Mean Old Rich Guy Yells At Cyclists To Get Off His Lawn!

Written by Boston Biker on Aug 11

No this is not an onion article, although if you read the recent article in the globe you might be forgiven for confusing the two. Eric Berger, self appointed grumpy old man, has spent more than $40,000 (holy shit) of his own money. Not to cure cancer, or to plant trees, or to save the children, Mr. Berger wants more car traffic in front of his home, and he is not afraid to spend a lot of money to get it.

That’s right, Eric Berger loves him some car traffic, and he is willing to do anything to get more of it. Bigger, faster, more lanes, cars! Anything that stands in the way of getting the maximum number of cars past his home in a day is going to be dealt with, and dealt with sternly.

What is all the fuss about? A bunch of people in Arlington decided it would be awesome to have better pedestrian and bicycling facilities on that stretch of Mass. Ave. that runs through the town. If you have ever ridden on it you know its super wide, poorly laid out, and would be PERFECT for some bike lanes. Not so fast says Señor Grumpy Pants Berger:

Berger has shelled out $40,000 of his own money to hire an engineer, a law firm, two consultants, and another attorney to stop the town.

Wait, what? Why would anyone do that? Did a bicyclist or pedestrian kill his dog? Does he think that a band of rabid cyclists will descend upon his lawn and tear up his azaleas? Nope, he just feels that cyclists have it too easy already and its about time we do something nice for car drivers.

Berger and some others who oppose the reconfiguration say that Arlington already has enough places for cyclists, including a nearby rail trail. They argue that changing Massachusetts Avenue to accommodate bikes would only encourage more cyclists to use the road, making travel more difficult for cars and emergency vehicles.

Yes cyclists are going to make it harder for emergency, because they take up the whole road, and are impossible to move to the side if an ambulance or fire truck needs to get through. And a bike lane or wider sidewalk would provide absolutely zero space in case an ambulance or fire truck had to find some place to park. Color me dubious Mr. Cranky Berger.

As far as the argument of “well they don’t need bike lanes because they have the minuteman trail right over there” by that same argument you could say “well cars don’t need Mass. Ave. because Route 2, and 93 are right over there.”

And heaven forbid more people ride bikes than drive in their cars, you know that might just help reduce traffic, and then the poor souls that do choose to drive would have a big empty road with a bunch of cyclists on one side. How could they get to work in time under such conditions?!

The best part is Berger McDouche Rocket thinks that he is making some grand stand against tyranny.

“This is a story about citizens fighting to protect their safety against the local government,’’ said Berger, who likens his opposition to what the English government faced from Sam and John Adams. “It’s a story,’’ he continued, “about a group of citizens who refuse to sit quietly.’’

Oh you mean the revolution, where we got our freedom from a the tyrant king of England…yes your valiant fight to stop some bike lanes and better sidewalks is just like that. Or maybe you he was talking about Sam Adams valiant fight against bitter bear face? Either way, holy shit, crazy much? I would wager good money this guy has been watching too much Glenn Beck. He probably curls up every night with his stack of gold coins from Gold Line, and checks on his stash of non-hybrid apocalypse seeds every morning to make sure they are still in good condition so he can trade them for stuff when society falls apart.

For 40K he could have sent me to grad school for a year, or purchased enough food to feeds a couple thousand starving people in Africa, or helped clean up the beaches in the Gulf, or purchased almost 100 quality bicycles for people, or you know just kept it and gave it to his children when he kicks. Either way it seems like a lot of money to waste on fighting something that almost everyone agrees is a good thing. Is the noble struggle against the evils of bike lanes really going to be the one you blow your cash on?

If you are going to plant your old man crazy flag on the hill of battle, I am sure there are better causes you could fight. Try global warming, or air pollution, or obesity, or the geo-political consequences of our addiction to oil, ocean acidification, or asthma, or the lack of public transportation in many communities, to name a few. NOOO you had to fight bike lanes and side walks, whataguy!

I am both highly amused by this guy and his ilk, and disgusted. I can’t imagine how anyone who has ever ridden a bicycle through this area could think that there are already too many bike facilities. I also can’t imagine why they would want MORE car traffic in front of their homes? I mean do you really enjoy seeing cars zipping past your house at high speeds? What if you have dog, or a kid?

Traffic planers have been proving for years that adding more lanes just adds more traffic, and doesn’t solve the problem at all. All the studies of this part of Mass. Ave. completely refute Mr. Berger’s arguments. He has neither logical nor factual arguments on his side. What he does have is way too much free time, and a surplus of spending cash. Mr Berger is a sad, mistaken old man, who needs to take his wealth and go away.

For more highly amusing and disgusting quotes from these wack-a-moles, see the full article here.


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Posted in bostonbiker, news | 21 Comments »


21 Responses to “Mean Old Rich Guy Yells At Cyclists To Get Off His Lawn!”

  1. By Eric S. on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    The Arlington Advocate actually ran this story before the Globe. You can find the article here: http://www.wickedlocal.com/arlington/highlight/x1137372957/Arlington-resident-Eric-Berger-takes-on-the-Mass-Ave-Corridor-Project

    Scroll down below the article to find a number of comments, both from readers and Mr. Berger himself.

  2. By Boston Biker on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Eric: looks like its just a big wank job by the people from Berger’s little club.

    This sort of thing used to happen when they were fighting cape wind, the people fighting it would go to every comment section of any article talking about it and just fill it up with anti-wind comments.

  3. By Eric S. on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    It’s important to note that the Mass. Ave. corridor project has actually been pretty controversial from the start in (East) Arlington. It’s more than just one guy spending his life savings on lawyers. Several business owners have stepped up with concerns about construction hassles, reduced parking areas, traffic concerns, etc. There are other concerns as well. It’s not as simple as “I don’t want bike lanes in Arlington.”

    I’m not saying I think that those arguments are valid, but they are being made. It’s not just Eric Berger.

    Also, I know it’s easy to assume that Berger is just some “mean old rich guy” who hates cyclists, but, as the Advocate article points out, this guy isn’t wealthy. He’s a retired teacher who lives on a pension. It’s insane that he’s spending this kind of money, but it’s something that he believes in.
    “A retired educator from New York, Berger lives on a pension and Social Security. But he also had some savings, too, and Berger decided it was worth it to hire an attorney.”

  4. By Boston Biker on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    if he is really blowing his life savings on this, then his is more foolish than I had originally assumed.

    If people are concerned about what a lot of walking and biking traffic will do to their businesses, there are ample stories easily found with the google, about how increasing walking and biking has greatly increased business for local shops.

  5. By Erik on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Hey, at least this guy is (ostensibly) trying to give a data-driven argument. I suspect the business owners are less diligent.

    In Eric’s article, his goals seem to be safety-related (EMS response, clean air, etc). But even those numbers are proxies for safety, and much of his logic requires a narrative (rather than numbers) to explain the importance (esp the “if a bike lane ends it creates a hazard for novices” one).

    Hopefully challenges like this will encourage infrastructure design to be more data-driven and intelligently designed.

  6. By Boston Biker on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Erik: This project is completely data driven, from soup to nuts, its just that this old guy doesn’t believe the data that the project proponents are putting forth.

    Basically if mom says no go ask dad. This project is fully backed by good data, and good studies on road use, traffic flow, volume you name it.

  7. By Marianna on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    I just sent an email to the improvements committee in my home town saying ‘thanks for putting in bike racks!’

  8. By 100psi on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    i feel sorry for the guy. is this how he intended to spend his retirement years, investing money and time on a crappy road?

  9. By Lovely Bicycle! on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    I go though the stretch of Mass Ave in Arlington all the time and it’s awful. I wish to God there were bike lanes there and it is upsetting to know that people are trying to stop it from happening.

    But… I feel that if we want the bike lanes to happen, we need to make the effort to understand the point of view of the residents who oppose it – rather than making negative remarks about their character. It is their town. What are they afraid of, and how can we best communicate to them that things will actually be better for them (not just for us) with the lanes than without?

  10. By Boston Biker on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Lovely: You can get a pretty good understanding of their point of view by reading the article in the globe, they think that it is stupid to take a travel lane out to give to cyclists, and they are willing to spend a lot of money to fight that plan.

    The don’t accept the traffic planners numbers that traffic and emergency services will not be affected so they went and hired their own people.

    They think the government is tyrannical, and they liken themselves to The Adams’ fighting the king of England….

    I feel like I have portrayed an accurate picture of your basic NIMBY.

    “Bike lanes for everyone, but not in front of my house” is their basic argument.

  11. By Boston Biker on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Or to put it another way, there is no reasoning with these people. Because they don’t accept the factual basis that everyone else is working with.

  12. By Aaron on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Evidence > ideology

  13. By CYCLER on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    While LB is perhaps being more sensitive than I would be, I do think that we as a community do need to find an argument that resonates with people like this guy, because there are a lot of guys like him, not so much in Boston, but in the big bad world (St. Louis, Denver), and just saying “you’re a stupid NIMBY” isn’t going to cut it.
    One of these guys cost the city of San Francisco 10 years and who knows how much money, by being both hateful and creative. It’s bad to make enemies, even people who can easily be dismissed as curmudgeons.

  14. By Sarah on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    Mr. Berger’s self-dramatizing rhetoric reminds me of the Tea Party candidate in Colorado who insists that a bike-sharing program in Denver is part of a giant U.N. plot to take over the U.S.

    Lordy…

  15. By mtalinm on Aug 11, 2010 | Reply

    maybe Berger is a closeted Vehicular Cyclist?

  16. By i love espresso on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    I also ride this part of Mass Ave daily and hate it … the unmarked 2, sometimes 3 lanes make cars and buses pass really really close sometimes.

    some of my coffee shop customers are east arlington residents and seems to be reasonable people but are also opposed to the bike lanes, it’s hard to fathom why … they mumble things like “increasing cut-through on the side streets” (which I see happen constantly already), “you have the bike path” (doesn’t go where I want to!), and “fewer lanes, less access to local businesses, slower traffic, more pollution” yadda yadda. guess they are eric berger fans.

    what east arlington really needs is some serious business development

  17. By UML on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    As a E Arlington resident and supporter of this plan, I believe Mr. Berger is way off base. First of all he makes no mention of the data that has been used to make this plan. This group kicked and screamed for more traffic studies and when two extra ones were done and they didn’t support their idea of needing a 4 laned roadway they returned to ancedotal evidence. The roadway is 65 feet wide and the only way to make a 4 lane road here is to remove parking, something that no one is willing to do. Mr. Berger does not represent the whole of E Arlington being in opposition to this plan. He represents the most hardened of opponents. They are loud and make a fuss (that is why they get the coverage), but they don’t represent the neighborhood. They even ran a candidate for Board of Selectmen, with killing Mass Ave as her main issue, and lost badly. They didn’t even win E Arlington.

    There are a lot of benefits to this plan, bike lanes are one of them. I think many long time residents see this as the “Cambridgafication” of Arlington and they don’t want that. I think this is somewhat of a culture clash within our town. Many of these same opponents have be vocally opposing the free bus shelters that have been offered to the town. (Actually they pay the town $1600 a year to have them.)

    Those that argue that the bike path is good enough because it is parallel to Mass Ave, have obviously failed at geometry and don’t ride a bicycle for transportation. If I’m going from the Capitol Theater to Porter Square, I’m not going to Alewife.

    Bicycle accomodation is state law, Mr. Berger would be wise to read the Mass Highway design guide. It states pretty emphatically that bike lanes are the correct choice for this type of roadway.

    This is not some road in W. Mass that has no bicycle traffic on it. You can go many places around Mass and even the US and not find that many people riding a bike.

    If you want to support more pedestrian and bicycle friendly places in Arlington. Visit:
    http://www.ealscoalition.org

  18. By john on Nov 23, 2010 | Reply

    good! I hate f’ing cyclists too. It take all my will to keep from running them over when ever they decide to ride in the middle of the road. I laugh when ever someone does!

  19. By Boston Biker on Nov 23, 2010 | Reply

    hey john, just a heads up when you visit this website and leave a comment it leaves a lot of information about you in my logs. You are not as anonymous as you might like to think you are. So perhaps making veiled threats is not such a good idea.

  20. By Militant Angeleno on Apr 8, 2013 | Reply

    Mental illness is a tragic thing.

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