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What’s Wrong with the Government Wanting Us to Walk More for Better Health?

The Plan says it will:
“Promote a balanced transportation system that promotes the use of public transportation and bicycles, reduces congestion, and helps encourage residents to engage in healthy and active lifestyles. The transportation and mobility strategy identifies opportunities to improve mobility such as walking bicycling, and transit use, and to decrease the need to drive.” Upland’s Next Steps, Climate Action Plan, Overview Strategy, page 3-2

On the surface, residents being encouraged to engage “in healthy and active lifestyles” including walking and riding bikes doesn’t seem bad. Everyone for the most part, knows to have better health we need to move more.

But let’s examine the idea behind this government-sponsored “encouragement”.

The Plan will:

1. Promote a “balanced” transportation system FOR a “healthy lifestyle.” From the Mayor to the staff, they believe that there are too many cars in Upland. We are not “balanced” – therefore we don’t have a “healthy lifestyle.” So the Plan calls for the removal of the side access roads along Foothill to broaden the sidewalks (for the hundreds of new walkers) and provide turn-outs for more buses. There is even a plan for a Trolley on Foothill in the distant future. So where do all the cars go with this “encouragement?”

The authors of the Plan believe you will give-in and start walking, riding buses and bikes when the roads are too congested with these changes. Zoning is being changed to have limits on parking at businesses replacing the old standards that encouraged ample parking.

In reality, we will “vote” our choice by shopping elsewhere - especially online! If the Plan is trying to bring more revenue into the city, it won’t happen if we can’t drive and park our cars. In the long run, this government “encouragement” – forcing us to change our behavior - will be the death of many businesses in Upland when we go elsewhere.

2. Provide “opportunities to improve mobility.” Mobility is a very contested word these days. Environmental planners see improved mobility as walking, bike-riding and more public transportation. In Upland with a substantial senior population, improving mobility does not mean more walking for them. This plan does not provide "improved mobility" for me.

It is NOT the role of government to “encourage us” no matter how good the cause. It is NOT the role of government to change behavior. It is NOT their job to reduce the number of cars.

In fact, the Plan has reducing the “need” to drive as its main goal.

I cannot imagine young mothers with several children choosing to use the bus to go shopping and lug all her groceries home on the bus with children in tow while leaving their car at home. Walking to a bus stop and riding a bus is not easy for seniors. Will they want to give up their “mobility” to take a bus?

Think of the early Americans who were able to take a horse or wagon and move west or wherever they wanted. That was true freedom. Trains provided more mobility but then came the greatest vehicle of personal freedom – the car. Think of what a blessing our cars are to each of us.

More of us are having the heart-wrenching experience of taking the car keys away from an aging parent. “You are taking away our freedom,” they cry. A friend told me that his father now has to rely on others to take him places. He has a bus pick him up only to ride around to many stops before he gets to his destination only a mile from his home. His quality of life and freedom have been taken away.

Cars allow us the freedom to go anywhere, anytime. When governments want to take away our freedoms and reduce our quality of life, this is a form of tyranny.

Some City officials and staff may think they are well-intentioned and want Uplanders to become healthier. (Mayor wears a City T-shirt that says “Eat Less – Walk More” with the city logo.) But it is not their job to eliminate our “choices” and force us into a “healthier life style.” Even “encouragement” is not their job.

This new plan will actually thwart the upward mobility of thousands of residents.

If they say it will reduce our “green house gas” emissions, they are short sighted. Going back to buses and trolleys is OLD technology. The future of cars is emerging with no emissions, cars that drive themselves, and other fantastic features that will provide an even freer lifestyle and MORE mobility.


Let’s return to the values of freedom and prosperity through personal choice.