West Islip - (WALK) Despite a national backlash of criticism, a county lawmaker continues to peddle his opinion: Suffolk is too dangerous for bicycling and motorcycle riding.
Legislator Thomas Barraga (R-West Islip) made his remarks in a letter to a teen whose mother was struck by a van while riding her bike.
Matthew Cutrone, 17, a senior at West Islip High School, contacted Legislator Barraga to fulfill an assignment in his American government class to write to an elected representative about a topic important to him: making Suffolk safer for cycling.
Cutrone's mother, Sandy Cutrone, was struck while riding on Montauk Highway in the Village of Babylon on September 19 at about 5:30 p.m., according to Suffolk Police.
Barraga reportedly responded with this statement: "My personal feeling is that no one who lives in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle or motorcycle. Suffolk County is a suburban, automobile community; drivers expect to see other drivers on the road, not bicyclists and motorcyclists."
Barraga reportedly began his letter to Matthew Cutrone with a statement of concern about his mother and his wishes for her speedy recovery, but advised all constituents to avoid bicycling on county streets.
Cutrone, 50, a mortgage loan officer, suffered a concussion and a broken collar bone in the collision. She has not worked since and says she is experiencing vision problems. Cutrone told a reporter she would never again vote for Barraga.
New York State Department of Motor Vehicle statistics indicate cycling is a dangerous activity: 388 bicyclists were injured in crashes with vehicles in Suffolk in 2012. Approximately the same number of similar incidents were reported in Nassau. Seven bicyclists were killed in crashes with vehicles in Suffolk and three in Nassau in 2012, the last year with available statistics, according to the DMV.
Photo: (Freewheel) MetaNest