Portrait of Daniel Flanzig, a board member of the New...

Portrait of Daniel Flanzig, a board member of the New York Bicycling Coalition and an attorney who focuses on cycling issues, with a vintage bicycle in Mineola on Nov. 17, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, in a rare rebuff of the County Legislature, has vetoed a bill aimed at curbing reckless bicycling.

The measure, approved by the legislature last month, would have enabled police to confiscate bikes and issue fines to cyclists who weave through traffic or ride with no hands, among other infractions. But it sparked strong criticism from cycling advocates, who said the bill was overly punitive, redundant with other traffic laws, and did little to make streets safer.

In a statement, Bellone spokesman Derek Poppe took issue with the scope and necessity of the bill.

"We believe this legislation is overly broad and that current law provides the necessary tools to address this issue," Poppe said. "We remain committed to working with the legislature to address safety concerns around bicycling practices."

Legis. Rudy Sunderman (R-Shirley), who sponsored the bill, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Bike advocates praised Bellone's move on Monday to block the measure.

Portrait of Daniel Flanzig, a board member of the New...

Portrait of Daniel Flanzig, a board member of the New York Bicycling Coalition and an attorney who focuses on cycling issues, with a vintage bicycle in Mineola on Nov. 17, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

"We are thrilled that the county executive saw the lack of value in this bill, the potential harm in targeting undeserving cyclists and that it would fail to accomplish its alleged objective, making Suffolk a safer place to ride," New York Bicycling Coalition board member Daniel Flanzig said in a statement.

The legislature could override Bellone's veto with a two-thirds majority vote, or 12 of 18 legislators. Thirteen legislators voted in favor of the bill last month.

Vetoes by Bellone are relatively rare. The last came in February of last year, according to a legislature spokeswoman.

Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she is working on a revised reckless-cyclist bill that would be more targeted and specific.

"I'm glad the discussion is continuing, because we do need a solution to the reckless biking problem in my community," she said. "But I don't think the bill that passed is the answer."

Hahn also has introduced two other road safety bills. One would require motorists to leave 3 feet between their cars and cyclists. The other would extend the same requirements around pedestrians and other "vulnerable road users."

Long Island is among the most dangerous places for pedestrians and cyclists in the state, data shows. In 2019, Nassau and Suffolk were the second and third deadliest counties in New York for cyclists, after only Kings County, Brooklyn, according to data collected by the Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research. They were the third and fourth deadliest counties for pedestrians, after Queens and Kings counties.

Twenty-six cyclists and 120 pedestrians were killed that year on Long Island, the data shows.

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