New York County Legislator Explains How Bike Lanes Are Really Murder Alleys


Now here's some constituent service: in New York, Suffolk County Legislator Thomas Barraga got a letter from a 17-year-old whose mother was struck by a van while riding her bike. Matthew Cutrone wrote to Barraga to ask if the county could add bike lanes, or at least warning signs to improve bicycle safety in the area. Well, by golly, young Matthew did not get a bland "Thank you for your concern" form letter back, no sirree! Barraga actually took the time tocraft a personal response to the young man, explaining this simple solution to the issue:

"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," Barraga wrote. "Suffolk County is a suburban automobile community -- drivers expect to see other drivers on the road, not bicyclists and motorcyclists."

Problem: solved! And to anyone who thinks it was insensitive, just be glad Cutrone's mom wasn't mugged. "People should just not go outside..."

Matthew wrote to Barraga for an assignment in his American Government class that asked students to write to an elected official about an issue that they cared about. Lesson learned! Not everybody learns the truth at seventeen, that laws are made by complete idiots (yeah, you find a rhyme for "seventeen" -- I'm a Doktor, not Carole King). We figure that Matthew's got to get some extra credit in Introduction to Cynicism, too.

Sandy Cutrone, Matthew's mom, was seriously injured September 19 while riding her bike on Montauk Highway. A van hit her while it was turning left; the driver said he didn't see her. And of course he wouldn't have, because, as we have established, nobody rides a bike in Suffolk County. Ms. Cutrone suffered a severe concussion, a broken scapula, and vision problems thathave left her unable to work since the accident.

When he wrote to Barraga in December, Matthew suggested that the county add bike lanes, or at least warning signs "in certain areas so that drivers can know when to be careful of bicyclists." Barraga final wrote back January 29 to let the young man know that Suffolk County is a car-friendly area, and only chumps ride bikes. But did Matthew accept Barraga's frank suggestions in the spirit of candor and real-world tough-mindedness they were offered? For some reason, he did not:

He said he "didn't expect to get a reaction like that" from Barraga. "It seemed pretty rude and messed up in a way, to say people shouldn't ride bikes and motorcycles."

Said his mother: "I had to read it three times to let it sink in." She said she called Barraga's office and left a message that she wouldn't be voting for him again.

For his part, Barraga is not going to let some whiny 17-year-old (who is probably spoiled because he always got Valentines from everyone in elementary school) change his mind: He will not back down:

"I'm not going to tell them what they want to hear, a lot of fluff," he said in an interview. "I tell them the truth."

Barraga's letter did at least wish Matthew's mother a speedy recovery. But Barraga then explained that he regularly warns his constituents about the dangers of two-wheeled travel, telling them that it's safest not to get mixed up in that madness and backing up that warning with some indisputable science facts:

"They usually do not listen -- 90 percent of these people eventually were hit by an automobile, many like your mother with serious physical injuries."

No word on how he quantified that 90% figure or whether he had contributed to it himself.

Lest anyone think that Barraga just has it out for cyclists, he also said in the interview that runners and joggers should stay out of streets, too:

"The odds are against you," he said. "Go to the gym. Go to your basement. Don't run around."

Better yet, why not just spend all your time in your car? In any case, it's awfully nice to see somebody finally standing up for drivers, who are often inconvenienced by having to pay attention to other legal but clearly insignificant users of the public thoroughfares. Besides, as anyone who reads the thoughts of philosopher-county commission candidate Victoria Jackson knows, bicycle paths are simply part of the United Nations' Agenda 21 plot to turn America into a socialist hellhole.

Matthew should have asked a question about something more relevant, like why Suffolk County has a "Legislature" instead of a "County Commission" or "Board of Supervisors." Not only does a name like that confuse the identities of county and state governing bodies, it's pretty grandiose, isn't it?

[Long Island Newsday via TPM]

Follow Doktor Zoom on Twitter. You won't get him on one of those two-wheeled least not until it warms up outside.

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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