Why I Am Opposed to The Jonesboro MPO Draft

(To be voted on sometime in February, 2011)

In you google Principles of  Smart Growth Walkable Communities, you will find plans for ending urban sprawl through codes and regulations and  moving people into densely populated areas where they can walk rather than drive.   This stuff is all over the web if you know where to look and many citizens are waking up to where to look.  I wrote three articles in the past couple of years with these titles:  On the Road To A "Carless” Society,  Brummet  Says Amen to A World Without Cars, and  How Obama and Governor Beebe Are Weaning Us Off Cars.  See links to these at end of email. 1
The Jonesboro MPO plan includes numerous quotes that are very similar to quotes in the Smart Growth Principles. 2 How can anyone deny that the following quote  Smart Growth  will not be attained except by force, " Land use and community design plays a pivotal role in encouraging pedestrian environments. By building places with multiple destinations within close proximity, where the streets and sidewalks balance all forms of transportation, communities have the basic framework for encouraging walkability" 3 
Goal Number 1 in Chapter 9 of  the  Jonesboro MPO draft,  "Adopt and maintain policies, codes, and land-use patterns that promote walking,"  means the same things as the quote above by Smart Start and tells us it will be done through policies and codes, and land-use patterns that won't allow the citizens a choice.   Even  our own Arkansas journalist John Brummet said in an article in 2009, " Let me be candid: I know some liberals very well and these expressions of Michael Moore reflect exactly how they talk among themselves. They believe government policy can compel better and more responsible human behavior and force us, if that’s what it takes, to operate more co-operatively and efficiently [doing without cars]. They think cars are destructive to the earth both in what is required to run them and in what they emit." 4
This MPO plan as government policy will compel and force people to walk and bike rather than drive cars and move them into more dense areas rather than give them the choice as Mr. Ulkarim and others are saying.     
Among numerous others, the quotes below from the MPO draft further illustrate this point.
Develop a regional pedestrian and bicycle transportation plan for a safe and connective non-motorized transportation system.
Work towards specific short and mid-term implementation objectives of increasing trips by bicycle and foot by a certain percentage over 2010 levels.
Coordinate a comprehensive bicycle safety program between cities, counties, and state. [Quite a goal]
Continue developing and implementing walking and bicycle routes that provide access to schools.  Seek grant funding under the Safe Routes to School Program and others to finance such improvements." 5
Think about what those words really mean.  No one is going to use bicycle and walking for transportation (for recreation but not transportation) unless they are forced to.
How many children are they going to force to walk to school? It is not even safe for children to walk in our world today, or for others either, especially females.  With 28 registered sex offenders in Jonesboro, what parents feel their kids are safe walking to school?  We even have to put in security guards to guard them at school.  Just during the Thanksgiving week-end several of  the teenagers in our family and adults were playing basketball at the church gym off Highland.  My daughter and her future daughter-in-law went for a walk but called shortly and wanted assistance from our guys  because three guys in a truck had approached them and then followed them back to the church gym.
All this stuff on increasing sidewalks and bikeways, and bus, and transit is coming from the environmentalist like Michael Moore who said in an article:   "Goodbye, GM," June 1, 08, "The things we call cars may have been fun to drive, but they are like a million daggers into the heart of Mother Nature. To continue to build them would only lead to the ruin of our species and much of the planet." Information like this is all over the web as well.  See footnotes for articles below.
Yet government officials and the media  are deceiving the people and claiming it is being done for the  elderly, safe walking for children, health and exercise for citizens.  Some of these government officials are gaining prestige and notoriety like the may or Hernando, Mississippi who "was recognized by the White House for his contributions to providing a healthier environment for children in his town." He even received an invitation to the White House to meet Michelle Obama and had an interview with an NPR reporter about it that is posted on the web. 
Our own Jonesboro Sun totally misrepresented the last meeting of the Technical Advisory Committee by saying: "The MPO was established in 2003 to give local residents a greater voice," and that, "Several people voiced opposition to any federal funding for sidewalks." (Only one person out of 20 public citizens at the meeting  had a positive comment, and that person was the one cited in the Sun story.)   
The fact that the US Department of Transportation and at least 43 other national organizations want to make this stuff mandatory as you, Mr. Ulkarim sent in your email, is enough to let us know this stuff is not going to be voluntary.
These objections to the plan come from just two or three pages of the 124 page plan.  I have read only 2 chapters and skimmed some more of it as yet, but I know there are numerous other things in the plan that I would like to comment on but wanted to get these in by the next meeting which is four days from now. See this link for 3 pages of quotes from two chapters of the MPO Plan that concern me. http://www.wpaag.org/Jonesboro%20MPO%20quotes-bikeways-walkways-transit-equity_mpo_draft_235_met.htm
1. Brummet Says Amen to  A World Without Cars http://www.wpaag.org/brummett_says_amen_to__world_wit.htm
On the Road To A "Carless" Society and
How Obama and Governor Beebe Are Weaning Us Off Cars
2 Ten Smart Growth Principles:  
3.  Smart Growth Principles/Create Walkable Neighborhoods.
4 Link to John Brummet article World Without Cars – Amen
Link to Brummet's  article http://arkansasnews.com/2009/06/06/world-without-cars-amen/
5. MPO Draft Plan: http://www.jonesboro.org/MPO/documents/Combined%20Draft%202035%20MTP_1.pdf
Below are other articles on a society without cars.
Links to numerous articles relating to a society without cars.  http://www.smartgrowth.org/about/issues/resources.asp?resource=12&type=6 
Article: "Walking, parking, bikes, and rail in the post-automobile era"
Title of book The post-automobile city: legal mechanisms to establish the pedestrian friendly city by James A. Kushner. http://vikat.pdx.edu/search/?searchtype=c&searcharg=KF5535+.K87+2004
"The Smart Growth Network is a partnership between the EPA [United States Environmental Protection Agency] and a number of nonprofit, public, and governmental organizations working together to raise public awareness and promote smart growth principles. In its popular first volume of the manual Getting to Smart Growth, released in 2001 (a second volume was released in 2003), the Smart Growth Network suggested that towns should return to the designs of the early twentieth century. In those earlier times, land uses were more integrated, enabling people to walk to the corner store, to work, or to school. Today, such uses are more often placed so far apart they can only be reached by car. Numerous communities have sought to reverse this trend. Portland, Oregon, is an oft-touted model of sprawl containment. The city established an “urban growth boundary” in 1980 that protects nearby farmland surrounding the city and tightly limits development in outlying areas. Portland’s approach has not been without controversy.  From "Sprawl, The New Manifest Destiny? By Charles W. Schmidt 2004" http://www.ehponline.org/members/2004/112-11/EHP112pa620PDF.PDF
“Three things change people’s behavior at the societal level,” says Rees. “One is price; more good has been done by high energy prices about moving us towards thinking about sustainability than all the policy that any government anywhere has implemented in the last 10 years. Higher energy prices create real behavioral change.” http://ethisphere.com/2020-global-sustainability-centers/  Note:  Many leftists are celebrating the higher gas prices and are not concerned in the least that alternate fuel will cost so much.  It will only enhance their chances to move faster toward doing away with our cars and saving Mother Earth.
Debbie Pelley
2209 Indian Trails Street
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401
Phone 870-935-9438 Cell 870-919-1057
email:  dpelley@suddenlink.net

Posted December 13, 2010