History Lab for Sustainable Urban Mobilities: Lisbon's cycling policies
“Os 10 mandamentos fundamentais de toda a circulação”, Boletim Oficial do Automóvel Club de Portugal 15, 1930: 9, 10
"The public road belongs to everyone. The public road is only for transport purposes. It is not a place of conversation, not a place of play, not a kennel, not a chicken coop."
"The speed itself has no danger and has no limits. Only relative speed is dangerous. The relative speed depends exactly on the infinitely variable conditions and contingencies in which the vehicle finds itself."
Aeroporto da Portela (anos 1950s) (foto: António Passaporte), PT/AMLSB/PAS/002609, Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa
Hi-BicLab has an interdisciplinary team with prior and on-going research on the history and the present of Lisbon’s urban mobility and socio-territorial inequalities, and will promote cross-fertilisations between academic disciplines such as history of technology and mobility, geography, transport economics, public policies, societal engagement, architecture and urban planning. Furthermore, it partners with policymakers, activists, and citizens. It counts on two leading historians as consultants who have prior research and called for further investigations into mobilising a “usable past” to foster future sustainable urban mobilities (Di10; Oz16), and with whom we have closely worked with.
Despite Portugal being the largest bicycle producer in the European Union (Eurostat data for 2019), Lisbon’s cycling modal share is still rather low (below 1% in 2017) when compared to the European average (8%) (Fé20). By applying transition measures to encourage cycling – such as implementing cycling infrastructure and bicycle-sharing systems (Fé20) – Lisbon’s Municipality has engaged with pro-cycling agendas during the last decade. In fact, was hosted the European Cycling Federation’s Velo-City Conference in September,2021.
Transport studies have shown that the “hilliness” of the city doesn’t explain its low cycling modal share: 54% of the streets are almost flat, while 75% are “good enough for cycling” (below 5% grade) (Fé19; Fé20). Besides Lisbon’s perceived hilliness, other factors that might currently hinder the cycling modal share increase are starting to be identified, such as types of pavement, sense of unsafe bicycling or car drivers’ behaviour (Fé19). Identifying these barriers aims at supporting the design of policies to increase cycling levels in cities such as Lisbon with “low cycling maturity” (i.e., cities with low cycling modal share and little cycling infrastructure) (Fé19).
These alleged low “matured” cities are usually considered to have no historical experience with cycling (Fé19). But is this really so? History evidence that cycling mobilities were part of the past in cities like Lisbon. Furthermore, it also shows that the factors that have limited its use are historically rooted processes.
[Avenida de Paris] (c. 1952), PT/AMLSB/SPT/000048, Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa
Hi-BicLab aims at contributing with insights from Lisbon’s mobility
history to current policies based on sustainability and inclusivity. Understanding the city, its materiality, agency and fluxes, in a historical perspective and in an interdisciplinary scope, from urban planning to bike lanes and transport investment, is necessary to understand the “path-dependency” generated by the current car-centred socio-cultural-technical arrangement, and to collectively envision (and design) safer, more inclusive, cleaner, quieter, and more fulfilling cities (Ba07).
= make historical knowledge already existent accessible and legible to non-academic audiences.
= identify overarching questions through interdisciplinary work (connecting history to present day relevant questions in transport geography and economics);
= identify what the stakeholders know and want to know about the past.
= create databases with historical sources and choose key visual and textual documents.
= promote the creation of a history lab, following previous experiences of history labs and societal engagement practices.
= During Hi-BicLab a book on the history of Lisbon’s cycling mobilities will be finished and published. Project members will publish two peer-reviewed journal articles, disseminate the
project results in four academic conferences, a website and social media. = The project also promotes a history lab through the organisation of one roundtable and four workshops
with the abovementioned partners.
= Finally, we aim at making this project a pilot project to be applied in other cities with low cycling maturity in Portugal and elsewhere.
Local do Jardim do Campo Grande reservado a aluguer de bicicletas
(foto: João Hermes Cordeiro Goulart) (1969), PT/AMLSB/CMLSBAH/PCSP/004/JHG/003348, Arquivo Municipal de Lisboa
M. Luísa Sousa (IP) (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA)
David Vale (Co-IP) (CIAUD, FAUL)
Diego Cavalcanti Araújo (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA)
Jaume Valentines-Álvarez (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA)
João Machado (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA)
Bernardo Pereira (GOVCOPP, UA)
Hugo Silveira Pereira (CIUHCT, FCT NOVA
Schipper, F., Emanuel, M., & Oldenziel, R. (2020). Historicizing Sustainable Urban Mobility. In M. Emanuel, F. Schipper & R. Oldenziel (Eds.), A U-Turn to the Future. Sustainable Urban Mobility since 1850 (pp. 1-26). New York: Berghahn Books.
1º Journal Club: Debate da introdução do livro
"U-Turn to the future"
2º Journal Club: Debate do artigo
"The Social Cost of Automobility, Cycling and Walking in the European Union"
Gössling, Stefan, Andy Choi, Kaely Dekker, e Daniel Metzler. 2019. "The Social Cost of Automobility, Cycling and Walking in the European Union". Ecological Economics 158 (Apr.): 65–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2018.12.016.
Storme et al, "Citizen Science and the Potential for Mobility Policy – Introducing the Bike Barometer". Case Studies on Transport Policy 10 (3): 1539–49. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cstp.2022.05.013.
3º Journal Club: Debate do artigo
"Citizen science and the potential for mobility policy"
4º Journal Club: debate dos artigos "Between Protest and Counter-Expertise" e "Tilting at Nuclearmills?"
Henk-Jan Dekker. 2022. "Between Protest and Counter-Expertise: User Knowledge, Activism, and the Making of Urban Cycling Networks in the Netherlands Since the 1970s". NTM Zeitschrift Für Geschichte Der Wissenschaften, Technik Und Medizin 30 (3): 281–309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00048-022-00341-y.
E a introdução (pp. 312-315) de Jaume Valentines-Álvarez, "Tilting at ‘Nuclearmills’? Wind Energy, Grassroots Networks and Technologies of Protest in Spain, 1976–1984", do mesmo número temático. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00048-022-00343-w.
5º Journal Club: debate do artigo "Evaluating the impact of land use on travel behaviour"
Bert van Wee. 2011. "Evaluating the Impact of Land Use on Travel Behaviour: The Environment versus Accessibility". Journal of Transport Geography, 19 (6): 1530–33. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2011.05.011.
6º Journal Club: Debate do artigo
"More than walking and cycling: What is ‘active travel’?"
Simon Cook, Lorna Stevenson, Rachel Aldred, Matt Kendall, e Tom Cohen. 2022. "More than Walking and Cycling: What Is ‘Active Travel’?" Transport Policy 126 (Set.): 151–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tranpol.2022.07.015.
49th annual meeting of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC), On-line, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 24-25/9, 15-16/10/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, “History of technology-based decisions: how recovering forgotten urban mobilities of the past might contribute to policies in cities with low cycling maturity”
International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (T2M) 20th Annual Conference, Universidade de Pádua, 21-24/9/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, “Setting a History Lab for future Sustainable Urban Mobilities. Hi-BicLab research project on Lisbon's cycling policies”
Early Career Scholar Plenary Lectures, The Tenth Conference of the European Society for the History of Science (ESHS), Université libre de Bruxelles, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 7-10/9/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, “From transport to mobility: alternatives, resistance, justice, and the mobilisation of the history of science and technology”,
4.a Conferência Campus Sustentável (CCS 2022), Politécnico de Leiria, 26-27/10/2022
M. Luísa Sousa e Francisco Ferreira, “Educação e mapeamento da mobilidade sustentável no Campus da Caparica”.
Access the presentation by clicking on the link below
Outreach and Talks
NOVA Sustainability Week 2022, Reitoria da UNL, 13/9/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, Apresentação do projecto “Hi-BicLab – Laboratório de História para Mobilidades Urbanas Sustentáveis: Políticas cicláveis de Lisboa”
EXPO FCT, 27/4/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, “Pedalar com a História, Mobilizar a Cidade! Vem dar-nos a tua opinião!”
V Encontro Nacional de Grupos Promotores da Mobilidade Urbana em Bicicleta, Aveiro, 25-27/3/2022
M. Luísa Sousa, Apresentação do projecto “Hi-BicLab – Laboratório de História para Mobilidades Urbanas Sustentáveis: Políticas cicláveis de Lisboa”,
"Pedalar com Histórias! Mobilizar Lisboa", passeio científico enquadrado nas actividades da semana de Ciência e Tecnologia 2022 da Ciência Viva, realizado em Lisboa, a 20/11/2022, que contou com 30 participantes.
Cada vez mais pessoas a pedalar em Lisboa , conhecida pelas suas colinas, têm vindo a mostrar que há necessidades concretas de uma cidade mais ciclável. Factores como o aumento da extensão das ciclovias, o sistema de bicicletas partilhadas e uso de eléctricas, ou iniciativas variadas propondo novas práticas e visões sobre a cidade têm sido apontados para esta, aparentemente, nova realidade. Mas será que a bicicleta passou a construir cenas quotidianas, em Lisboa, apenas a partir do ano de 2001 em diante, quando se começaram a construir ciclovias na cidade?
Como resposta, propusemos um passeio científico que busca contribuir na construção de uma visão histórica sobre o uso da bicicleta em Lisboa, numa perspectiva activa, ou seja, convidando as pessoas a pedalarem connosco e a serem protagonistas do processo de reflexão sobre o espaço urbano. Para tal, iremos percorrer dois tipos de itinerários: um itinerário físico, essencialmente por ciclovias, fácil de pedalar, entre o Campo Grande e a Baixa; um itinerário imaginário, aprofundado em paragens durante o percurso, em locais onde, através de recursos visuais, faremos evocações históricas comparando “as Lisboas” dos passados e dos presentes.
Project Interuniversity Center for the History of Science and Technology (CIUHCT),
DCSA, UNL Faculty of Science and Technology
Caparica Campus, Edif. VII, Floor 2
2829-516 Caparica, Portugal
Hi.BicLab project is funded by national funds through the FCT– Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., «EXPL/FER-HFC/0847/2021»