“No One Who Lives in Our Community Should Ever Ride a Bike” – American Politician

Readers — This is just outrageous. I’m cutting and pasting from the site People for Bikes. In truth, riding bikes in urban areas scares ME, but that doesn’t mean I am against it. It just means that we should work even harder to make biking SO COMMON that when some politician says, “It’s just too dangerous to ride bikes,” the whole town tells him to quit thinking car-first! Why should a community only be safe for one particular form of transportation?

Anyway, in this post, the wonderful comments in bold aren’t mine, but I wish they were. They’re from the People for Bikes site, which writes:

After four of his classmates and his mother were all hit by cars while out biking or walking, 17-year-old Matthew Cutrone wrote a letter to his county legislators asking for safer roads. Suffolk County (NY) Legislator Thomas Barraga responded with a letter shared by Matthew’s mother and posted below, stating that “no one who lives in our hamlet or for that matter in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle.” Get a load of this (our thoughts in bold):

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. [But don’t worry, I’ll tell you later about “false hope,” so just take this with a grain of salt.]

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 mean, hell, let’s just rule out anything with wheels that isn’t a car.] 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. [Wait…really? 9 out of 10 people that you know who ride bikes get hit by a car? How is this not a major epidemic?!? PEOPLE ARE DYING HERE! COME ON, MAN!]

Read the rest HERE.  – L.

Guess where this city isn't? That's right -- American. (It's Copenhagen.)

Guess where this city isn’t? That’s right — America. (It’s Copenhagen.)

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62 Responses to “No One Who Lives in Our Community Should Ever Ride a Bike” – American Politician

  1. SOA February 18, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Seriously!? I have had that attitude about walking directed at us. Cars get annoyed they have to wait for us to cross in front of them before they can right on red and I have almost been hit more times than I can count on two hands.

    If you bike, walk, skateboard, etc safely than it should not be a problem. Same with the drivers. If they drive safely it should not be a problem with sharing the road with bikers, pedestrians, etc.

    Everyone needs to just think of others and be aware of surroundings and be safe and it would work out.

  2. Lola February 18, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    “The Suffolk County Authorities warn that riding this bike may be hazardous for your health”.

  3. Ravana February 18, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    This is, unfortunately, not unusual. When folks by me requested a zebra crosswalk be added to a dangerous crossing by a public library the request was denied because “If pedestrians had a zebra crosswalk there, they would assume that the cars would stop for them and more people would get run over.” Well, yes, they would assume cars would stop for them SINCE THAT IS THE LAW!!!

  4. BL February 18, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    What does West Islip look like? Wall-to-wall four-lane highways?

    I’d hate to think how this guy would react to the place where I live. We have to watch for Amish buggies on the road.

  5. Mark Roulo February 18, 2014 at 10:13 am #

    Alternately, the guy is “calling it like he sees it”:

    Newsday recently reported that the cycling crash rate death on Long Island far exceeds that of New York City, Connecticut and New Jersey. Since 2005 a total of 64 People have been killed in cycling crashes in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Suffolk County continues to be more dangerous with a cycling death rate more than double the New York State average. The rates also remain high in Suffolk County due to the number of Hispanic immigrants of lower incomes who can’t afford cars and utilize bicycles to get to and from work. In fact, 43% of the documented nationalities of death victims were Hispanic.

    Long Island lacks wide shouldered lanes and marked bike lanes adding to the high rate of crashes. Lack of visibility of cyclists also adds to the high rate of crashes. A high number of accidents appear to occur between 7 and 11 PM. According to a Suffolk County Detective who investigates bike accidents, the most common excuse for the driver striking the cyclist is that they simply did not see them.

    http://www.newyorkbikelawyer.com/Bike-Crashes/Long-Island-Cycling-Crashes.aspx

    Unless/until they can restructure things (wider roads, etc.) my guess is that more cyclist just equal more dead cyclists.

    Now *I* am not super concerned about 64 dead folks out of 1.5M over 8 years … but this does work out to 8 dead/year (and at this rate it would be ~ 8×200 = 1,600/year nationwide) and probably multiples of that crunched but not dead.

    Some places just aren’t set up for bicycles (e.g. narrow, twisty roads on hill with no shoulder). We have one of those near where I live. The bicyclists love it for the weekends. The cars can’t see the bicyclists. And there isn’t anywhere to go if something goes wrong. We lost one a year ago where the car and the bicycle attempted to share the same space because the car couldn’t see around the corner. In *theory* the cars could drive at 4 MPH on the 30 MPH road. But they don’t. And every so often they overtake a bicycle and can’t stop in time.

    What is un-free-range about pointing out that a given area may be unsafe for bicycles?

  6. BL February 18, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    How many people know that paved roads were originally built for cycling, not motoring, in both the US and UK?

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/bike-blog/2011/aug/15/cyclists-paved-way-for-roads

  7. Cynthia February 18, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    I will echo what other commenters have already said. Except when weather conditions are involved, accidents on the road usually happen when a driver, motorcyclist, cyclist or pedestrian isn’t following the rules of the road or are travelling in an unsafe manner. I cycled through the busiest roads in Toronto in the 90s and beyond and had 2 minor accidents. I rode into a car door that opened suddenly but I knew enough to go slow when passing stopped vehicles with a driver inside in case this happened so I didn’t get hurt badly. My bike handle on the other hand didn’t fare so well.

    As a driver, it always annoys me when other drivers and cyclists do not signal when turning. I cannot read minds folks and cannot always react quickly to sudden stops or marked changes in speed. I remember getting educated in safe cycling habits in primary school back in the 70s and 80s. My parents were immigrant non-cyclists so it was an invaluable lesson for me.

    Yes, cars sharing the road with cyclists need not be a dangerous thing if we are all educated on and follow the rules of the road. Plus it’s great exercise and good for the environment.

  8. Obi-Wandreas February 18, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    I spent a large part of my youth riding bikess, and probably will do so again once my kids are bigger (currently 2 & 5 years old).

    As such, it drives me nuts when I see cars and bikes behaving recklessly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen cars using bike lanes as driving lanes, especially for turning. On the other hand, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have seen a bicycle actually stop for a stop sign. A few months ago, while turning at a green arrow, I had to slam on the brakes and came within inches of smashing the empty skull of a cyclist who as crossing against the red light and came out from behind a row of cars without looking.

    Those who wish to use the roads should do so, according to the rules of the road, and being mindful of others. It took me very little time as a bicyclist to realize that some roads were simply not designed for bikes, and alternate routes were available. Anyone else needs to just hire a driver to take them everywhere, because in my experience such dolts can’t even be trusted to walk without causing problems for others.

  9. Emma February 18, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Wait a second. The letter says that drivers ignore 135 signs on the road. Isn’t this more of a problem of drivers not adhering to traffic signs, instead of a problem of people trying to be active, eco, and have fun?

    Wow, how narrow minded!!!

  10. Mark Roulo February 18, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    “The letter says that drivers ignore 135 signs on the road. Isn’t this more of a problem of drivers not adhering to traffic signs…”

    Without context, we don’t know what this means. Are there 135 stop signs that the cars ignore (which I doubt)? Or are there 135 signs that say “share the road”?

    My experience has been that drivers are a *LOT* better than cyclists about things such as not running red lights and stop signs, driving on the right hand side of the road, etc. This may just be where I live.

  11. Brian Ristuccia February 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    Obi-Wandreas: Nearly every state requires drivers to make right turns from the right edge of the road, even if the edge is a preferential use lane (like bikes-only, bus-only, or carpool-only). Merging into a right-edge bike lane before turning right reduces the risk of a crash from right turning traffic crossing straight through bike traffic, commonly referred to as a “right hook”.

  12. lollipoplover February 18, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    If 90 percent of bikers and motorcyclists are being hit by cars resulting in serious physical injury, West Islip should be funding transportation improvements (bike paths) with it’s tax dollars to keep its citizens safe.
    To admit to such a horrible statistic and accept it and not try to improve it shows a lack of regard to the community that chooses alternate transportation instead of cars and trucks. Pedestrians, bikers, and motorcyclists have a rights to be safe on the road too. Maybe Mr. Barraga can head a Bikes and Trails Safety Committee to deal with this dreadful safety issue in Suffolk County, New York and get tax dollars devoted to transportation improvements to save the bikers and motorcyclists from physical injury. To not do otherwise is irresponsible.

  13. Warren February 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

    The way I see it, he has admitted there is a serious problem causing risk of injury and life in his jurisdiction. He also admits that he will do nothing about it.

    Perfectly reasonable to call for his resignation. Total disregard for those he is supposed to represent.

  14. Jenny Islander February 18, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    I am so grateful that, recent fufarrah with the local Girl Scouts aside, I live in a pretty darn free-range community. When there was a rash of pedestrians almost getting hit in crosswalks (including my daughter), the city responded by . . . putting up signs in advance of every crosswalk on the main roads that read, “PEDESTRIAN RIGHT OF WAY IS THE LAW.” And they enforce it. It’s hard to get away with almost creaming somebody’s daughter with your dad’s car because you’re too busy yacking to your buddies to notice what you’re doing when the license plate is right there and most people have cell phones these days.

    And when there were problems with cyclists and traffic, they . . . built bike trails. And posted large “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” signs on them. And enforced that too.

  15. E. Simms February 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    What Brian Ristuccia said. However, there is at least one state, Oregon, that prohibits cars from entering the bike lane to make a right turn. If you’re going to be driving or biking in a state you are visiting, it’s best to make yourself familiar with local law.

    @Mark Roulo “What is un-free-range about pointing out that a given area may be unsafe for bicycles?”

    Nothing. Except that you need to consider the *conditions* under which riding a bike is unsafe. I’m pretty sure that if you remove the accidents that occurred in the dark with bicycles that did not have lights, the accident rate would drop dramatically for those riding safely during daylight or at night with proper lighting and reflective gear.

  16. Bob Davis February 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    For more discussion of bicycling on city streets, I recommend the Streetsblog websites. Many, if not most of the people who post there are bicyclists and/or transit users, who decry the “car-centric” conditions in most American cities.
    Also, one of the comments here said “Cars get annoyed”–cars are machines, they cannot have emotions; it’s DRIVERS that get annoyed, and drivers who don’t watch where they’re going and hit pedestrians and cyclists with their cars.

  17. Donna February 18, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    “If 90 percent of bikers and motorcyclists are being hit by cars resulting in serious physical injury, West Islip should be funding transportation improvements (bike paths) with it’s tax dollars to keep its citizens safe.”

    Not necessarily. All he says is 90% of bike riders and motorcyclists are being hit by cars. We have no idea how many people wan to ride bikes or motorcycles in Suffolk County. It could be 10,000. It could be 5. I don’t think it is wise use of limited tax dollars to spend millions to build bike paths for 5 people.

    We also have no idea why these accidents are occurring. If it is like the article Mark Roulo posted and it mostly occurs after dark, maybe the problem is that the bikers are not properly illuminating themselves at night and not that they need bike paths at all.

  18. BL February 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    @Jenny Islander
    “And when there were problems with cyclists and traffic, they . . . built bike trails.”

    Why not build car trails instead?

    Are roads presumptively for cars only? And “trails” are usually things that don’t really go anywhere, the assumption being that cyclists are just out for exercise and never for real transportation.

  19. lollipoplover February 18, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    “And when there were problems with cyclists and traffic, they . . . built bike trails. And posted large “NO MOTOR VEHICLES” signs on them. And enforced that too.”

    Yes, this.
    My kids bike to school and don’t have bus service. When they told them to walk and bike, kids were being told to take a narrow road with no sidewalks. Parents asked for a traffic study and it resulted in required improvements to the proposed walker/biker routes. School district had to pay for bike paths, sidewalks, and drainage if they still wanted to not pay for busing. They’ve been walking the route through this snowy winter but can’t wait to get back on bikes…so much faster.

    Fixing problems is why we elect public officials, isn’t it?
    And this reply reads “I tell these silly bikers not to ride and they don’t listen” like if they only listened to his advise, they’d be fine. Now if HE only listened to THEM when they complained about bikers getting hit by cars…

  20. John February 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    And we wonder why America has an obesity epidemic with our adults AND children.

  21. Papilio February 18, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Yay Lenore, for bringing this up despite scary NYC cyclists!
    And the answer here is Sustainable Safety (http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2010/01/sustainable-safety.html). Acknowledging that people will always make mistakes and sometimes misbehave, and then design the road in such a way that the consequences are minimal for both their own safety AND that of more vulnerable road users. That’s why the Dutch traffic fatality rate is half that of the USA (imagine the amount of lives that could be saved by getting the US rate down to the Dutch level!). That’s why Dutch pedestrians and cyclists are the safest in the world – despite the high numbers of elderly and children among them.
    (Sorry – it’s the truth.)

    Re red running: That has a LOT to do with infrastructure that isn’t made for cyclists. Loops under the road surface to trigger a green light don’t detect them because they’re too light, green waves work with the average speed of cars, et cetera. Motorists stop and go often too, but for them it’s a matter of hitting the brake and then the gas. Cyclists on the other hand have to build up speed using their own energy – which is all lost when they have to stop. That makes their journeys slower and more inefficient than necessary, so no wonder that cyclists under these circumstances seek ways to not lose that energy. It’s like making pedestrians wait 3,5 minutes to cross 1 (complicated, but still) intersection: many of them will get impatient and attempt to cross earlier. That is just human behavior. No-one likes to wait long. (And keep in mind that the few people who dare to cycle at all are often young fit males: testosteron…) Good cycling infrastructure seeks to make cyclists stop as little as possible.

    Re right hooks: So, the USA does not have this rule that traffic going straight on on the same road has priority over turning traffic (that leaves that road)?

  22. SKL February 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    So funny. He’s going to have a hard time living that one down. :)

  23. Steve February 18, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Riding a bike is something I like to do. But so is staying alive.

    Lots of fatalities where a bicycle-rider gets injured or killed results from the driver or the cyclist not paying attention to his surroundings. Too many cyclists take for granted that OTHERS will watch out of them. How reasonable is that? Same thing happens at crosswalks. ( Never assume you are safe in a crosswalk! )

    Personally, I think since bikes can go where autos can’t — rational cyclists have the option to steer out of trouble and stay where cars are not likely to drive — Those who get hit are making “irrational assumptions” that drivers of cars will always watch the road, always be aware, always do the right thing.

    Cars crash into other cars all the time, and those passengers supposedly protected “inside the car” often get killed. So, what can a cyclist expect without a protective shell surrounding him?

    We all know that cars get hit from behind frequently. But at least there’s a protective shell. Do cyclists really think it’s reasonable to think they will never get hit?

    Now for those who actually believe biking with traffic can be completely safe, let’s have a painted lane in the middle of the street for mothers with strollers, and next to them a lane for people in wheelchairs. How reasonable is that?

  24. Steve Cournoyer February 18, 2014 at 3:05 pm #

    What would one expect from a politician from the Nanny State?

  25. BL February 18, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    @Steve
    “Personally, I think since bikes can go where autos can’t — rational cyclists have the option to steer out of trouble and stay where cars are not likely to drive”

    Like sidewalks? Well, bikes are generally legally banned from sidewalks because there are pedestrians there.

  26. Steve February 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Re:

    BL said:

    @Steve
    “Personally, I think since bikes can go where autos can’t — rational cyclists have the option to steer out of trouble and stay where cars are not likely to drive”

    Like sidewalks? Well, bikes are generally legally banned from sidewalks because there are pedestrians there.

    ————————————–

    Sidewalks are only off limits to bicycles in certain cities. Many towns do not prohibit bikes on side walks. In my own mid-sized city, the only bike prohibition is in the center of downtown. They’re legal everywhere else. But I’ll admit some city governments say bicycles MUST always ride with auto traffic, which I think is not just wrong, but evil. Any city official who expects people to ride bikes in auto traffic is probably also making other harmful decisions.

    And the only people who think pedestrians walk on sidewalks live in large cities with busy downtowns like New York or San Francisco. Oh sure, sometimes you’ll see an occasional person walking on a sidewalk, but it’s an uncommon event.

    I realize some areas don’t have a safe place for cyclists to ride. But, when I said “bikes can go where autos can’t” I was thinking of dodging an obstacle by steering between trees or parked cars, or down into a ditch or gully, up the other side, perhaps next to a fence, down an alley … or from the shoulder of a road, across a sidewalk into a park, or from a sidewalk into a huge parking lot that takes you to a subdivision with quiet streets. Streets with almost no traffic are safe as long as the cyclist watches where he’s going.
    Cars do have a way of backing out of driveways and hitting cyclists who are day-dreaming.

  27. E. Simms February 18, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    @Paplilio “Re right hooks: So, the USA does not have this rule that traffic going straight on on the same road has priority over turning traffic (that leaves that road)?”

    Think about what a car driver has to watch for when making a right turn. He has to watch for cross traffic passing in front of him, some of whom may be running red lights, and he has to watch for oncoming traffic making left turns in front of him, some of whom may also be running red lights. Add watching out for cyclists approaching from *behind* the driver and you have a recipe for a right hook. It is safer for all concerned for the car to be along side the curb when turning right. On some busier roads there is a right turn lane to the right of the bike lane so that the car driver has to cross the bike lane to get to the right turn lane.

    Well designed bike lanes don’t even continue through intersections. Even if the bike lane does continue through the intersection, I always signal a lane change and switch to the “car” lane just before the intersection. That makes me much more visible and protects me from right hooks.

  28. Suzanne February 18, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

    Oddly this reminds me of the real estate agent who handled our first house purchase. I didn’t drive at the time, so we included good transit access on our list of requirements. She was very enthusiastic about our request but later admitted she’d never taken a bus anywhere and only took the train occasionally. I suspect those who drive everywhere find it hard to empathize with those who walk, bike, take transit etc.

  29. Mark Roulo February 18, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    “Now for those who actually believe biking with traffic can be completely safe, let’s have a painted lane in the middle of the street for mothers with strollers…”

    You probably don’t want to hear this, but … near where I live the moms who go jogging with their kids in a stroller often use the road (where the cars drive) instead of the sidewalk. I asked one once and she said that the ride was smoother …

  30. lollipoplover February 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    Our kids ride to school on the sidewalks away from cars. Since their biggest danger is cars on their commute, keeping them on sidewalks and then onto the bike path is what everyone does. Most towns only ban bikes on sidewalks in the commercial district or center of tow. The occasional pedestrians step aside and let the bikers pass and are happy to see kids biking. There is one woman who stands her ground while walking her dog on the sidewalk and makes the bike line go into the street or around her on the grass but she is well known as the “grouchy” lady but it’s not a problem.

  31. Emily February 18, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

    Maybe if there were bike lanes, there’d be less car traffic in good weather, because people would feel more comfortable riding their bikes if there were designated, safe lanes for this purpose. I mean, obviously people with cars would still use them for grocery shopping, long trips, etc., but I’m talking about things like commuting to and from work and school, or running to the store for a loaf of bread, or taking the family out for a picnic in the park.

  32. bmj2k February 18, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    And like anything else a politician outright lies about, no one challenges him on it. But at least the public has the good sense to ignore him on this.

  33. Vanessa February 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    We have neighbors that can’t stand the kids riding their bikes in our neighborhood and we live in the very bike-friendly city of Minneapolis. They are SURE they will get hit by a car. I can only imagine what they think of my bike commuter husband.

  34. CrazyCatLady February 18, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    “And the only people who think pedestrians walk on sidewalks live in large cities with busy downtowns like New York or San Francisco. Oh sure, sometimes you’ll see an occasional person walking on a sidewalk, but it’s an uncommon event.”

    I am not sure where you live, but the places that I have and do live, people walk, all the time. My current school district requires kids to walk to school. There are people who do not have cars, or only one. Driving through Richland, WA, Santa Cruz, CA, Bozeman, MT, and Chestertown MD, you will see people walking. Some of these places are also college towns…which means poor students with no cars. The sidewalks are used more than you are thinking.

  35. Dee February 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Unbelievable! The way he talks about West Islip you would think it was a major urban area. Here in New Orleans, we’ve had challenges with bicyclists getting hit, so we’ve done tons of things to change it (through our Regional Transportation Association). Bike lanes and other road improvements, yes, but more importantly major education campaigns including the most recent featuring the 610 Stompers (Google them, you’ll be glad you did). Now, I’m still a sissy and don’t bike much on major roads, but as a country, we should be moving more towards this!

  36. Kimberly Herbert February 18, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    When I was in elementary school, the major streets in the Memorial Villages (part of Houston) only had a narrow bike lane – not much wide than a bike.

    I was knocked into a deep ditch, when bullies threw stuff from the passing school bus. Mr. Murphy stopped the bus and traffic to help me out of the ditch. A neighbor had also seen what happened and walked me home. I was banged up and my bike wheel had to be replaced.

    From that the parents on our street started a drive to solve 2 problems. Street flooding and No proper hike and bike trail. The ditches were dug out and replace with colverts (Piping) with much more capacity. The new flat land was then paved with a hike and bike trail with a nice space between the heavy car traffic and the people on foot and bikes.

  37. Emily February 18, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

    @Kimberley–That’s great that your fall precipitated such a change, but it’s really too bad that it took such a thing in order to get a safer hiking and biking lane put in. Also, I’m just curious–what happened to the bullies on the bus? Were they disciplined, or did the school just turn a blind eye to it? I mean, that’s what knocked you off your bike; the bullies throwing things. If they hadn’t been throwing things from the bus, you would have made it safely home, and none of that would have happened.

  38. KH February 18, 2014 at 11:54 pm #

    A few days ago I was reading about how jaywalking became a crime– there really was a concentrated PR campaign by automakers in the mid 1920’s that got people to accept that roads are only for cars….

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26073797

  39. Steve February 19, 2014 at 12:11 am #

    CrazyCatLady said:

    “I am not sure where you live, but the places that I have and do live, people walk, all the time…Some of these places are also college towns.”

    I’m glad you mentioned college towns.

    Yes, of course you see people walking on or near a college campus, especially a large university. But go out a mile or two away from campus, and you’ll see very few walkers. I didn’t mean you “never” see people walking on sidewalks. I over-stated my observation to make a point. To be more precise I should have said: since sidewalks are rarely packed with pedestrians, (unless they are near a popular venue), they are still good places to bike and walk in most communities.

    Google “campus bus route.” See all the universities that have regular buses that serve the student community making it easy to avoid walking or biking. Why walk or bike when you can just sit? I used to do that myself.

    My wife and I were walking around the residential areas of Berkeley, Ca. last year and we saw few other walkers. If you use Google Maps in street view, you can look at many cities and see how few people are using the sidewalks. You also don’t see many bikes.

    You mentioned: “My current school district requires kids to walk to school.” Do those kids have much competition from “non-school-people” using the sidewalks?

  40. mobk February 19, 2014 at 12:14 am #

    “it drives me nuts when I see cars and bikes behaving recklessly.”

    False equivalence. Cars (drivers) behaving recklessly is likely to lead to dead car drivers, dead passengers, dead pedestrians, dead cyclists etc. Bikes (riders) behaving recklessly at worst ensure their own demise.

    Since an automobile is much more likely to kill someone else than a bicycle, drivers have a higher standard of responsibility than cyclists. This is reflected in laws – driving an automobile nearly always requires a licence, riding a bicycle – rarely.

  41. lollipoplover February 19, 2014 at 8:24 am #

    My oldest was asked to look over a younger neighbor who wanted to bike to school and he said yes but had some concerns with crossing the road with the younger ones. Before school started, he and his friends biked over to our township building with a letter he wrote (and pictures of the intersections) asking for crosswalks. All of the kids he knew signed the letter (including the kindergarteners). The township supervisor called him the next day to thank him for his request. They painted the crosswalks within the week. He now refers to the painted lines as “his” crosswalks.

    Now my neighbor called the township several years ago to complain about speeders on a road that is heavily traveled by students and asked if they could look into speed bumps. They told her no because the speed bumps confuse the drunk drivers and can be dangerous for them. True story.

  42. anonymous mom February 19, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    This is completely ridiculous. It also ignores the fact that many people bike for transportation, not pleasure or exercise. We live less than 2 miles from our workplace. Weather permitting, my husband nearly always bikes to work, and when I’m teaching during the day, I’ll generally bike. It saves us time we’d spend if we were walking and money we’d spend if we were driving and parking. Many people in our city choose to bike, especially since public transit is horrible and parking is often expensive or difficult.

    I do think there are valid safety concerns around biking, just because of the speed difference between bikes and cars when they are sharing the same portion of road, but the solution seems to be creating bike lanes where needed, not scaring people away from riding bikes.

  43. Gravy February 19, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    Lenore, Are you going to address the little 10 year old girl who was abducted by a stranger and killed in Springfield, MO? She was walking to her friends house. You and your followers claim that the risk of abductions by strangers isn’t high enough to take heed. You slam “helicopter” parents because they see the risk of abduction and murder for their children as too high. You are basically encouraging parents to make their child the one that gets abducted. I hope that we find out that her parents followed your teachings and the media slams you for encouraging parents to be neglectful.

  44. E. Simms February 19, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    @Steve “Why walk or bike when you can just sit?”

    I know you were likely being facetious, but that attitude is why our society is becoming obese. The solution to obesity isn’t to make extra time to go to the gym or to drive to a park to jog or work out, even though there is nothing wrong with those things. The solution is to incorporate exercise in to our daily lives. Why drive to a grocery store a ten minute walk away to buy a carton of milk and a pound of ground turkey? Why spend thirty minutes waiting for the bus and sitting on the bus when the walk will take only twenty minutes?

  45. Steve February 19, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    Gravy.

    You obviously haven’t read Lenore’s book: FREE RANGE KIDS.
    Do yourself a favor and find a copy. Your ability to assess risk isn’t working. Life is not 100% safe.

    Do you realize Polly Klass, Elizabeth Smart, Megan Kanka, and others were abducted from their homes? Does this mean you are sitting up all night in your son or daughter’s bedroom to make sure your child is not going to be abducted?

  46. lollipoplover February 19, 2014 at 11:21 am #

    @Gravy-

    She also didn’t report on the 3 children killed in PA yesterday in 3 separate house fires. I WISH we could prevent all deaths in children (and kidnappings too) but it’s not simple or easy to prevent every death. Or place blame on parents and call them neglectful if something bad happens to their child. We can only prepare and empower our kids to better handle adversity, not think we have super powers as parents to stop anything from ever happening. Good luck with that.

  47. Emily February 19, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

    @E. Simms–I agree with you, somewhat. In good weather, a 20-minute walk is no big deal; even pleasant. On a day when it’s -20 C or colder outside (common, for Canadian winters, as Warren can vouch for as well), it’s a completely different story. The same applies if you’re carrying a heavy load, like say, groceries, a full backpack full of school books, a large musical instrument, a pre-ambulatory child, or an animal in a carrier going to and from the vet. So, I don’t think the answer is to eliminate buses (after all, public transit causes less pollution than private cars, although not ZERO pollution like bicycles or walking), but rather, to make walking and biking feasible for those who wish to do so. It won’t mean that everyone will immediately start walking and riding bikes instead of taking the bus or driving, but it will encourage more people to walk and bike. Eliminating bus service wouldn’t encourage more walking and biking either; it’d just lead to an increase in cars driven by those who can afford cars, and unfairly punish those who can’t. I can’t afford a car (although I have a driver’s license), and I’d be mightily ticked off if public transit was eliminated or reduced for “environmental reasons.” I’m a big supporter of exercise too–in fact, I’m a yoga teacher. But, the fact remains that the gym where I teach yoga would probably take almost an hour to walk to from my house, while the bus ride there is under ten minutes. Many other people are in the same boat, so eliminating buses would be a severe detriment to people who either can’t afford cars, or can’t drive.

  48. EricS February 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    Well, for one thing, that idiot looks like Cane from “Poltergeist 2″. lol Just going by this complete fool’s reply letter, he clearly is pro-car, and anti-bicycle or motorcycle (even pedestrians who choose to walk). And that he doesn’t understand anything about the rules of the road. Perhaps, he should start thinking that the cyclists and motorcycle riders aren’t the issue. It’s the cars who ARE NOT paying attention to signs and the road. Maybe, just maybe, ENFORCING stiffer penalties and consequences to drivers will help in getting them to be smarter and attentive behind the wheel.

    Time for a new County Legislator that uses common sense and logic to come up with solutions. Not some moron with a half ass, biased view on the matter. And yes, bicycle lanes would go a long way in moving forward to a solution. The county probably doesn’t want to spend the money on safety (they have personal things to buy with the money they save). And Barraga is their pitbull to make it happen.

  49. E. Simms February 19, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    @Emily

    Please reread my post. I was not advocating eliminating public transportation. I was merely providing two examples of how we can incorporate exercise in our daily lives. Even though I own a car, I still use walking, biking and public transportation for a good seventy percent of my daily trips.

  50. EricS February 19, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    @Mark Roulo: As a driver, one needs to know the rules of the road. And behind the wheel, all they should be paying attention to is the road, and anything on the road. No such things as accidents. Most “accidents” are driver error. Meaning they weren’t paying attention, and/or going to fast. With the collisions and fatalities in Suffolk County, you’d think drivers and cyclists a like would pay more mind on the road. But now, people are to consumed in their own selfish wants, they ignore everything and everyone else. It’s not the bikes, and it’s not the cars that make the roads their dangerous, it’s the people who chose to ignore that do. Be it a motorist, cyclist, pedestrian, or a politician. They are at fault for being ignorant.

    @Cynthia: I agree 100% I am a driver, a motorcycle rider, a cyclist and a pedestrian. I’ve seen all sides and what happens when people don’t pay attention to what they are doing. I will also admit, on the odd occassion, that I have been the one not fully paying attention because I allowed myself to be distracted. And I’ve paid for it, as a driver, motorcycle rider, cyclist and pedestrian. But as I got older, my attention became more focused at the task at hand. And I can happily say I rarely ever get distracted anymore. And I’ve been able to avoid collisions. You can’t always predict what people are going to do on the road, but as long as you are paying attention to what you are doing, you can anticipate situations. Minimizing or all together avoiding and mishap.

  51. longtime_cyclist February 19, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    I have abandoned bike trails for the safer streets. As a serious cyclist, my average speed is about double that of the so-called “safer” bike trails. If you look at accident rates, the injury rate for a competent cyclist is far great by about 10 to 1 on the path vs. the road. That said, I am in full riding gear including bright clothes, helmet, etc.

    A favorite line came from a professional woman cyclist who once commented, “The ‘cones’ are not too bad today.” When pressed, she responded that at 25 mph, non-professional bike riders, runners, strollers, roller bladers, dogs, etc., were to be treated as semi-stationary objects, ‘cones’ to be avoided as if one were on a slalom course. In my book, slalom with movable objects is not safe.

  52. Papilio February 19, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    “Think about what a car driver has to watch for when making a right turn.”

    In my country: In case of a 32+mph through route with traffic lights: check if the light is green, if yes, quickly see if all the other traffic has indeed cleared the way.
    In case of a 19mph residential street without traffic lights? Look over right shoulder, give priority to any cyclist or pedestrian approaching from behind + going straight on on the same road.
    Plus, rule of thumb: if you can’t oversee the situation, you’re probably driving too fast (regardless of what the speed limit is).

    “Well designed bike lanes don’t even continue through intersections.”

    I beg to differ. The purpose of a cycle lane is to keep cyclists safe from motorized traffic. The greatest danger appears where cyclists and cars cross each other’s paths. Crossing paths happens at intersections. So if a cycle lane does not continue through an intersection, then what’s the point?
    Over here: At the very least there are markings on the road to indicate to motorists that cyclists may cross their path here, plus who has right of way. But in reality traffic lights just give the straight on going cyclists and right turning motorists different phases. Problem solved.

    Again, US roads could be a whole lot safer than they are right now, and cycling can be so much more comfortable, pleasant and quick than it is now. I wish all of your politicians would realize the benefits of cycling and walking, and then actually do the work that’s needed to make it as attractive as possible (and I don’t mean ban all cars). I foresee less car use and therefore less car accidents (and all the consequences of those), less congestion, less pollution, less noise, less health problems so less sick days, less oil import, less money needed to maintain roads, less need to build more motorways, MORE freedom for anyone who doesn’t drive, and MORE free time for parents who now use to ferry their kids around… Did I forget anything?

  53. Captain America February 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

    What the heck’s a “suffolk county legislator”?

    Is that another word for county board member?

    If so, I’m not surprised. To get elected to the county board, you generally need to stay put in one place for 30 years, have coffee around town, join the American Legion, etc. In my experience in Illinois, county board members are frequently far less knowledgeable about the world outside the county lines than their constituents. These are the guys who graduated high school, maybe did the Army, then returned to work at the plant/shop/car place.

  54. Papilio February 19, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    On bike lanes and intersections: THIS would be a major step forward:
    http://www.protectedintersection.com/

  55. LRothman February 19, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    @Gravy:

    The risk of a child being murdered by a PARENT is MUCH higher than by a stranger. Using your logic, it would sensible for no parent to ever leave their child alone with the other parent.

    The risk of a child dying in a car accident is MUCH higher than by being murdered by a stranger – and we all know that walking or biking is deadly, so I guess if you aren’t a “negligent parent,” you must never let your childen out of the house. Oh, wait, the chances of a child dying from an accident in their own home is much higher than of being murdered by a stranger, too.

  56. dancing on thin ice February 19, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

    When I was younger, I biked 12 miles to the nightclub I worked at. It was faster during drive time when I had to be in early.
    I waited an hour or so after closing to give the drivers a chance to run into each other instead of me. In winter, I handled a coating of snow better than the motor vehicles. (At least until it piled up.)

  57. delurking February 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    The fact that there is an idiotic politician around, especially at the county level, is not particularly surprising.

    The facts speak for themselves. On a time basis, cycling is about the same risk as driving. On a distance basis, cycling is about twice as dangerous as driving (because bicycles move slower than cars). This is clearly within a reasonable range, since the majority of the cycling deaths occur to cyclists at night without lights or traveling down the wrong side of the street.

  58. E. Simms February 19, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    @Papilio “So if a cycle lane does not continue through an intersection, then what’s the point?”

    The point is to keep cyclists separated between intersections to eliminate the need for dangerous passing. Go to any US bicycle safety site, like this one http://bicyclesafe.com/, and you’ll see that right hooks in intersections are one of the top dangerous situations for cyclists. Cyclists can’t depend on drivers to look out for them. We have to look out for ourselves.

    “Over here: At the very least there are markings on the road to indicate to motorists that cyclists may cross their path here, plus who has right of way. But in reality traffic lights just give the straight on going cyclists and right turning motorists different phases. Problem solved.”

    I don’t know where you live, but in the US cyclists and motorists do not get different light phases. I’m not saying that doesn’t exist anywhere in the US, but it would be an extreme rarity. For my personal safety, I will not put myself to the right of a car that could turn right without looking or signaling. Motorists may be extremely law abiding and attentive where you live, but that is not the case in the US.

  59. Andy February 20, 2014 at 5:03 am #

    @E. Simms “Cyclists can’t depend on drivers to look out for them.” and “Think about what a car driver has to watch for when making a right turn.”

    That is reason why car drivers have go through driving lessons and guided drives before being given license. As a driver, you are supposed to look whether the road is free or not before turning.

    In here, it is even possible that pedestrians will be there crossing the road you are turning to – legally and cars are supposed to slow down and look.

    Bicycle lane ending at intersection seems ridiculous to me. It is like putting “kids not allowed” sign at crossing next to school, because kids are more likely to get hit there then elsewhere. The solution is to put there “careful – kids” sign.

    The driver may miss cyclist on unusual road, I get that human brain makes mistakes. But, if there is a bicycle lane right to car, the driver should have brain to guess cyclist might be there.

  60. baby-paramedic February 20, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    To go home I have to make my way up a windy mountain path, only a few miles in length. There is no where to pull over. And for some reason packs of bike riders seem to adore the “challenge” of the mountain.
    It adds about 30mins to my drive time when they have decided today is a fine day for a ride. Which when I’ve just had a shift blow out to 14hrs, and a long drive home, makes me cranky.
    (I also dislike when I am going around the corner and don’t see them until I am almost on top of them. Cue heavy braking).

    Despite my intense dislike of being stuck behind the pack, and of bike riders in general on main roads… I don’t think they should not be there! (I just wish they had to pass a license exam too!)

  61. Papilio February 20, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    @E Simms: Have you seen that protected intersection I linked to? What do you think?

    “The point is to keep cyclists separated between intersections to eliminate the need for dangerous passing. Go to any US bicycle safety site, like this one http://bicyclesafe.com/, and you’ll see that right hooks in intersections are one of the top dangerous situations for cyclists.”
    I KNOW a right hook is one of the biggest dangers for cyclists, that is also what kills most cyclists in London and Copenhagen, because they’re either building no infrastructure or rubbish infrastructure (which includes stuff the Dutch built in the 1980’s and then ripped out again to replace with something safer). Which is why a *well designed* bike lane definitely should continue through them. But I think we actually agree on that?

    “I don’t know where you live, but in the US cyclists and motorists do not get different light phases. I’m not saying that doesn’t exist anywhere in the US, but it would be an extreme rarity.”

    I live in the #1 cycling country in the world: The Netherlands. I knew cyclists don’t get their own traffic light phases in the USA, but was actually shocked to find out that traffic lights only have two different phases that allow a great deal of conflict, even with pedestrians! That is just primitive!

    “Motorists may be extremely law abiding and attentive where you live, but that is not the case in the US.”

    They are not. That is the mistake in thinking I see people make over and over: the solution is not more training and graver punishments to make people more law abident and attentive, the solution is to design the streets in such a way that it becomes perfectly clear for everyone where they should go, how fast, what they should expect in this street, etc, and minimize the bad consequences that could come from mistakes. Just stopping for a red light is waaay easier than looking over your shoulder to see if a cyclist is coming up from behind. Driving over bricks instead of asphalt is noisier, which makes drivers slow down.
    Nice quote: “If we calculate the rate per 1000 people, the Dutch fatality rate is now only 40% of the American rate. (…) This means that every six weeks, we could save as many lives as were lost in the 9/11 tragedy!

    @baby-paramedic: :-) I don’t know about your mountain road, but if cyclists are given their own good-quality (!!) space on the road, they don’t need to hold you up anymore…

  62. Tasha Batsford February 24, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Jeez someone had better tell the Dutch … QUICK!