Bikes, whether powered by gas or pedals, remain a complicated issue on our country's roadways. For many motorists, two-wheelers can be a nuisance, whether it be a cyclist holding up traffic on a two-lane road or a motorcyclist weaving between cars, while two-wheeled enthusiasts believe (some would say correctly) that they have as much reason and right to be on the road as automobiles.

The difficult relationship between bikes and cars was brought to a head in Suffolk County, NY, when a 70-year-old member of the county legislature had some tough words in response to a 17-year-old citizen's letter.

Matthew Cutrone, 17, wrote to Suffolk County Legislature member Thomas F. Barraga after his mother was knocked from her bicycle by an inattentive motorist, according to the two-wheeled fanatics at Visordown. In his letter, Cutrone suggested "there should be some sort of bike lane or maybe just some warning signs," to make things safer for bike riders. Sounds like a reasonable request, right? Not to Barraga.

In a response that reads more or less as "Get off my lawn," Barraga wrote, "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 motorcycle." As for why the road should be the sole domain of the car? Barraga argues, "drivers expect to see other drivers on the road not bicyclists and motorcyclists."

Whose side are you taking in this? Is Cutrone asking too much by requesting a bike lane or a few simple signs, or are Barraga's comments on bikes and motorcycles out of line? Have your say in Comments.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 251 Comments
      Justin Campanale
      • 10 Months Ago
      Stop feeding the troll, guys. There is NO WAY someone could be so stupid yet claim to be an orthopedic surgeon. Besides, the name "Fueltothefire" is a dead giveaway. More likely than not, he's a lame teenager who takes pleasure in annoying people on the Internet because he has nothing better to do on a Sunday evening.The only difference, his troll posts are so well crafted that it's almost impossible to tell if be really is a troll, or actually some steroid laden Hummer driving assclown with an inferiority complex more money than brains. Don't reply to him. If he is a troll, the more replies he gets, the more incentive he has to clutter up AB's boards with thread after thread of his rants. Just downvote and move on.
      Michael S
      • 10 Months Ago
      I see this as a problem with infrastructure, which in turn, leads to dangerous and irrational behavior on the part of both drivers and cyclists. Drivers are pissed when their speed is reduced by slower moving traffic up front. Cyclists are pissed when their lives are being threatened by bad or belligerent drivers. Since the majority of streets in the US are designed for only the automobile, it's no wonder these conflicts occur. Ironically, adding bicycle facilities, like the bike lanes that the constituent wrote about, will reduce conflicts between drivers and cyclists and improve travel safety for all parties involved.
        Matt Holmes
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Michael S

        Regardless of where people stand on the issue, for bikes on the road, or not, your statement stands true.

        The problem we're having is that our infrastructure can't handle different speeds. If you aren't doing the speed limit, you're either holding traffic up, or putting traffic at risk. Our roadways should be available for any citizen to use; it is, after all, the only way to go from point A to B, unless we want to start telling people to go cross country.

        So the problem isn't who is using our roadways; we all need to use them. The problem is that our roadways aren't adequate for every user. Addressing this issue is smart engineering and politics; pretending like it isn't an issue, or that the roadways are only for some citizens and not others (though we all pay equally into it), only puts people at risk.

      ferps
      • 10 Months Ago
      What we need in America is real bike lanes that are against the curb and have some time of barrier. The American practice of having the bike lane to the inside of the parking lane is stupid and dangerous.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      Add a bike lane. Problem solved. Most bicycle-car conflicts exist due to lack of them. Slow and high speed vehicles should be separated. Where i live, we don't have much in the way of bike lanes. They are only present if there is extra pavement available. But they are usually in bad repair. So i have an electric bicycle that is hopped up to do up to 45mph so i can basically switch between being a motorcycle on the road and keep up with traffic where there is no lane, or pedal along at the legal 20mph speed in the bike lane if it is available. What i am doing is illegal of course. But it's the only way i can ride a bike here. It's either break the law, or put myself in danger and cause inconvenience to drivers. Gee, it's almost as if the structure of our law, and design of the transportation system forces you into driving a car..
        Bassracerx
        • 9 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        then why ride a bike in the first place? Why?
        Thereminator
        • 9 Months Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        I agree,a separate bike lane is a practical answer and sharing lanes with cars is lazy law-making and very dangerous(I've been hit twice on motorcycles and I almost hit a bike because it blended into the background). Of course,this subject,like most others,has become emotionally polarized/hijacked and has had most of the reason squeezed out of it.Notice how the headlines state that the legislator said NO one should EVER ride a bike or motorcycle? The Emotion Pimps are hard at it again.
          Jamie Houk
          • 9 Months Ago
          @Thereminator
          Please explain how a bicycle and a motorcycle can share a lane. I don't seem to under stand that considering most bicycle lanes are only about four feet wide.
      Bastiaan
      • 9 Months Ago
      I don't think such a misguided and narrow-minded individual should have political power. I thought the US was the land of the free? Certainly that includes the freedom to such a simple thing as your choice of transportation? Especially when riding a bicycle is good for your health, and both riding a motorcycle or a bicycle reduces congestion and frees up parking space - both of which benefit car drivers. This man is speaking out of irritation and contempt, neither of which befit someone who should fairly represent people in government. While I can fully understand the frustration of car drivers with cyclist behavior, there are two very important things we need to keep in mind when talking about this issue. First of all is confirmation bias. Which (motor-) cyclists do we notice and remember? The ones who run red lights, take risks, cause (near) accidents. We notice the ones who annoy us. However, this is only a portion of cyclists. So sadly, it's the bad apples who define the rest: no-one will remember the guy on the motorbike who kept to the speed limit, used his blinkers and didn't weave through traffic like a suicidal maniac. I can say for myself (as car driver, cyclist and motorcyclist) that I never take risks that put myself (and especially others) at unnecessary risk simply to save a few seconds, but that kind of behavior doesn't get noticed. And, as a fellow (motor-) cyclist, all I want to do is pull those fools over and subject them to a fine rant on their responsibility in keeping the roads safe and not making our reputation worse. However, it is the second point which I think makes this discussion a non-issue: the consequences of the road user's behavior. If there is a situation where a cyclist and a car have a conflict of interest, in my opinion the cyclist should have priority, simply due to their vulnerability. For a car driver, sharing the road with cyclists can be annoying and frustrating: you might get stuck behind one or you might be surprised when one tries to cross the road in front of you. However, for a cyclist, this kind of situation very quickly turns into a life-or-death scenario. Therefore, the car driver's argument boils down to "it's too much of a bother for me to be attentive enough on the road not to run anyone over". As a car driver, you are responsible for piloting a 3000+ pound vehicle in a way that is safe for yourself AND OTHERS. Cyclists are a danger mostly to themselves, but car drivers can be a danger to others, so they have greater responsibility in acting safely. This doesn't mean that I don't mind reckless cycling behavior, quite the contrary: when you're on the road your most important task is to behave appropriately in traffic. However, cyclists need more protection on the road, and as such I think cycle lanes are an excellent solution, as it both protects cyclist and keeps the roads free for cars, making it a win-win situation. Just look at the Netherlands and you can see that this can work very well.
      Jim R
      • 10 Months Ago
      Asking the county to install bike lanes everywhere IS asking too much, but a sign or two where cyclists frequent wouldn't be unreasonable. As for Mr. Barraga, I think it's time for you to retire. I wonder if he'll try to stuff a bill through banning two-wheeled vehicles in New York. Wouldn't put it past him.
      Dude
      • 9 Months Ago
      So here's my nickel; the road is meant to be shared with everyone and everything, whether it's cars, bicycles, trikes, horse carriages or anything else of the like. Drivers have to always be cautious when on the road no matter what. In fact, I've been on all sides, driving semi's, sport bikes, even an elephant once! Everyone in whatever type of transportation they're using can be an ass. It's your responsibility to not cause any harm. Saying things like, "If they get hit it's their fault." and ,"drivers expect to see other drivers on the road not bicyclists and motorcyclists" aren't such smart things to say.
      Torontodesignguy
      • 10 Months Ago
      It appears a good number of commentators here (I'll call them the "strictly drivers") make comments of VERY LITTLE value. Actually, their comments are quite unbalanced and very ignorant. In an attempt to be a bit more balanced (as a driver, a cyclist and a pedestrian myself), we should be looking at both drivers and cyclists as individuals. Claiming that all cyclists are this or that is ridiculous...it's not as though if you're a cyclist you're a member of an exclusive group or some sort of cult that acts a specific way. Let's stop making silly generalizations. Cyclists have varying behaviors, as do drivers. If I were to say drivers are all ass-hats and a menace to society because they all speed, cut each other off and have road rage, that would be laughable. To claim that bike lanes are useless because no one bikes is also a simply dumb statement. More people don't cycle because roads are dangerous and getting hit by a car usually doesn't end well. If more bike lanes were built, more people would use them. In turn, fewer cars would be on the road and there would be more room, less traffic, less pollution and fewer overall costs to society. Bikes would also therefore not get in the way of cars and everyone would be happy! Yes, there is an upfront cost for building bike lanes, but this is called an investment and a long term transportation strategy. After all, to invest in fewer modes of transportation is to guarantee a long term issue, especially since cars really are the worst way to move people (lowest volume, especially since most only have one occupant). In the financial world, this is called diversifying....look it up. Anyhow, now I'm rambling, but as some others have already mentioned, there are some very forward thinking countries on this planet who have solved many of these issues. Why then are so many so blind or close-minded? For a great country that identifies itself with innovation and forward thinking, there sure is a lot of ass-backwardness.
        Nick Allain
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Torontodesignguy
        I do all 4 - drive, motorcycle, bike, and walk. You're not really correct about more bike lanes meaning less traffic. Most bikers already use public transit instead of driving. That's just kind of how cities are. Especially in California. My issues with cyclists stem from their mentality. It's not a minority either. If you set up at a camera at any San Francisco intersection, you find that more than half of cyclists PEDAL through stop signs. I've nearly been hit by non-yeilding cyclists more times than I can count.
          Matt Holmes
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick Allain

          This is an issue, actually. A lot of bikers aren't even aware that they need to follow the rules of the road, just as if they were a vehicle. You can't go backwards on a one way street, you have to stop at a stop sign or light, you can't turn on red if there's a sign, and biker's need to yield to pedestrians, amongst other things. Heck, with a good road bike and a low speed limit, you even need to watch your speed.

          Bike safety could be part of the license or permit process, or it could perhaps be offered like a "driver's safety course" to reduce insurance rates and the likes. The point being that a lot of bikers /do/ forget the rules of the road, and thus are putting themselves at risk, and leaving others liable for their safety.

          Remember, you, in the bike, are in the smaller more maneuverable vehicle, and while you do have the right to be there, you do not have the right of way. And at the end of the day, you on a vehicle, on the road; you must follow the laws.

      Durishin
      • 9 Months Ago
      The facts are quite clear - America is in a crisis of obesity and the health problems it causes (from heart disease to sleep apnea to replacement joints) are driving our healthcare costs through the roof. What is also quite clear is that the increase in obesity among young kids paralleled the decline in their walking or biking to school. So, if you're a Lib, bikes belong. If you're a Conservative, bikes make for more productive, less expensive employees - and families - that means higher profit margins and happier employees and management. Make your kids walk or ride to school! If you're some old gas bag over 70, your field of vision has narrowed so much that, unless you share the gene-set of the late Paul Frere, you cannot see well enough to drive and should be out from behind the wheel all together.
      Keep It Real
      • 9 Months Ago
      People with an attitude like that towards other legal users of the road shouldn't be allowed to drive, as they have admitted that they are not paying attention to other legitimate users of the road. And legislators who seek to disenfranchise citizens engaged in a lawful activity by legislating his preferences to force others off the road for his convenience and/or to protect him from his own negligent driving, shouldn't be legislating for the general public.
      bleexeo
      • 10 Months Ago
      Apparently Thomas F. Barraga has brain damage.
      Brex
      • 9 Months Ago
      Step aside, old man. Your thinking is stale. (note: I love old people)
    • Load More Comments