Bicycle Bozo of the Year Award ~ Thomas Barraga

Bicycle Bozo of the Year Award ~ Thomas Barraga

Suburban NY Lawmaker: Ban Bicycling on Long IslandBozo the Clown

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

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Save the Date, 5/4/14

BE13 Save the date for the 4th Annual Bike Expo to be held at the Washington Park Lake House on Sunday,  May 4, 2014. Stay tuned, there’s more to come…….

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Riding in Albany – The Days Are Getting Longer

Since 12/22 marks the beginning of our return to longer, warmer, snow-free days, here are some “riding (and yakking) in Albany” scenes from last August’s “Latino Festival” in Washington Park to keep us all focused.

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Filed under City Review, Events, Local Bike Rides

Chow Down – Cranksgiving 2013

??????????????????????Saturday’s freezing, windy, snowy evening was a good reminder of the plight of those who lack warm clothing, a bicycle, money to feed themselves, and a warm place to which to return after a “night on the streets” of Albany.

Twenty-three riders showed up at 7 PM for 2013’s Cranksgiving Alley Cat “race” – an international event that gives riders a chance to have some fun while helping others.

Armed with shiny new spoke cards, we started with a quick run from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Washington Park to the Price Chopper on Madison and then returned to the Monument for a new manifest. The “A manifest” riders collected canned goods and extras. The “B” riders carried a juice/soda from each stop and the other extras. (We even hit a 2-for-1 special on potato chips.)

Snow flurries with 20-degree temperatures were augmented by a steady west wind as we then headed straight into the wind and snow toward the Westgate Plaza and Colvin Ave. for combined stops (thank you Jay and Stacy for combining these) at Hannaford and Price Chopper. While still freezing and with some slippery spots on the pavement, it was back to the Monument to unload and pick up the last manifest for a short crosswind ride to the Delaware Ave. Price Chopper. Riders assembled at the Madison Café at Swan to complete filling the boxes and then helping load the Homeless Action Committee (HAC) van. We had seven large size boxes plus two more in Stacy’s truck for later drop off. The average spent was $19 which equals $437 or about 200 lbs of food donated to HAC. Many hands make light work!Comp

Our ride leaders presented us each with an embossed Cranksgiving pint glass, a nice memento of a great evening. Everyone had a good time and will hopefully return for next year. It is nice to see riders come out and ride to help those without and recovering from addiction. Riders were indebted to Jay and Stacy for a well-organized event and particularly to Stacy who staffed the pickup vehicle at the Monument. Thanks to everyone. We are always open to ideas and future volunteers for 2014.

At 9 PM, it was time to face the wind again and head back to a warm house.

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Commute by Bicycle – Book Review

The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook* by Robert Hurst would make thoughtful gift for someone contemplating commuting by bicycle. This pocket/purse size book packs a lot of useful information into its 97 pages. However, an urban rider with 5-8 years of experience would enjoy this book as an entertaining refresher with some perhaps new ideas.

The included sections are “Equipment and Clothing,” “Preparation,” “The Ride,” “At Work,” and “Routine Maintenance.”

“Preparation” has some good thoughts on route planning based on different skills and riding preferences. Among tips that would be evident to an experienced rider but valuable to a newcomer is the observation that the most important ingredient for a bicycle friendly street is the attitude of the people who use it. Street features the author recommends avoiding include high traffic speeds, on-street parking, time-sapping traffic signals, oblivious pedestrians, interstate entrance/exit ramps, high schools(!), damaged road surfaces, and bad attitude or “street vibe.”Bicycle Commuter's Handbook 2013

Again for the prospective commuter, “The Ride” section has a number of tips to avoid trouble – better to read about them and be prepared rather than to discover that, for example, longitudinal cracks can get you in trouble.

One not so obvious observation in the “At Work” section is the attitude about cycling and cyclists commonly held by one’s non-cycling co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors. While the experienced cyclist already will have experienced this phenomenon, it might be “news” to the budding commuter the first time she clumps into the office in helmet with a messenger bag. The author notes that the USA never had a bicycle commuter culture, so forewarned is forearmed.

One helpful section covers diagnosing (and correcting) bicycle fit issues by the nature of the pain experienced. This and other straightforward bicycle fit tips are a break from what one might have read in articles that are more “technical.”

Overall, this is a nice little book – well written and well organized.

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*Hurst, Robert, The Bicycle Commuter’s Handbook, (Guilford, CT), 2013, ISBN 978-0-7627-8468-4, US$12.95.

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Filed under Bike Tech, Comings and Goings