Letter From The Editor: Discussion With Somerville City Councilor Mark Niedergang Regarding My Recent Article on Bus/Bike Lane

This past Wednesday I received a text from Somerville City Councilor for Ward 5 Mark Niedergang regarding a recent article that I wrote for the front page of the Somerville News Weekly titled “BICYCLES AND BUSES IN SOMERVILLE SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AN ALTERNATIVE, NOT A REPLACEMENT.”

The text thread feed reads as posted:

(Mark Niedergang wrote)
Billy, seriously (to quote you) yes, I know and see thousands of ‘Villens of all ages doing their everyday errands, doctor appointments, grocery shopping and business on bicycles here in Somerville. And thousands more would do it if they thought it was safe to bike on our streets. 😊😊

(William Tauro replied)
In the rain, heat, snow, ice, seniors, young people, old people, carrying groceries and doing there every day thing going to and from Somerville to earn a living that they have been doing their entire lives, please!
It’s not like the old days when we could walk to the corner on Sundays, go to church, frequent a little diner and then later on walk home for dinner, those days are gone for ever. Thanks to the invention of the automobile that gave people the freedom, the option and the right to go where they want, when they want and how they want! Welcome to the 21st century it’s called prosperity!

(Mark Niedergang replied)
Bill, you’re stuck in the 20th century! Billy. Welcome to the 21st century and climate change. If we want our children and grandchildren to have anything like the prosperity we have we have to stop destroying the planet. Young people want to
Live in dense cities and give up their cars. Old people empty nesters are selling their suburban homes to move into small condos in cities like ours so they can walk and bike around and not have to drive at night. This is why demand for housing in Somerville is insatiable and prices will continue to go up. Local stores are coming back or hanging in there. Check out Neighborhood Produce, Mckinnons, Dulocks, Lyndells, etc.

(William Tauro replied)
Well I’m off to start my day. I’m going to drive around in my 10 cylinder H2 Hummer and look for good photos to shoot while I’m wearing a snow-parka and turning on my electric heated seats because of this global warming is making me freeze my butt off! Thanks for saving the planet for both of us! Cheers!

(William Tauro wrote)
Mark, this would make an interesting piece can we use it? 😝 it will definitely break the Internet!

(Mark Niedergang replied)
Thanks for asking, Billy. Sure use it as you wish I am an elected official/politician. Anything I write to you is public

(William Tauro replied)
I also consider you as a friend, so anything you write to me is between us as well. That’s why I asked.)

(Mark Niedergang replied)
Billy, I am a politician and you are a newspaper publisher. That is what defines our relationship. I do like you and I value our relationship even tho we disagree on many things. Enjoy your day ruining our beloved planet!

(William Tauro replied)
Haha thanks!

10 thoughts on “Letter From The Editor: Discussion With Somerville City Councilor Mark Niedergang Regarding My Recent Article on Bus/Bike Lane”

  1. Mark, I beg to differ. The older folks are moving out so they will have stores Since we keep losing ours. I will be one of them as this city has so little to offer any more and getting worse by the day. As someone who is elected to work for all the people you have not done your job. And you are not alone I may add. I have done things outside of what I wanted or believed on because that was what was demanded of me to do the right thing. I dislike saying you are not doing your job but it is the truth. You are not seeing the whole picture either on purpose or you are too close minded to get it. This is a city. What you are asking for is utopia. It does not exist so we do the next best thing. I have purposely stayed out of politics because I knew I would be working with people who simply cannot do the right thing and actually work for the people. As in do what you are told, not what you want. That part I can do well. This is all laid out very well in the constitution. These people who wrote it were very smart and laid it out well. Read about each of their lives. They were amazingly smart. Even at my age I still believe in doing the right thing. Not trying to insult you bit it just seems to me you need some direction. I am still learning each and every day and I am not as young as you.

  2. What is really crazy is that these educated people have no vision whatsoever. They keep working at this so called plan and it is actually doing the opposite. We are adding more cars here each year, many more than bikes. What does that say? Then to make it even more stupid not having cars is how do things get to their house? Amazon? UPS? Big trucks? Their Dunkin coffee comes in tractor trailers. Another clueless is anything we need now we have to drive to another city to for. I just came back from Burlington from food shopping. No place here I would want to go to as most do not carry what I want. Nice as I meet so many Somerville people there. And another bright idea has more pollution here reducing air quality by creating more traffic. Now solar panels, guess what happens with them? Solar panels create 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than do nuclear power plants. The carcinogenics are put in the air by people burning them to get the copper in them. Or buried to pollute the earth. Which is why I will not have them on my house. My best humane one is the Apple phones. They kill more people in their factories and also others are disabled for life. I will say they are trying to reverse that since it went public. And they didn’t take care of the people afterwards. Just replaced them. The one that really gets me is the millions spent on paths and lanes which I suspect is so the homeless and hungry can sit out and watch them go by. I would want to live in a city that takes care of these things than being here. So many cities have done some wonderful things taking care of those less fortunate than the rest of us. I could go on forever as the powers that be have zero vision for this city. I have spent over 70 years here and because of mobility issues I will be forced to leave and move to a place that has transportation, safe places to bike if I ever can do that again after being rebuilt. Access to shopping for normal things one needs. I am not anti bike but I have been hit by more bikes than cars. Really? Our leaders are not opened minded enough to figure it out yet. I am leaving now to drive to Watertown to pick up a 102 year old vert and take him to the VA in W. Roxbury. They have a bike for that?

  3. Keep this in mind as you think about why Mark Niedergang was elected.

    His career is Urban Planner and worked as an urban planner at Brandeis University for a number of years. He graduated from Tufts University, receives benefits as alumnus and probably makes donations as most do, who also send their children to the same colleges and universities which they graduate. His daughter is also a graduate of Tufts and wife also has an affiliation to Tufts. So ask yourself this question when thinking about the rest of the board of councilors as well:

    What is their primary motivation for getting into politics? Especially in a city that has been targeted for gentrification and providing condos to the elite academics who no longer wish to commute from the suburbs to the city?

    There are other councilors with affiliations to Harvard and MIT, 2 presently work there, one’s husband has worked their for years, and the institutions which are stakeholders to the redevelopment projects in our city. So why do they care about working class residents in our town? Others feel the job is well deserving due to a form of inheritance- parents worked for the city, in elevated positions of importance, etc. In other words…they’re owed. It has nothing to do with capability or education which there is very little for grooming, but they will learn as they go. One of the biggest issues I see here because it can then become a family affair where everyone then works for the city from entire households. I’ve seen how nepotism can cause problems and in this case, most definitely. When it’s time to go, it’s time to go. If they are hopelessly indecisive and duplicitous, how does that help one remain fair-minded and ethical? It can’t unless you possess sound character and can live with making tough decisions. That’s not what we have here, just the opposite.

    The institutions of higher education all provide monetary incentives to their students to Ride Bikes. Ask yourselves why they do it? The mayor has already stated in previous articles and at public meetings that he wants a “Walkable and Bikeable City”, to include shutting down Davis Square, Ball Square and Union Square for this purpose. Look at the map and see which of the institutions of higher education are located close to Ball Square, already pouring federal grants, paid by taxes, for college students with aspiring dreams to be local entrepreneurs, fail after just a few years. Some of the councilors have been elected, not by popular vote, by personal arrangement, according to some who claim is valid. Others were appointed because they are helping their employer carry out the end result of an occupied city by academic institutions. This is not a conspiracy theory. This is very real and should raise concern for those who invested their lives and hard earned money to live in this city. Unlike the others who are paid by local academic institutions and a city on a misguided course, to carry out their plans, we local residents remained to raise our families and hope to provide for their futures and now they want to strip it away? Stay strong and maintain a steady course. Don’t sell your home unless you really want to and make sure it’s the price you feel you will be satisfied with– make them PAY.

  4. Arthur,

    Businesses will continue to close, sadly. This is reminiscent of what occurred on Beacon Street. The owner of the laundromat posted many comments about the bike lane stripping away parking for patrons. So, it’s obvious, the bike lanes are being used to further gentrification. Just another way the local politicians can justify their actions for displacing thousands of working class families and our elderly. We can learn a great deal from history as it’s repeated and Broadway is being changed as Beacon Street, in order to accommodate their ill conceived agenda. This has little to do with transportation needs and more to do with changing the landscape of our city to accommodate the elite who have already invested millions in condos. Parents of local colleges and those who wish to move closer to their jobs are all benefiting at the cost of our local community. The stats provided by the same people pushing bike lanes and unnecessary bridge closings have a separate agenda. They hope thousands more will pack up and move out, freeing up more housing for the unscrupulous developers, their closest allies who are also contributing to the downfall of our working class town.

  5. The politicians keep getting elected because many who vote were given jobs working for the city. Why do you suppose a $3 million dollar high school is being built? More jobs for donors children who can’t get jobs on their own because they studied art for 4 years. You are told to vote for the incumbent and watched. If you are seen holding a sign for the opponent, admit to voting for the opponent, you are demoted or lose your job. The city is run like a fascist state. It’s a radical liberal city run by entitled, insufferable transplants from surrounding liberal towns.

    The cyclist cabal wants to control our city and are sent here by special interests to antagonize working class motorists. There are also a number of cyclists with revoked drivers licenses due to their addictions, including drugs and alcohol. Too many years of bailing out the neglected brats who spent too much time alone and or with nanny’s.

    We will never get the real stats on how many use bike lanes because the numbers don’t justify the millions wasted on projects. Afterall, the worthless hacks appointed to these jobs have to do something for their weekly paycheck.

  6. It’s odd how if this is so unpopular the politicians keep getting re-elected. Is it possible that the bus lane is actually…popular?!?

    1. That’s fine with me. The city rolled this out at a bad time. Wait until all the closures are open again and then proceed with these changes if they indeed work. The city just needs to find a way to make the School to Temple Street problem worked out and maybe it will work. Maybe the green line will help also. Everything is a maybe, lets just do it in ti’s proper time.

  7. My personal statement for Broadway Somerville by Arthur Moore

    I am not against bikes being a former biker. I am concerned about the businesses in Winter Hill that are losing 25 to 75% of their business due to the bike and bus lanes. I can’t imagine any one of you would like to wake up one morning and be in that same position. I would hate to think our leaders would not have the compassion to help save these local and long time businesses from being forced out of here. It is not right. As hard as I have tried I could not get these business people to get involved as they are so afraid of retribution. I have run into a lot of that since I got involved with this. If there was ever a time to stick up for our local hard working businesses this is the time. If not it is on your conscious. I know Mr. Rawson maybe just doing his job but I am appalled by his giving us stats when we have the city in such chaos now that anything given to us is meaningless until we get our upcoming bridge closures and our currently closed bridges and streets reopened and get the actual stats to use to make these decisions. I am not an expert but that is very clear to see that even for someone like me. There is nothing in this for me. I am spending my time and money because I saw something bad happening and I just could not stand by and watch this. Many people are now just avoiding the area rather than shop there or getting services. People with mobility issues and the handicapped can no longer go to some of these places now. Starting with the protected lane that is unused that can be easily be taken away as the bikes just don’t use that yet. In a 2 to 5 hour period there may be one bike or sometimes two that go up Winter Hill from Temple Street and sometimes they use the sidewalk rather than the bike lane. An outside bike lane should be fine here for now like the other side of the street. The bike lane over there may need some sort of speed control for bikes as some go way to fast to stop for emergencies. A bad area for bikers would be from Grant Street to Temple Street where I have witnessed many near calls with buses, cars and Fire engines due to the bus lane as being the problem. The bus drivers have the most problems here with bikes where they often have to slam on their brakes for them. If they have standing passengers they start yelling at the bus driver. Cars are also a problem but since they move faster they don’t have to hit their brakes as the cars are moving fast enough not to be a problem. Fire engines are having a much harder time getting around due to the increase in traffic jams and people not moving out of the way, Plus double parking is a problem as people go by the double parked vehicle if they could pull over to the right it would free up some of the problem. People don’t pull into the red lane when the emergency vehicles try to get by like they should. The Temple Street to School Street problem is just magnified now. One can plainly see we need the bus lane for cars there which will probably ease it up but not totally solve the problem. The traffic light in front of the PO could be better. Maybe a solid green arrow from the start that stays that way even when the left arrow does on seems like the lost logical solution. Delivery vehicles although not a giant problem will hopefully be resolved once the electric bike delivery vehicles get going more here in America, Amazon, UPS and DHL are already using them here and they are very successful in other countries and use the bike lanes. Also don’t know why but in the off hours of bus use why can’t we be using smaller more economical buses instead of the larger ones. Maybe saving enough that we could run them more often and encourage more people to use the T. Although I doubt this as I think we have reached our limit for MTA use. I tried this year to use the MTA and the bus went past my street, that’s how I found out Fenwick Street is no longer a bus stop. Had to call for someone to pick me up as it is too far for me to attempt to try. We are soon to have four more bridges out so we really need to keep Broadway moving. It is only a tiny stretch of road and this clearly is not working right now. Maybe after everything is opened back up we can revisit it if needed. Other parts of the country are going through the same thing. Some places it does work great. Some places have undone them. We need to think of safety, we have people driving through side streets at a higher rate of speed to get around this. This is not good. So while it does look like this may be working it really is not. We have had a number of collisions and incidents since this started. A number of police, fire and bus drivers are not for this. I know I repeat myself but this is not my thing. I have spent many hours looking, talking to people both here and in other cities where they are also having issues. I have also spent a great deal of time with looking over street designs and organizations for motorists, bikers and the like. I saw one city where 55 businesses folded up due to this kind of thing. As for the top of Broadway where the cars are away from the sidewalk I had received complaints. I didn’t think much of it until I went up Norwood Street. I can see why now. You have to get the front of your car out into a narrow lane way too far before you can see that it is safe. I would not like to be doing that. I am around if anyone should want more details and glad to answer them honestly. I probably didn’t organize this as well as professionals would but I hope you at least understand what I am trying to say and explain. Please make these decisions on an open mind. The business people of Winter Hill will have some hard choices if you can’t help them. They should not have to lose everything they worked so hard for. At the very least roll it back until the city is returned to us. Anything else is not acceptable. As a nation we are adding more cars, not decreasing, but accidents are decreasing even with more cars on the roads. And I ask again, if you can’t make this decision with an open mind at least excuse yourself from the decision process. A mistake was made in executing this well before it should have been done. It Is not a crime to recall this until the time is right. People would have more respect for people that admit their faults. Because of this I think the board should find a way as representatives of the people that they should have the power to step in when they need to. I am sure if this can be done Bill White would be the person who would know if this is possible. Our elected council members should have that power if needed to keep appointed people from doing anything they want. Just a thought. Please do the right thing here.

    Restore Broadway Arthur Moore

  8. I would love to know why the biker parents are allowed to ride bikes with their children in front of their bike or behind so close to ground level. Isn’t this child neglect? God forbid with snow/ice/rain/sunny day a driver loses control of their vehicle and hits the biker. This is truly terrifying for drivers who have to dodge the bikers riding in the middle of the street. When I was young growing up in Somerville had I ridden in the middle of the street the police would have taken my bike away. No one wins in this situation. People will not give up their cars and bikers will keep on riding. It’s too dangerous in the city too congested. I’m saying my prayers for the little children who have no say in how they are transported by their biker parents.

    1. I would never have done this to my child. It is child endangerment. Millions have been spent to make them safe in cars. How can you make them safe out in the open near car fumes? Things will change as we go along but some things we are not ready for yet. The doing away with car thing is fine in one sense, but now that we are a delivery oriented society here that really just defies all logic for that argument. I think Mark has made it pretty clear this city is going to be just for bike riders and everyone else is not welcome. So that means that we really need to pack up and leave. Even though I have biked here for over 50 years and can longer do that I need to look elsewhere to live. Okay, I can take the hint.

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