One of the most visible aspects with regard to urban mobility in Lisbon is the number of cycle paths that have emerged in the last few years - which add up to around 90 kilometres of cycling routes – as well as the number of bicycles on the streets of our capital city. GIRA, the shared bicycle network managed by EMEL, already has 600 vehicles available at over 80 stations, and is one of the mobility options provided by Lisbon City Council. Added to this is the backing of the acquisition of bicycles by residents, another initiative launched by the municipal authorities, which goes hand in hand with the Government programme with the same goal: to drastically reduce the number of cars on the city´s streets.
These and other projects have helped guarantee that Lisbon is well ranked in some of the criteria in the Intelligent Mobility Index, conducted by Microsoft in 29 European countries. Our capital was ranked second in terms of road quality, fourth with regard to the success of the urban mobility measures implemented, and fifth regarding the use of electric cars and the levels of concentration of fine particles in the air, which performed 36% above the average. Lisbon was placed sixth in the use of transport powered by renewable energy category, and seventh with regard to measures taken to deal with the volume of traffic. A commitment to providing greener means of transportation saw the city placed in the middle of the table.
The results of the Microsoft survey seem to portray a modern, efficient and sustainable city, however other indicators assessed have affected its performance. The time spent on the city's means of transport, despite alternatives such as electric scooters and bicycles, and public investment in urban mobility infrastructure have plunged Lisbon to the bottom of the table, resulting in the dissatisfaction of the city´s residents. According to the Microsoft index, only Athens has a level of dissatisfaction similar to that registered in Lisbon.
The pandemic has slowed down investment
In order to deal with the challenges that have arisen from this scenario, the researchers entrusted with the study recommend the definition of innovative strategies, designed and implemented by the city council, together with technology companies and public and private transporters. “The concept of mobility is moving towards a smarter system, driven by connectivity, real-time data and artificial intelligence”, said Paula Panarra, managing director of Microsoft, when asked about the conclusions of the survey.
The city council has executed projects over the last few years to make the city “greener” within the scope of the goals set for both environmental sustainability and mobility. Indeed, in 2020 Lisbon was awarded the title of European Green City, succeeding Oslo, in Norway, however the pandemic led to the postponement of some of the planned initiatives, whereby the visibility shifted to other cities that managed to progress despite the constraints.
The ZER (Reduced Emissions Zone) project, a car-free zone in the Baixa-Chiado area aimed at maximum CO2 reduction, has been temporarily stalled, although the municipal authorities have promised it will be concluded in 2021. As revealed by the city councillor for the environment, energy and climate, José Sá Fernandes, in a recent interview, the project has been put on hold due to the constraints of the pandemic, but will be back on track as soon as possible.