Bicycle Bozo of the Year Award ~ Thomas Barraga
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