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The Initiative for Bicycle and Pedestrian Innovation (IBPI) opened the Ann Niles lectures series Monday, August 26 with a talk by Jean-Francois Pronovost, the vice president for development and public affairs at advocacy group Vélo Québec.
The Ann Niles lecture series serves as a legacy to Ann Niles, who was a strong advocate for livable neighborhoods and served on many boards and committees related to transportation in Portland.
OTREC and IBPI are proud to be part of an ongoing collaborative effort to make Portland a more livable city.
Pronovost was preceded at Monday's lecture by OTREC director Jennifer Dill, who opened the talk with remarks about Niles' spirit of advocacy and passion, and the opportunity that Portlanders have to change their city for the better.
Jean-Francois Pronovost has been instrumental in building the world’s longest bicycle greenway, the Route Verte, which runs 3,100 miles through the province of Quebec.
He described the process of building partnerships with nonprofits, local businesses and community groups in order to make the greenway a reality.
Pronovosts's enthusiasm for bicycling was infectious; his presentation included highlights from Vélo Québec's annual rides, including a kids-only ride with no parents allowed, as well as photos from a province-wide celebration to mark the completion of the trail. His talk underscored the principle behind all of Vélo Québec's greenway efforts: Biking is fun.
Pronovost is convinced that building bike-friendlier cities is achievable with collaboration. Infrastructure, he said, is the key. Although Montreal already sets a high standard with its existing bicycle infrastructure, Vélo Québec is continually looking for ways to improve it.
During the question-and-answer session that followed the speech, several people wanted to know about the practical differences between Montreal and Portland, and how a fully connected greenway could be achieved in the Pacific Northwest.
Pronovost is vice president, development and public affairs for Vélo Québec, where he works on the focus, strategy and development of new projects and partnerships.
From 1989 to 2010, he was the executive director of the association division of Vélo Québec. In 1992, he acted as Chief Organizer of the first world-wide conference on bicycling, the Conférence Vélo Mondiale Pro Bike•Velo City, in Montréal. The Technical Handbook of Bikeway Design is among the many technical publications he has edited. Since 1995, he has been involved with the development of the Route Verte, a 5,000-kilometer bike route across Québec, and with the launch of several active transportation initiatives in collaboration with municipalities and the school network.