Putting environmental concerns first hits individual freedoms, claims Republican

A Republican candidate to become Governor of Colorado has warned that initiatives to promote cycling in Denver are part of a United Nations plot to impose its will on American cities, which he described as “very well-disguised, but it will be exposed.”

Dan Maes said that at first he thought the pro-cycling and other environmental policies of Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper were harmless and well intentioned, but he says he has now concluded “that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."

"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," he added, saying that Hickenlooper’s environmental endavours, and particularly his efforts to promote cycling, risked "converting Denver into a United Nations community."

Criticising initiatives such as the planned introduction of the B-Cycle bike hire scheme, already operating in Chicago and other cities, in Denver, Maes added: "These aren't just warm, fuzzy ideas from the mayor. These are very specific strategies that are dictated to us by this United Nations program that mayors have signed on to."

According to the Denver Post, Maes has said that his concerns are grounded in the city’s membership of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), an international organization that works closely with the United Nations and which seeks to promote sustainable development among local councils worldwide and which has 1,200 member communities around the globe, half of them in the United States.

A spokesman for Mayor Hickenlooper, who with incumbent Bill Ritter stepping down will be the Democratic Party candidate in this November’s elections for the governorship of Colorado in which, according to the latest polls, Maes will be his opponent, said that the city had “limited” contact with ICLEI.

A second spokesman, for Hickenlooper’s campaign to become governor, added that the ICLEI’s aim was "to bring cities from all over the world together to share best practices and help create the kinds of communities people want to live and do business in. John Hickenlooper believes collaboration leads to smart decisions."

Hickenlooper is a long-term supporter of cycling as a means of sustainable transport, although he is not without his critics – last week, he reportedly attracted fire from motor traders after posing the question, as he outlined the benefits of the B-Cycle scheme, of “How do we wean ourselves off automobiles?"

For his part, Maes, whose candidature is backed by the grass-roots conservative Tea Party faction, maintains that ICLEI places environmental issues above concern for individual citizens, claiming that it is "signing up mayors across the country, and these mayors are signing on to this UN agreement to have their cities abide by this dream philosophy."

He claims that there are valid causes of concern in ICLEI policies such as provision of showers for people wishing to cycle to work and making parking spaces available for fuel-efficient vehicles, explaining: "At first, I thought, 'Gosh, public transportation, what's wrong with that, and what's wrong with people parking their cars and riding their bikes? And what's wrong with incentives for green cars?' But if you do your homework and research, you realize ICLEI is part of a greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty.”

He added that he was concerned about Denver since “Mayor Hickenlooper is one of the greatest fans of this program."

"Some would argue this document that mayors have signed is contradictory to our own Constitution," Maes concluded.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.