Lifting restrictive measures is something that is being done very carefully, but we are all already thinking about the day when we can finally go out and breath without a mask on. In the meantime, in the past 13 months of permanent state of emergency, cities changed. The most visible side of this transformation are the bicycle paths that grew practically everywhere in the country. From north to south, from coast to inland, bicycles became the fastest growing transportation mean during the pandemic.
When we go back out to go to work, shopping or walking without restrictions, we will certainly give more attention to the lighter and more sustainable means of transportation. And the reason is simple – the bicycle paths and parking are more accessible than ever. Lisbon currently has 181,5Km of bicycle paths, leading this movement, but many other cities also jumped forward. Porto is now counting with 54Km of exclusively bicycle lanes and Cascais is near 90Km. Coimbra and Aveiro are close to reaching 40Km and Faro is pedalling towards the 25Km with new paths on the work in the next couple of years.
Lisbon almost doubled its network during this past year, extending bicycle paths in six main axes. With 105Km already built before the pandemic, the cycling lanes increased 76,5Km between July 2020 and March this year. The support programs for buying bicycles is still available. After almost 3.500 applications received up until the end of 2020, the Lisbon municipality launched in April the second phase of support. The measure now also includes accessories and repair, with figures going up to 500€ for those who bought bicycles since the beginning of this year.
Widen the shared service is also part of the plan to incentivize micro-mobility within the city. Gira currently counts 750 bicycles and 80 stations, but EMEL – the municipal mobility and parking company – wants to increase its network adding about 2 thousand new bicycles through a public contest to be launched still in 2021. In parallel, there are plans for 13 parking lots for a total of 200 bicycles in several neighbourhoods of the Portuguese capital. The first is already running in Lumiar.
In Cascais’ bordering municipality, bicycles also gained more terrain with the new path of Avenida da República, just inaugurated in the second week of April. The investment of about 650 thousand Euros, 50% of which reimbursed by the European Union, allowed to extend a 3Km path between Estoril and Alcoitão. The local authority promises to soon begin the construction of two more lanes: one in Tires, of 3,3Km and another one also in Alcoitão with 2,7Km. Once done, it will give Cascais near 90Km of cyclable lanes.
And, if there are no delays in the plans of the Loures Municipality, in 2023 it will be possible to bicycle or walk from Cascais to Vila Franca de Xira, always bordering the Tejo river. The boardwalk, long 6,2Km, will be sustained through stakes over marshland and will have a sinuous path with several interest points to incentivize long walks between different landscapes, elevated or lowered by the riverside area.
In the last months of the pandemic, Porto conquered 35Km of bicycle paths, 130 spaces for bicycles in surveyed parks and 72 bicycles with 521 parking spaces. The network has now a total of 54Km linking practically the entire city with bicycle paths or pedestrian lanes connecting the eastern with the western part of the city. There are also 210 sharing places settled during the confinement period and fleets with 2.100 bicycles and scooters managed by three operators – Hive, Bird and Circ.
Coimbra is currently working on the installation of five self-service workshops – with essential equipment and tools for small reparations – and also 83 parking lots for bicycles. The new infrastructures will be distributed along the 20Km of cyclable lanes, crossing the main touristic spots, public transportation hubs, hospitals, schools, health and sport complexes, commercial and services points. The municipality also hopes to start this year with the construction of further 18Km of bicycle paths along the peripheric side of the Mondego river, connecting the towns linked by the 111 National Road.
Aveiro, on the other hand, is close to reaching 40Km of bicycle paths. There are only 2,5Km left, to be completed in the São Jacinto area. The investment, of circa 130 thousand Euros, aims to link the ferryboat pier with the seaside resort and Natural Reserve of São Jacinto. Hoping to conclude the work by 2023, the municipality aims, with this path, to connect to the Torreira bicycle path, foreseeing the connection to Furadouro in order to finally reach the whole infrastructure of the Aveiro estuary bicycle paths.
In Setúbal the small distances were the starting point of the operation Ciclop7. The goal is to intervene in 17 lanes that extend through 27Km of pedestrian or bicycle paths between the main river, road and rail stations. The works are in progress, covering an area of 3Km between the end of the Avenida 5 de Outubro and the northern border of the municipality. Expected to be concluded by the end of the year, the project includes the construction of a new bicycle path throughout the entire course, that will integrate the bicycle network of the city with connections to Avenida Europa and Avenida Antero de Quental, and in the near future, a path towards the Palmela Municipality.
Pedalling from north to south, we’ve finally reached the tip of the country, to end with the construction of the new Faro urban bicycle path, which is still in progress. In the beginning of next year, it will be possible to bike along Avenida Calouste Gulbenkian, allowing cyclists to circulate in one of the busiest stretches of the city until the sport complex, where another path starts to end in the Commercial Port. The project entails a profound restructuring of the surrounding area in order to keep cyclists far from cars, but this is not the only path to be inaugurated in 2023.
The bicycle path between the Faro Beach and the Airport it’s also being constructed, and it will integrate the Algarve Ecovia, an infrastructure of the EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route, that will connect the European path between Norway and Portugal. In total, it’s about 4Km of bicycle paths that will join the 10Km already built in the city. But the project will only be completed with the 15Km paths that the municipality has planned for the next few years.
6 cities looked closely
Lisbon – The Portuguese capital earned 76.5Km of bicycle paths during the pandemic, reaching 181,5Km of cyclable lanes.
Porto – It has 54Km of exclusively bicycle lanes, of which 35Km were constructed throughout the confinement months.
Cascais – After completing the paths of Tires and Alcoitão in September, the bicycle paths of Cascais will expand over 90Km.
Coimbra – The municipality wants to build 18Km of bicycle paths, going towards a total of 38Km of lanes for cyclists.
Aveiro – In 2023, with a bicycle path to the urban area of São Jacinto, the Town Hall hopes to reach the goal of 40Km of cyclable lanes.
Faro –The four Km under construction will increase the network up to 14Km, but Faro hopes to reach 30Km with paths already designed.