Bicycle Bozo of the Year Award ~ Thomas Barraga
Suburban NY Lawmaker: Ban Bicycling on Long Island
The Times Union ran an AP story on February 14, 2014 reporting tasteless and discriminatory comments by my candidate for “Bicycle Bozo of the Year.” Suburban lawmaker “ . . .says it’s too dangerous for people on eastern Long Island to ride bicycles or motorcycles on the street. Suffolk County legislator Thomas Barraga made the claim in a letter to the son of a Long Island woman who was injured by a car while bicycling. Wikipedia reports that he stated in the letter “no one who lives in our hamlet or for that matter Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle or motorcycle.” Barraga goes on to state that signage and bike lanes would do little to solve the problem, since motorists ignore signs anyway. “Reality at times can be difficult for some to come to grips with but giving false hope would be inappropriate.”
Our own Josh Wilson, executive director of the New York Bicycling Coalition says cycling fatalities in Suffolk made up almost 20 percent of the state’s total.
Here’s the whole text from People for Bikes:
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.
Signed: Thomas Barraga
It was a real pleasure to open the autumn 2013 edition (Vol. 12, No. 1) of “Bicycle Quarterly” and find all the artwork (including the few ads) in full color. “Bicycle Quarterly” is a labor of love of its founder and editor, Jan Heine. If you want technical articles and unrestrained reviews, this is the mag for you.
There is almost a glut of non-racing bicycle journals on the market – “Momentum,” “Bicycle Quarterly,” “Bicycle Times,” “Urban Velo,” and “Bicycling.” Part of the market will shake out with edge going to those that have the editorial courage to write independent equipment coverage. From at least one of the aforementioned journals, one would think that every light, shifter, frame, tire, etc. was a flawless divine creation in which no possible improvement could be envisioned.
While recognizing that the bicycle magazines have to survive within the realities of ad revenues and their dependence on the manufactures for test equipment, “Bicycle Quarterly” stands out. Not only are the tests well documented and based on (in some cases) some sophisticated test modalities but the reader gets the impression that the review is the “whole truth and nothing but the truth. Interestingly, “Bicycle Quarterly” invites the manufacturer to comment on the test/review and publishes the reactions along with the review.
If you are unfamiliar with “Bicycle Quarterly,” try it out – http://www.bikequarterly.com/
Providentially, the Times Union chose Sunday, May 5, the day of Albany’s 3rd Annual Bicycle EXPO 2013 to run an AP story on NYC’s long awaited (and Sandy delayed) bike share program. Scheduled to begin this month, the scheme will feature 6,000 3-speed bicycles and 330 docking stations. Planned growth will be to 10,000 cycles with 600 stations.
According to the report, there are 534 bike share programs worldwide. Follow the link to red more . . .
On the home front at the Bicycle EXPO, Albany’s own Kate Lawrence from the Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability appeared in a Times Union (5/6/13) photo story. Cyclists are shown being briefed on Albany’s Bicycle Master Plan (see Map 1, pg. 5).
The Mayor’s Office of Energy and Sustainability was responsible for applying for and receiving designation in 2012 of Albany as a bicycle friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. While Albany, with an honorable mention, does not appear in LAB’s current bronze-silver-gold-platinum listings, it is still in an elite group as there are only two cities, NYC and Rochester, in the rankings. This leaves NYS as a dismal 43 out of 50 states with only one way to go – up.
The Washington Ave. Flyover and Related work is complete. Two cyclists gave their opposing thoughts on the results. What are yours?
From a Daily Washington Ave. Extension Commuter – I am VERY deeply concerned. I suspect it is going to force me to change my route entirely to avoid it. I go west on Washington. If I take the flyover, I have cars and garbage trucks coming onto Washington westbound at 55 mph on my right on the on-ramp from Fuller while I am stuck between them and the other traffic doing 55 mph on my left. This is almost certain death. If I get off Washington before the flyover and go down the ramp, around the circle, and back up the ramp, I have to assert my right-of-way over the commuters coming south on Fuller Rd. and into the circle while I’m there. This also strikes me as a death-defying experience. I cannot say for sure because I have not tried it yet, but I expect this whole thing is going to be a HUGE disaster for my commute. I think the design is terrible for cyclists and sets us back instead of moving us forward. It makes one more place no normal cyclist will ever dare go.
From an Experienced Road Cyclist – I took a ride . . . through the university and along Washington Ave. Extension. I do like the new configuration at Fuller Road. It was easy to do the traffic circle and then the flyover. The condition of the road surface at that intersection is much improved, needless to say. And I do like traffic circles. I think they are fun and despite what others think, I say safer. Traffic certainly does need to slow down in order to negotiate and this seems to give equal advantage to the cyclist. [The result] could be cumulative as numbers of cyclists increase.
You can’t get anything past me. Okay so maybe you can, but as soon as traffic cones it the pavement I am on it.
Check out this video and then come back.
I know right! They are finally starting construction on the pothole filled, broken pavement riddled, flip your bike over monster that is Fuller Rd. Also did you notice in the video that the words “bike lane” came up. I can’t confirm any of this, and I put a call into the Department of Public Works and the news organization that ran the story for more info since I checked their website and it has not been updated in a while. In fact it says that construction was not to begin until November. So keep your fingers crossed that we come out on top with this one. If anything I am glad that they are going to fix the potholes.
Written by Chris Belsole