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Maes says bike share threatens 'personal freedoms'

6:59 AM, Aug 5, 2010   |    comments
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Maes said last week that an international environmental group is promoting Denver's B-Cycle program and it is part of a "greater strategy to rein in American cities under a United Nations treaty."

The group to which Maes was referring, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), is an association with more than 1,200 communities as members, half of which are in the United States.

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper's spokesman Eric Brown told 9NEWS the city joined ICLEI in 1992, 11 years before Hickenlooper was elected.

"Denver and at least 15 other Colorado communities are members of the international organization," Brown said. "The group's goal is 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. Learning from others, collaborating to make smart decisions and applying what makes sense for individual communities are efforts every city should pursue."

Brown said Denver has limited contact with ICLEI. According to Brown, ICLEI has no connection to the B-Cycle program.

Maes made the comments at a rally where he criticized Hickenlooper's initiative to increase bicycling in Denver through the bike-sharing program. B-Cycle allows people to use about 400 bicycles at dozens of stations around the city for a daily or monthly fee.

"This is bigger than it looks like on the surface, and it could threaten our personal freedoms," Maes said in comments that were first reported Wednesday by The Denver Post.

Maes' campaign said the candidate was illustrating the "larger picture of what this organization represents" and its "extreme" views on global warming.

Wednesday, Maes couldn't tell 9NEWS exactly what issue he had with ICLEI or Denver's membership in the program.

"I haven't even had the time to visit the terms of the agreement that Mayor Hickenlooper has signed off on," Maes said in a phone interview. "I am gonna beg a little patience from the media, so I can study the details of this program and then make a much more informed commentary about it."

Nate Strauch told The Associated Press that Maes was trying to say that the biking initiative is a "gateway program" being pushed by ICLEI on cities that eventually lead to extreme measures, such as the promotion of abortions and population control.

Maes is facing a primary challenge Aug. 10 against Republican Scott McInnis. The winner will face Hickenlooper, a Democrat, in November.

Both have already faced their share of controversies. McInnis has been accused of plagiarism and Maes has seen the largest election fine in recent state history, along with delinquent filings for his business in each of the last four years.

Maes said he thought promoting more bicycling was pretty harmless at first, but he realized later "that's exactly the attitude they want you to have."

"The bike program in it of itself, if that's all it is, I wouldn't be opposed to it," Maes told 9NEWS. "What I am opposed to is if it's part of a bigger program that the mayor has signed on to as part of a UN program. That I would be opposed to."

"It's all part of this population control mentality that we as humans are the disease," Strauch said. "He never said that biking is inherently wrong."

Maes told 9NEWS he encouraged the media and the viewers to learn more about ICLEI.

9NEWS Political Analyst Floyd Ciruli says Maes may alienate some voters with his stance.

"While it may help to some extent among some primary voters that indeed feel that we are losing our personal freedoms," Ciruli said. "His problem is that in the general election, if you became too identified with very narrow niche that are kind of called a conspiracy theory issues, you have a difficult time addressing the voters in general."

Bicyclists who gathered outside the state Capitol on Wednesday to ride with cycling champion Lance Armstrong weren't impressed with Maes' view.

"It's sad that they play politics with something that's good and healthy and pro-environment," said Ron Beall, 48, of Denver. "Isn't there enough issues that we can talk about instead of stereotyping bicyclists? It's crazy."

Hickenlooper for Colorado campaign spokesman George Merritt said, "Here we are on the day that Lance Armstrong and the Governor announcing one of the nations largest bike races will be here in Colorado and we're talking about conspiracy theories. Bikes are a great mode of transportation, there are a big reason why Colorado is known as a healthy fun state, but clinging John's support of cycling in all its forms with some international bike conspiracy is really pretty silly."

McInnis spokesman Sean Duffy told 9NEWS, "We have no comment about Mr. Maes' statements on the United Nations or the Denver bike program."

For more information about ICLEI, visit

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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