“The cities of Liberty, Pickens and Easley want to construct bike trails between the cities, and they want a government grant, ” said Junius Smith, president of Conservatives of the Upstate. “This government grant is part of sustainable development.”
Smith said the cities’ plans to add bike trails could be part of the United Nation’s plot of sustainable development. Smith often talks at county council meetings about Agenda 21, a UN-sanctioned comprehensive plan to organize how humans impact the environment throughout the world.
“What I’m concerned about is that the bicycle trails are part of a large plan,” Smith said during an interview with The Progress. “If you want to know about the large plan, all you have to do is Google in ‘sustainable development,’ and you will see that the bicycle trails are a part of Agenda 21, which was put in at the Kyoto Conference and then later at the one in South America. People are fooled by the fact that this is some insignificant little thing that is going on.”
He also questioned the cities’ ability to have bike paths in the unincorporated areas of the towns.
“You are the elected officials,” he told county council representatives during a recent council meeting. “Who’s going to be our elected officials when this crisscrosses the county?”
Pickens County Taxpayers Association President Dennis Reinert said he hopes the Pickens County bike trails don’t emulate the ones in Greenville.
“I saw what they’re doing to the bicycle lanes in Greenville,” Reinert said during a recent county council meeting. “They’re causing a disaster. The traffic is just unbelievable.”
Reinert shares Smith’s concerns regarding Agenda 21, adding that he believes sustainable development leaders want to limit the middle class.
“Maurice Strong, the secretary general of the Rio (de Janeiro) Earth Summit, which was the birthplace there of the sustainable development Agenda 21, specifically said: ‘The affluent middle class … consumes too much meat, uses too many fossil fuels, uses too many appliances, using too much air conditioning,” Reinert said during an interview with The Progress.
Reinert and Smith also questioned whether the bike paths would encroach upon peoples’ personal property.
“You can’t seize property to build a bike path,” Smith said. “Now, you might be able to seize property and put in a utility that all people use, but you can’t seize property and put a bike path out there.”
He referenced a gubernatorial candidate in Colorado, who is warning that the bike trails in Colorado could stomp on peoples’ personal freedoms and property rights.
Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Maes, a Tea Party favorite, warns that the group that is promoting bike trails could be part of a “strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty,” according to the Denver Post.
Smith agrees with Maes.
“So let me just tell you, I don’t want bike paths all over Pickens County,” Smith said.
Reinert admitted that he once thought the concerns about Agenda 21 and sustainable development were merely a “conspiracy theory,” but he became convinced that it’s reality after studying the issue.
Smith said he hadn’t heard about it until a year ago, adding he realizes the uphill battle he faces as he tries to inform people about Agenda 21.
“I would have thought they were kooks,” he said. “I would have said they didn’t know what they were talking about.”
Christine de Vlaming, a member of the bicycle committee in Pickens County, said she was surprised to hear of the criticisms. It hadn’t even occurred to her that the bike trails could become involved in an ideological battle, she said.
She also said the bicycle trails should only present something positive to the community.
“What the cities themselves are all interested in are healthy cities, healthy lifestyles, tourism amongst us, interconnectivity amongst us, all seen as a positive thing,” she said.
But the plan has nothing to do with trying to get fewer people using automobiles or “forcing people off the road,” de Vlaming said. If anything, it should only give residents more transportation options, she added.
“I think that people have a lot of fears when there’s change, but actually the changes are good for the health and safety of the community, because they actually help us slow down traffic a bit — traffic calming is what it’s called,” she said.
But adding the lanes between the cities is still in the beginning stages, she said. So far, Easley has only 1.5 miles of bike lanes.
de Vlaming said there aren’t any plans to seize anyone’s property through imminent domain.
She said that although the committee hopes to be able to eventually add bike lanes between cities, it’s unlikely that it will involve annexation in the unincorporated areas of the county.
She also said that members of the Taxpayers Association and Conservatives of the Upstate are invited to attend the bicycle meeting.
James London, the only Democrat on county council, said the bike lanes between Clemson and Central have worked well and not caused problems with imminent domain.
“It works out fine, they use the right of way,” said London, who represents the Clemson area of Pickens County. “They use it within the cities, the cities join one another. And if it connects in cities, there’s a public right of way that’s already there.”
London also said that the Clemson/City bike lanes did not include annexation.
The cities have cooperated with the county and with DOT as they developed the bike lanes, and they were done in a safe way.
“I do not think that you’re going to have to annex property between the other towns,” London said.