Sustainable mobility has been gaining increasing prominence in Europe and Portugal, both by the impact of public investments in large cities (even in those characterized by a trend of little bicycle use) and by the recognition in public policies of their importance as a means of transport.
In Portugal, investments, plans and initiatives related to pedestrian and cycling happen, with a view to providing the cities with infrastructures and conditions adjusted to smooth mobility. The U-Bike Project, aimed at promoting the use of bicycles in academic communities and sustainable multimodal urban mobility measures, defined for Urban Centers of higher education, within the scope of the Strategic Urban Development Plans - PEDU, are two good examples of this type of programs.
15 institutions had their projects approved by Portugal 2020 under the U-Bike project, which included support for the acquisition of 3,234 bicycles (2.096 electric and 1.138 c0nventional) for use by academic communities. Its purpose is to change the behavior of mobility options, namely the option of soft modes rather than the use of individual motorized transport, in the university campuses and in the territories in which they are installed.
On the other hand, the higher-level municipalities have seen their Urban Development Plans approved, under the same program, which supports projects of three priority areas for sustainable urban development: urban mobility (priority 4.5), urban rehabilitation (priority 6.5) and integration of disadvantaged communities (priority 9.8). In terms of urban mobility, the program supports the construction of footbridges and cycle paths, the improvement of the interface network, the structuring of high-demand urban corridors, including prioritizing access to infrastructure by public transport among other soft modes. Reducing car traffic in short-distance journeys and encouraging citizens to adopt more sustainable behavior, such as the ciclable pedestrian mode, are two of the main objectives of these projects.
However, despite Portugal being considered one of the three largest bicycle manufacturers in Europe and despite the excellent weather conditions, some challenges still have to be overcome. Social prejudices still exist and infrastructures is still inadequate for bicycle. This leads to the fact that the two wheels continue not being the choice of the Portuguese in their daily journeys, leisure and sports.
It is thus fundamental to motivate civil society in favor of sustainable mobility. Such a challenge presupposes a profound change of behavior on the part of politicians, civil society and organizations with responsibility in this matter. It is in this context that the initiative - Compromise for the Bicycle (CPB) was launched by the Technological Platform of the Bike and Soft Mobility of the University of Aveiro, which the Municipality of Espinho joined.
With the motto, "More bicycles, better cities, healthier society and economy", this is an initiative that aims to increase the use rate of bicycles by 10% in commuting movements (which is currently at 0.05%) and reduce the number of individual vehicle trips by 10% (which stands currently at around 60%).
The initiative, coordinated by the University of Aveiro, counts on the support of institutions such as ABIMOTA, the Portuguese Cycling Federation, the Portuguese Cycling Federation and Bicycle Users, MUBI and Ciclaveiro. It aims to promote the regular use of the bicycle with its workers, customers, visitors, associates or the public in general. The initiative hence brings together organizations from various sectors. Various activities are carried out by the initiative, ranging from the creation of digital platforms, the holding of meetings, seminars, exhibitions and an annual national challenge. The challenge addresses municipalities and inter-municipal communities, educational and health institutions, public entities and organizations, private partnerships and civil society. According to information collected from the project manager, more than 150 organizations have joined, from the north to the south of the country, including municipalities, an inter-municipal community, companies, educational institutions, third sector organizations, informal organizations and twelve partners and supporters.
The participation of the municipality of Espinho in this movement falls within the scope of its sustainable urban mobility plan, whose main objectives are to increase the use of soft modes (pedestrian and cycle) and public transport. With this initiative, the municipality intends to generate a collaborative dynamic among the participants in order to stimulate the regular use of cycling by municipalities and visitors and to reverse the current paradigm of mobility patterns.