do little to solve the problem." In fact, the West Islip Republican said no one in Suffolk should ride a bike at all. 

"I cannot tell you how many constituents over the years have told me that they are taking up bicycling for pleasure and exercise," Barraga wrote. "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." 

With the letter picking up steam online after Sandy Cutrone posted it on her Facebook page Tuesday, Barraga told WCBS 880 that his letter was not meant to pin blame on Cutrone for the crash that broke her scapula.

“All I’m saying is that Suffolk County is a very, very tough place for bicyclists," Barraga said, according to WCBS.

PeopleForBikes, a group that works to improve bicycling in the U.S., posted an article on its website Wednesday entitled "Don't Scare Our Kids Away From Biking, Thomas Barraga." 

The full letter from Barraga to Matthew Cutrone: 

January 29, 2014

Dear Mr. Cutrone

Thank you for your recent letter concerning bicycle safety and bicycle lanes. Let me at the outset express the hope that you mother will have a complete recovery from her accident in September while riding a bicycle in West Islip. 

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 a 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. 

I have heard the suggestion of bicycle lanes and additional signage but unfortunately this would do little to solve the problem. Suffolk County is a suburban automobile community—drivers expect to see other drivers on the road not bicyclists and motorcyclists.  Even in those areas outside of Suffolk County where a portion of the road is for bicyclists—they still get hit by motorists. Signage has limited effects—there are currently 135 signs between Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway on Higbie Lane and Udall Road—most of them are ignored by drivers.

Reality at a time can be difficult for some to come to grips with but giving false hope would be inappropriate. 


What do you think of Barraga's letter? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 
brookhavenconfucius February 15, 2014 at 12:32 PM
Thank you Uncle Archie, You TREE HUGGERS are a nasty thinking bunch, ain't you ?
cbg February 15, 2014 at 03:06 PM
I think Thomas Barrage is right. The roads are meant for cars not bikes. Although most people are careful when seeing the bikes accidents do happen. It would be too costly to make bike lanes everywhere. Bike riders are not careful either, for example when a car needs to make a turn from a major road and a bike is in the path of that turn it can cause a major accident on a main road. The bike riders should look first if a car is about to turn, but they are not careful.
knee jerk February 15, 2014 at 03:18 PM
When I see a bicyclist riding in peak traffic hours I perceive them to be alcoholics or druggies who have lost their licenses. No one should be out riding at those times unless for necessity.
STAR dot STAR February 15, 2014 at 03:48 PM
Barraga and cbg are the voice of reality. Barraga did not call for a ban on bicycles or motorcycles. Thousands of trucks carrying thousands of tons of food to Suffolk County every day are required for us to survive. They require roads not the playgrounds of the utopian bicyclists.
brookhavenconfucius February 15, 2014 at 05:01 PM
YOU HAVE TO BE INSANE, to ride a bike ANYWHERE, on the main roads on Long Island ! With drivers of all ages, 'hopped up' on God Knows What...you only increase your chances of getting killed ! Bike Riders, like motorcyclists, basically think they OWN the road, most of the time. It makes a great mix, for tragedy !
james stone February 15, 2014 at 10:42 PM
Accidents can happen whether you are in a bicycle, motorcycle, car or even walking. I'm not for bike lanes either just common sense.. I dont understand cbg's point, when you are making a turn from ANY road you MUST yield the right of way
brookhavenconfucius February 16, 2014 at 08:04 AM
James, driving is a difficult task, as it is...adding MORE, from a small 'special interest', just adds more !
don kehoe February 16, 2014 at 08:18 AM
It was a poorly written letter, but it's amazing how many people try to distort it's meaning. The fact is, it's very dangerous to ride on LI. The main problem is excessive speed and aggressive driving that causes more injuries than DWI/DUI driving. The police don't bother to enforce these laws, and many people think it's their right to drive any way they want, so it will remain dangerous. There are also too many bike riders who don't follow the laws-that also contributes to the problem.
Papa Tom February 16, 2014 at 09:12 AM
This has certainly been a stimulating discussion, except for the personal jabs people are taking at each other. I, for one, object to the overall message Leg. Barraga puts out when he implies that anyone who rides a bicycle in Suffolk County must be crazy, dumb, or have some other mental defect. That's a stereotype we work very hard to break down as cyclists. Many of us are simply trying to get past the mundane day-to-day task of getting to work or to the stores. Others do it for health. And overall, most of us ride because it's part of the whole suburban experience that we pay a big price for. Don't tell cyclists not to cycle because there are too many drivers out there texting and not paying attention to the road - as if this is acceptable behavior for drivers. Tell drivers to stop texting and start paying attention to the road!
brookhavenconfucius February 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Does a SANE person put themselves, in harm's way ? WHY shouldn't someone say "cyclists not to cycle because there are too many drivers out there texting and not paying attention to the road ? Do you live in REAL WORLD ? WHAT IS A SANE PERSON SUPPOSED TO SAY...Go play in trafffic and disregard the REALITY of what goes on, around you ? Listen to what YOU are saying ?
Ryan Bonner (Editor) February 23, 2014 at 03:36 PM
Any comments with profanity in them will be immediately deleted. Thanks.
ann m February 24, 2014 at 07:51 AM
I have to leave a comment. Suffolk County has so many beautiful parks and SAFE places to ride a bike. (not talking motorcycles) Why would anyone ride on Sunrise Highway??? It's like riding on the LIE with traffic lights. The bottom like for me is this: Use your head don't ride where you know there is a tremendous amount of traffic, that is careless and stupid. LI is no longer the safe place it once was, you have to take that into consideration when you decide to ride. I live near Jericho Turnpike and and would not even consider riding there. Unless I had a death wish which I don't. Before you decide to put bike lanes on Sunrise Highway; take yourself into NYC near 8th street and 1st Ave. and think again. Don't worry no one will hurt you in the East Village. You can blame the drivers, most are idiots (1/2 don't have licenses on LI) knowing this, your main concern MUST be YOU and YOUR safety. Ride in a safe area; take responsibility for where you ride. If you choose to ride in an place, knowing it's not safe (riding on Sunrise or Jericho isn't really safe) know there are consequences.
ann m February 24, 2014 at 07:53 AM
Don Kehoe is 100% right.
brookhavenconfucius February 24, 2014 at 08:03 AM
ann m, There is ALWAYS some NUT, who would do something stupid, and dangerous to themselves, like this, just because they feel they have the 'legal right' to. That's how CRAZY, these Tree Huggers are ! It is still a Country, where you are Free, to be STUPID !
knee jerk February 24, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Don Kehoe is only 50% right. The police do enforce speeding and reckless driving laws. The problem is there are not enough police to cover the many roads on LI, in large part because they are too expensive. That's why many police departments have "quota" systems.
Greg Merritt February 24, 2014 at 12:39 PM
Dear Mr. Cutrone Thank you for your recent letter concerning street safety and sidewalks. Let me at the outset express the hope that you mother will have a complete recovery from her mugging in September while walking in West Islip. 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 walk outdoors. I cannot tell you how many constituents over the years have told me that they are taking up walking 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 mugged many like your mother with serious physical injuries. I have heard the suggestion of better street lights and police patrols but unfortunately this would do little to solve the problem. Suffolk County is a suburban outlaw community— criminals expect to see other potential victims, not citizens with basic rights. Even in those areas outside of Suffolk County where there is decent street lighting and police presence —they still get mugged. Lighting and police presence has limited effects—there are currently 135 street lights between Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway on Higbie Lane and Udall Road —most of them are ignored by muggers. Reality at a time can be difficult for some to come to grips with but giving false hope would be inappropriate.
bob young February 24, 2014 at 01:20 PM
Good to hear that Suffolk county and specifically West Islip, is now living the Obama socialist utopian dream. Equal crime for everyone. Talk about equality.
Halford February 24, 2014 at 04:03 PM
everyone should take a deep breath and re-read the Barraga letter again- what he is saying, makes perfect sense to me- basically, he is saying that no matter the amount of signs, bike lanes, reduced speed limits, or whatever...that bicycle riding can be a dangerous undertaking...
knee jerk February 24, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Hey Hal, thanks for explaining it to me in simple terms. And thanks to Barraga also for telling me what I already knew, having gone over the handlebars a few times in my life.
STAR dot STAR February 24, 2014 at 04:55 PM
NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law §1234 ... "(a) Upon all roadways, any bicycle or in-line skate shall be driven either on a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane or, if a usable bicycle or in-line skate lane has not been provided, near the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway or upon a usable right- shoulder in such a manner as to prevent undue interference with the flow of traffic". This means don't interfere with the adults in the cars and trucks that provide you with what you need to live in this society and allow you to live as well as you do. Bicyclists pay no registration fee for their bicycles, no inspection fee, no licensing fee, no insurance fee, nor gas tax to maintain the roads. Moreover, move over, the life you save will be your own.
Archie Bunker February 24, 2014 at 06:15 PM
What a smug jerk
ann m February 24, 2014 at 07:08 PM
The law, any law is only as good as the police that enforce it.. and I think we can all agree they don't.. DD is better.
Kristina Mirell March 12, 2014 at 06:59 PM
How about we take away his car/driver/chauffer for a few months and give him a bicycle and tell him to get busy living or get busy dying? Then make him rewrite that letter. I think he'll change his tune real fast.
brookhavenconfucius March 13, 2014 at 07:14 AM
Archie, take your three wheeler, and peddle on 387, someday, IF you have the cajones there, below your belt !
Joan March 14, 2014 at 05:28 PM
He's an idiot. If it's not safe for cyclists then it's HIS JOB to make it safe. Arrogant pri.....
Joan March 14, 2014 at 05:29 PM
STAR dot STAR Their taxes or their parents taxes PAID FOR THE ROAD.
STAR dot STAR March 14, 2014 at 06:26 PM
I doubt that their parents paid taxes so that their children could play in traffic, but if it sounds like a good idea to you, go ahead.
ann m March 14, 2014 at 08:46 PM
It all comes down to this. Use you HEAD if it doesn't look safe it probably isn't. You can say it's "THEIR" fault and get hurt or just use you judgement.
knee jerk March 15, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Joan: What does ..... at the end of "pri" stand for?
brookhavenconfucius March 15, 2014 at 09:06 AM
Joan, you take a walk on 387, ANYWHERE, and tell us HOW TO MAKE IT SAFE ? ANY BOOB who rides a bike, on Long Island, IN TRAFFIC, needs Special Education classes. NOTE: APOLOGIES TO SPECIAL EDUCATION PEOPLE, for associating ANYONE, with Long Island Bike NUTS !

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