Portland groups now part of national ‘Freeway Fighters Network’

Freeway Fighters Network map
The members of the Freeway Fighting Network. Green icons indicate highway/ramp removal efforts, purple icons indicate highway caps and the crossed out circles indicate expansion prevention campaigns. (Source: FFN)

It’s been a big couple of weeks for Portland’s anti-freeway activists. Last week, the New York Times covered our local coalitions fighting against the Oregon Department of Transportation’s I-5 Rose Quarter freeway expansion, and this week marks the year anniversary of the Youth vs ODOT anti-freeway protests.

“Freeway expansion is antithetical to any coherent urban policy in America.” — Aaron Brown, No More Freeways

Now, Portland-area activists with No More Freeways and the Albina Vision Trust are part of a new effort to establish a national movement of anti-freeway activists. The Freeway Fighters Network (FFN), which launched this week, will track the more than 60 local anti-freeway efforts and coordinate national-level collective action.

The FFN map illustrating all the different groups fighting freeways is a powerful visual and provides more information about what, exactly, these groups are protesting. “Anti-freeway” can mean many different things, from pushing for lids over existing freeways, to morphing interstates into boulevards, burying freeways or preventing expansions, stopping projects completely, and so on.

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Freeway protester Aaron Brown carries a green sign with an anti-freeway message. He's wearing a shirt with two buttons on it and is speaking to someone out of frame.
Aaron Brown at a freeway fighting protest in 2019. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Aaron Brown, a co-founder of No More Freeways, tells BikePortland he sees this as the opportunity to build a national understanding that “freeway expansion is antithetical to any coherent urban policy in America.”

“I’m eager to work with CNU and other community partners to ensure the lessons learned in Portland’s freeway fights inspire visions for alternatives to freeway expansions in communities across the country,” Brown says.

Earlier this month, anti-freeway activists from different parts of the U.S. (who are now represented on the FFN map) came together at the YIMBYtown conference to share their stresses and successes.

And Brown says now is the perfect time to work together and make big strides against the freeway industrial complex.

“With many of these highways reaching the end of their designed lifespan, it is time to repair the damage and advance a more sustainable paradigm for American transportation.”

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SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
7 months ago

Maybe it should go in this order:
1. provide usable alternatives to car use for the 90% of the population that drives
2. start reducing the need for additional freeways and/or reduce the amount currently have

I can only imagine doing it in reverse order isn’t going to gain much traction with the car driving public out there.

We, in this blog/forum, can pontificate all we want about how superior we are with our biking, walking, etc. but until the rest of the road users have usable and viable alternatives (TriMet ain’t it in its current form) you might as well be pounding sand.

It’s the 90% that need their minds changed, not the folks that already agree with you.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  SolarEclipse

no one has said anyone feels “superior” so I don’t know where you’re getting that other than projecting your own stuff.

How do you think movements build enough power to convince “the 90%” to change their mind about anything? They build as much power as they can from within the choir.

Why do you think we can’t do #1 on your list above? Because not enough powerful people are standing up to the freeway industrial complex and calling them on their bullshit.

And I personally don’t care about “gaining traction” with the “car driving public” because the car driving power structure doesn’t give care about humanity whatsoever and is selfish and will destroy everything for their greed and personal convenience if left to their own devices.

Thanks for the comment.

Granpa
Granpa
7 months ago

Solar makes valid points. No one is claiming to be superior, but this blog is well represented by posters who expound from a holier-than-thou position of owning the moral high ground.
And the point about the 90%, I think Solar was describing house fraus taking kids to school or commuting office workers who have no VIABLE alternatives to driving, not the Board of GM or Oregon’s OTC who may represent the greed lobby in this blog’s mythology.
No one is disputing the societal damage or environmental catastrophe wrought by automobile dependency or the need for change. The overwhelming majority of society is dependent on cars and it’s infrastructure. Humanity has dug a deep hole and castigating society’s minions who are just trying to live in the world as it exists will not get us out of that hole.

joan
7 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

It’s a challenge to both fight these huge infrastructure projects and to help others see a different vision for the world. I’m not sure we can expect every activist to do both those things.

rainbike
rainbike
7 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

I often agree with Granpa, but can we stop calling people “who are just trying to live in the world as it exists” minions? Especially when some insist on calling people living in and degrading our parks and public spaces “neighbors”. Be more kind. We’re all just trying to get by.

Granpa
Granpa
7 months ago
Reply to  rainbike

I miss used the word minion. I thought it meant rank-and-file or general population and not underling or henchmen. I have not seen the movie Dispicable Me.

rainbike
rainbike
7 months ago
Reply to  Granpa

Please forgive me for assuming a partisan intent. I should be more kind.

ivan
ivan
7 months ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Maybe it should go in this order:
1. provide usable alternatives to car use for the 90% of the population that drives
2. start reducing the need for additional freeways and/or reduce the amount currently have

How do either of those things conflict with declining to enlarge an existing freeway? Personally I think I-5 should be ripped out from the Marquam to the Rose Quarter, but the folks we’re talking about in this post are called, you know, No More Freeways. It feels a lot like you used this post as a jumping-off point to just bitch about other commenters, even though it has nothing to do with the work these folks are actually doing. (To say nothing of Albina Trust, which is working to right a historic wrong and not using a highway slush fund to try to justify it.)

Who’s pontificating again?

soren
soren
7 months ago
Reply to  ivan

…the folks we’re talking about in this post are called, you know, No More Freeways

They may call themselves that but their actual goal is to preserve the existing freeway (and add a cap).

Will
Will
7 months ago
Reply to  soren

Uh, that might come as news to Aaron Brown.

soren
soren
7 months ago
Reply to  Will

They may theoretically want to abolish all freeways but preservation of the rose quarter freeway status quo has been the primary goal of the establishment-oriented DNP corporation they co-founded. This can be seen quite clearly in their participation in a coalition that quickly acquiesced to expansion as long as a cap was also built.

I personally don’t care what “no more auxiliary lanes” may privately want to happen (or what their inner motivations may be), I only care about what they do or say publicly.