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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article12 March 20193 min read

New applied research project on Starter Cycling Cities in Portugal

In recent years cycling has entered the urban mobility agenda in many regions worldwide, demonstrating a growing policy and academic interest, pushed by a global commitment towards the transition to post-carbon societies.

Research on cycling has grown rapidly, focusing mainly on matured cycling contexts, the so-called ‘champion’ or ‘climber’ cities’. On the opposite side, ‘starter cycling cities’ seem to be in a particularly disadvantaged situation, having no cycling tradition nor technical know-how, with little research specifically focused on their problems and solutions. That is the case of Portuguese cities, which are all considered to be starter cities, with low cycling levels. Within this context, project ‘BooST – Boosting Starter Cycling Cities’ has been launched as an applied research project focusing specifically on starter cycling cities and seeking to bridge the current knowledge gap and provide technical know-how to allow them to reach the next level of bicycle use. It draws on existing fundamental research on the factors influencing cycling, notably natural and built environment characteristics, socioeconomic factors, attitudes and perceptions, and their integration into an overall analysis model, focused on the needs of starter cycling cities. 

The project will develop a Starter City Roadmap, in close collaboration with Portuguese local authorities and other stakeholders. The roadmap will provide a toolkit for starter cities comprising three main tools:

  1. An assessment framework of the Gross Potential for Cycling (GPC), which identifies the city areas with higher and lower potential for cycling. This framework combines the assessment of target groups according to their predisposition to cycle (based on socioeconomic and behaviour factors) and the target areas more suitable for cycling (categorised by their geographical and built environment characteristics). It focuses on the gross potential, instead of user satisfaction or infrastructure assessment commonly used for ‘champion cities’. The tool provides spatial visualisation of cycling potential through detailed maps, as well as an average GPC, positioning the city in a national ranking of cycling potential. It identifies areas with cycling potential, even within cities with an overall low gross cycling potential, allowing targeted and customised policies for areas with differing potential within the same city.
  2. An assessment framework of the Economic Value for Cycling (EVC), which builds on existing assessment frameworks developed for champion cities. This framework innovates by considering the specificities of starter cities. It aims to reveal the economic value of cycling, both at the local and national levels, considering the environmental, energy, and health dimensions, among other considerations.
  3. A Cycling Measures Selector (CMB) for supporting the process of identifying and packaging the mobility management measures best suited for starter cycling cities, tailored to their GPC and specific objectives. The Starter City Roadmap and its tools will be available in the form of a manual, an interactive web page and through various workshops, involving local authorities and other stakeholders in the development and validation of the tools.

BooST will empower local authorities and urban planners by providing the technical know-how to support the transition to a cyclable city.

The project brings together several experts and builds on prior research on Mobility Management at;

The project (ref. POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031479) is funded by FEDER funds through COMPETE2020 – Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI) and by national funds (PIDDAC) through FCT/MCTES.

If you wish to learn more, check the project website and look for social media updates on facebook and LinkedIn



Publication date
12 March 2019
  • Walking and cycling
  • Portugal