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L.I. Legislator's Stance On Bike Safety Sets Off Social Media Backlash

NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) -- It has touched off a social media backlash.

A suburban lawmaker told the victim of a bicycle accident that bikes don't belong on Suffolk County roads.

Sandy Cutrone was struck by a van and thrown from her bicycle at a cross walk in Babylon, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

Her helmet saved her life but Cutrone suffered a concussion and broken bones.

Cutrone's 17-year-old son used a classroom assignment at West Islip High School to reach out to a government official about a topic that he was passionate about. The reply he received has since set off a backlash on social media.

Suffolk County legislator Thomas Barraga wrote back saying that "no one in Suffolk County should ever ride a bicycle" and that, "Suffolk is a suburban automobile community."

"My reaction was to call his office and to tell them 'you are not getting my vote again,'" Cutrone said.

Barraga also advised against running in the street and suggested that runners and bikers go to the gym instead of using bike lanes where people are still at risk of getting hit by a car.

"To sit there and say the only solution is to remove runners, bikers, walkers," Cutrone said, "How far does he want to go with removing everybody from the road. That is not a reality."

Legislator Barraga was out-of-town when reached for comment but his staff said that his concern is safety.

Eric Alexander, the head of Vision Long Island said that both road exercise and safety are attainable.

"Speed is really the problem here," he said, "The fact is roadways are not just for automobiles."

The Suffolk County legislature's presiding officer DuWayne Gregory said that there is "Safe Streets" funding available to renovate roadways and that America's obesity problem means that no one should remain sedentary.

"We have to find a better way and a safer way for people to exercise," Gregory said.

The Cutrones said that banning bikes is not the answer and that roads should be made safer for alternative modes of transportation.

In 2013, nearly twenty percent of New York state's bike accidents happened in Suffolk County.

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