“We need streets for people, not more roads for cars. Portland needs to retake the lead as a America’s most sustainable city.”
— from the group’s Facebook page
The latest sign that bicycle activism in Portland continues to take new forms is a new group called Veloprovo, which is planning its inaugural ride this Sunday.
Here’s how the 55-member group describes themselves (via their Facebook page):
“Veloprovo are a group of cyclists and livable streets activists committed to enacting radical changes to the way we design, build, and enjoy urban social space.
We recognize the inherent harm that motorized traffic causes our health and human interactions, and the role that cars play in contributing to the climate crisis.
We realize that without grassroots organizing and activism, we cannot expect elected leaders to make the correct decisions needed to convert roads dominated by cars back into streets built for people.
We will strive for provocative, thoughtful action inspired by the Dutch provo movement and by Portland’s own livable streets activists of generations past.”
According to Wikipedia, the Dutch provo was a “counterculture movement in the mid-1960s that focused on provoking violent responses from authorities using non-violent bait.”
Veloprovo seems to have been organized and started by people who were active in the PDX Bike Swarm that emerged from the Occupy Portland movement. The group also shares roots with the recent Tar Sands protest rides that confronted Portland businesses who they say are profiting from ties to Big Oil.
The group emerges from a growing sense that our region’s established bicycling, planning, and environmental advocates have become too beholden to power and are too conservative and risk-averse as a result. “We need to continue building a radical livable streets movement,” reads a Veloprovo statement, “We need streets for people, not more roads for cars. Portland needs to retake the lead as a America’s most sustainable city.”
Veloprovo’s Facebook page includes links to a presentation by noted livable streets activist Mark Gorton and an article on Riverfront For People, a grassroots group that helped build support to tear out Harbor Drive (the old highway that once ran where Waterfront Park now sits) in the 1970s.
At their ride on Saturday, Veloprovo plans to tour various locations around the city they feel require “radical street-scape makeovers” (it’ll be a long ride) and then meet for food, drinks, and “discussions about future direct actions.”
Learn more about Veloprovo on their Facebook page.