Photo c. Road Traffic Signs

Be the change you want to see in this world they said. You can effect change. Send a letter to your congressman. Get out the vote. That’s what they always taught us in school.

So after four friends and his mother (who broke her scapula and helmet in the collision) were hit by negligent drivers, seventeen year old Long Island teenager Matthew Cutrone sent a letter to his County Legislator pleading for more bike lanes .

Hop past the break for the appalling response he received….No Bike Lanes Required

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. 

Very Yours Truly,
Thomas F Barraga
County Legislator

Rather than leaving a vile comment on our website, why don’t you send your thoughts over to the County Legislator first? People for Bikes has made it really easy. Just click here for a pre filled form or send him an email at

Via People for Bikes



  1. This dude Barraga has a wikipedia page. The last paragraph wrapping up his main bio is classic. What a sweet claim to fame buddy.

  2. i think a seperate / colored bike lane is a better sign than those 135 signs already installed. also, the drivers do not seem to be interested in all the scratches and dents in their cars, caused by hitting cyclists. that would be a good campaign. “hello drivers, if you want to avoid damage to your car, do not run over cyclists”

    best quote heard (and billboard material for that matter) of cyclist to driver: “If I make a mistake, I’m dead. If you make a mistake, I’m dead. I’m aware of that. You should be, too”

    glad to live in the netherlands, where bicycle anarchists drive everybody crazy 🙂

  3. How can you be a legislator or a politic and tell stupids things like that….
    We must to totally change our mind and the society rules, if not things will continue to fall down…

  4. I send him this:

    I’m writing you today in response to your statement made here:

    First let me thank you for taking the time to show what backwards views you have in such a public and legally quotable manner.
    It gives me the opportunity to channel my frustration about politicians with a skewed view of reality and an obvious disregard for the health of the populous at you.
    To assume that a bicycle is for “pleasure and exercise” is just stupid, the bike was a form of transportation long before the germans invented the automobile. Not only is it the obviously healthier choice of transportation it is a huge benefit to society if people ride their bikes to the places they need to go, instead of increasing their buttocks-fat-reserves by sitting in a car. Sure there might be some handicapt people who are unable to ride a bike due to physical or mental limitations but I am going to assume you have neither of those limitations and should infect be riding a bike – always.

    Think about your backwards views the next time you sit in the drive-through line at your local fast food place…

  5. So basically what it says is:

    1. It is completely normal to be injured or killed by drivers so deal with it (or drive instead).
    2. We are not going to do anything about it.
    3. You’re a tiny minority (of voters) so we don’t give a sh*t.

  6. Someone at Bike Rumor slipped an April’s fools day joke before time?
    Otherwise, I just can’t believe that a County Legislator can write such a reply.
    Maybe a disgrunted employee in charge of these replys was pissed off enough with Mr. Barraga?

  7. This is pretty disgusting but a common theme, I will say spending some time on the roads in Miami (Which either have marked bike lanes or ample signage to share the road) it is no guarantee of safety.I have seen some really unfortunate accidents down here first hand. The only two times I have been involved in an accident with a car have been while riding in a bike lane or on a bike path. Raising the standard for driving in this country would be a good start to clearing some of the distracted and careless driver, but not going to see it in my lifetime and I’m only 23.

    @Patrick, Political affiliation is by no means an indicator of decency or intelligence. Let’s call this guy what he is, an idiot, and not just a republican.

  8. This is sickening…more so since it’s the town I grew up in. I encourage all to light this guy up on his Facebook page and send in the People for Bikes letter.

  9. Clever. He’s clearly pro-bike, and this is his sly way of getting much more attention on the subject than just about any other means. I guess he could have called all cyclists gay, too, but that might have been over the top.

  10. Holy crap, 90% of people who take up cycling in that town get hit by a car!!!!! Ah, politicians and their complete disregard for statistics.

  11. Why does everyone think Republicans dislike the idea of exercise and conserving energy? I have a hard time believing this letter is true and I believe to be fabricated. Does anyone realize how much more tax dollars would go into expanding streets wide enough for a bike lane *and* the hundreds of gallons of paint it would cost to paint the roads? There’s not a stockpile of money that the city is sitting on like Scrooge McDuck. The funds have already been allocated to maybe a new school, planting more trees (which liberals demand so much of too) and now ridiculing this potentially fabricated letter as truth and an overall opinion of Republicans. Go back to school and learn about taxes.

  12. Send him a letter like I did. Just try your best to keep it productive and not vengeful. Remember you represent cyclist to a political person so keep it focused and not rude… it will make a better impression which is the goal. Spiteful comments are better on cycling only websites where non-cyclist can not see how insanely passionate we are.

  13. “90 percent of those people eventually were hit by an automobile many like your mother with serious physical injuries.” REALLY??? Interesting statistic!!!

    And was no one bothered by the terrible grammar of this letter? Did this fellow ever go to school… how do we elect these idiots?

    “Reality at a time can be difficult for some to come to grips with but giving false hope would be inappropriate. ”

    I had the (false) hope that our elected officials were capable of better than this. Reality sucks.

    I hope the town of West Islip gets wind of this and decides they don’t need someone like this representing them.

  14. Is this a real government type category “suburban automobile community” ?
    He directly says there is a serious problem in that town. “90 percent of those people eventually were hit by an automobile”.
    May be the term should be “visually impaired suburban automobile community”

  15. Here’s mine:

    What kind of idiot do you have to be to think that the solution to the apparently high incidence of bike-car accidents in Suffolk County is for people to stop riding their bikes?!

    Do you not realize that the lifestyle of your constituents is not long for this world? Do you not realize that the only thing keeping this country from significantly higher gas prices is heavy subsidy, and that suburbs like yours will suffer heavily when those subsidies run out, or when gas prices rise so high that the subsidies won’t help? Do you not realize that there is an obesity epidemic in this country, in part stemming from the increasinlgy sedentary lifestyle of our citizens, and particularly our citizens who live in suburbs only nagivable by car? Do you not see that one very effective way to fight back against that epidemic is to encourage healthier lifestyles and more physical activity?

    Do you not know that you owe a duty to the people you represent to protect their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness?

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

  16. “Furthermore, Mr. Cutrone, never leave your house because Suffolk County is a dangerous place. Better yet, if you are a Democract, never ever ever go to a polling station. Those are complete deathtraps.”

  17. “there are currently 135 signs between Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway on Higbie Lane and Udall Road—most of them are ignored by drivers.”

    As county legislator this should be your main concern. No driver pays any attention to the law in his county so best keep off the roads? He categorically states that he is useless/ineffectual at his job!

  18. Patrick, I thought he was a Democrat with your statement. But then again, Democrats and Republicans are the EXACT same party today. If you do not think so, you have been fooled.

  19. My only question for the legislator is that if his town had 135 different speed limit signs installed on a highway and drivers routinely ignored them – even though people were routinely dying because of speeding-induced accidents – would his response be to tell the police to pull out the 135 speed limit signs? Would he just leave the road with no speed limit, drive as fast as you want? Would he say “whatever, it was your choice to be there if a knucklehead comes over the crest of the road in the opposite direction going the wrong way in your lane and hits you at 150 mph head on”?

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the answer is “no”.

  20. so the legislator’s henchmen missed on hitting bicyclists 10% of the time? bet their hit rate is even lower outside Suffolk County where there is more road for the bicyclist to escape to.

  21. @Dutchgirl– So, you “debunk” the notion that exercise and conservation, but then go on to say that planting trees is some liberal idea? I have to think that your response is fabricated as well. Your whole existence is clearly a liberal conspiracy.

    Seriously though, in MI, my governor is really pro- trails and recreation, and sees these things as economic drivers, but I don’t see much support for related issues from the rest of his party, aside from hunting. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say one party is way ahead in these areas. No one has easy answers for how to pay for bike lanes, but everyone should at least care.

  22. Dutch Girl and anyone else doubting the truth of the letter – The letter is real. I’m a cousin of Sandy Cutrone. I grew up in West Islip but now live in Northern California where I am a professionally cycling guide. Long Island Newsday and CBS News have seen the letter, verified its veracity and have published stories regarding this legislators misguided thinking. It’s not a Dem/Pub thing: it’s a public safety thing. Attitudes such as Mr. Barraga’s are very common and it is this type off thinking that stands in the way of progress being made in realizing the goal of safe roads for all. NY DOT rules specifically allow use of most roads by pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles. Why should the rights of cyclists and pedestrians to use the roads safely be secondary to the rights of motorists? We are not second class citizens and we deserve equal protection under the law. It is a shame that a legislator should hold such an arcane attitude, but there it is. Our job now is to use this moment to change how cyclists and pedestrians are perceived and protected.

    As regards taxes, cyclists and pedestrians pay taxes as well. Most cyclists and pedestrians also drive. We pay gas taxes and property taxes and sales taxes and income taxes. The roads and other transportation infrastructure are as much for the use of pedestrians and cyclists as they are for the use of motorists. Do not equate the “inconvenience” of having to be careful about the life of a fellow human being with who pays what tax. That’s just ludicrous.

  23. Folks, I really hope ever one of you who wrote on this post also e-mailed, this Barraga guy with the response. We should have this guy the, … you know what. his little country e-mail box should break from all the mail, coming into it.

What do you think?