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Pedestrian Network

Promoting Accessibility for All and improving the Pedestrian Network are priorities for the City of Lisbon, and the two focal points of our work.

We know there’s a lot to be done. And we believe there’s a lot to be learned through cooperation on an international level, namely through EU-funded projects.

If you’re a prospective partner, Lisbon can provide your project with a perfect setting for case study demonstration projects involving research, development, testing, public input and communication. We can offer facts, public input, and ongoing work to build on.

To learn more, do contact us directly: nucleo.acessibilidade@cm-lisboa.pt

The Facts: here’s what’s happening in Lisbon

We’re Ageing

Although Accessibility means safety, functionality and comfort for all, some members of the population are much more vulnerable to barriers. The ageing of Lisbon’s population puts a special emphasis (and urgency) on the importance of promoting accessibility in the pedestrian and public transport networks (which naturally overlap in several points).

We have approximately 600.000 residents. Almost a fourth (24%) is 65 years old and over. For every 100 residents under 15, there are already around 200 residents 65 and over. Although this proportion is much higher in some central historic areas (reaching as much as 400 for every 100), this ageing tendency is spreading to the whole city.

It’s tough being a Pedestrian…

Last year 735 pedestrians were hit by cars when crossing the street. This is a significant improvement relative to 1998 (first year on record, with a high of 1.631), but much has yet to be done.

The statistics of road accidents involving pedestrians clearly show four troubling facts:

  1. A pedestrian can get run over almost anywhere in the city (and not only in a few “dangerous” streets);
  2. There has been a steady decline in the number of pedestrians hit outside of designated crossings, but the number of pedestrians hit on designated crossings changed little or nothing since 1999, and presently accounts for almost half of all accidents involving pedestrians;
  3. On average, 9 out of 10 pedestrians hit on designated crossings were following the green light;
  4. The incidence of accidents involving elderly pedestrian victims is considerably higher (people aged 69 and over represented a total of 22,9% of all fatal and seriously injured victims in 2006 and 32,4% in 2007).

Research presently underway will soon allow to us to have a much more detailed understanding of this serious problem, and to act on these facts from a planning perspective.

Public Transport is not Accessible to all the ‘Public’

A national survey conducted among the population with visual and motor disabilities by the Consumer’s Defense Association with the help of several disability organizations showed that the “main problem” for most of those surveyed (71%) is “using public transport”.

Lisbon had the opportunity of testing a self-assessment tool developed by Project Mediate. All Public Transport (PT) operators and several representatives of the Disability community (as critical users) participated in this process.

Three conclusions stood out:

  1. Most PT operators showed clear awareness and a growing commitment towards promoting accessibility in their respective service;
  2. Various improvements are planned and under way, but a specific coordination effort is needed to make sure these improvements will benefit the network as a whole, allowing passengers to flow easily from one service to the next;
  3. Accessibility in the pedestrian network is of utmost importance, and the city must (and can) do much about it.

Public Input: here’s what the Community is saying

The development of Lisbon’s Pedestrian Accessibility Plan relies heavily on the input of city residents, especially of those more vulnerable to accessibility barriers.

Our Planning Team has know-how and experience in Public Participation, and will continue involving the community and collecting its input to feed both the plan as a whole and specific projects – involving users in a demonstration project would not be a problem, and we would like to share our experience (and gain some more from other partners).

“Seats at bus stops, and more time to cross the road”

Almost 200 residents aged 55 and over gathered at a public consultation session convened by our Planning Team to share their experiences and needs regarding the use of sidewalks and crosswalks, and access to public transport. All of them arrived autonomously at the public session (this means thee sample isn’t representative, because they’re much better off than the rest of the population with their age).


Photo: 200 citizens over 55 years old participated actively in an afternoon-long consultation session

Barriers to accessibility have a strong impact on their everyday lives. For example: 93% feel sidewalks are uncomfortable to walk on (more than half fell at least once), 83% need a longer lasting “green light” to cross the road, 54% have trouble getting on and off the bus, and 69% need a bench at the bus stop because they can’t stand for too long.

Much more data was collected at that session, and will be collected in the following months.

“What’s the name of this street – and the number on that bus?”

Persons with visual disability have the right – and the need – to access the names of streets. Classical signage (plaques on walls) isn’t providing them with that. So we researched not only their needs (through focus groups) but also the available technology (audio beacons, infrared, GPS, Bluetooth, etc.).

One conclusion that clearly came up was that what is really needed is a system that, taking advantage of the available technology, provides integrated access to information: “I can’t hold in one hand a gadget that tells me the name of the street, and in the other hand a gadget that tells me the number of the bus.”

Work to Build On: here’s what we’re doing

A good demonstration project should:

  1. Align with your project’s theme and goals;
  2. Build on work under development in Lisbon, namely in the framework of our Pedestrian Accessibility Plan;
  3. Provide your project and our Plan with opportunities to further common goals and to base our common work on solid (and abundant) data, sound research and real needs;
  4. Allow us to set clear goals that (and this is most important) have a good chance of being reached within the project’s budget and time frame.

Here are a few options. All of them would provide us with fine opportunities to:

  • Develop, test and refine tools (e.g. assessment tools);
  • Plan and implement demonstration projects and plans;
  • Monitor and evaluate impacts, using shared methodologies.

Here are a few possibilities:

A. Lisbon’s Pedestrian Accessibility Plan
Our Plan is currently under development, and is expected to undergo the political approval process in the winter of 2012.

It has three main objectives: prevent the creation of new barriers; adapt the existing infrastructure; and mobilize the community for a city for All.

It will set goals and measures for all of its five operational areas: public space, public transport, public buildings, private building permits and communication. We’re conducting a diagnosis in each of these areas.

The Plan will provide the City (and its partners) with an extensive portfolio of measures tied to clear dates and budgets and to specific political approval mechanisms that will ensure responsibility, rigor and commitment from elected officials and city departments in the budgeting and programming stages.

All measures to be included in the Plan and in its annual action proposals and budgets will be based on accessibility standards and inclusive design principles.

All work underway is solidly based on previous and current investments by the City in good-practice research, participatory planning efforts and, namely in the field of public transportation, in a strong commitment towards partnership with all public transport operators and representatives of the PT users community.

B. A fine area for intervention and demonstration

As we write, the diagnosis under way is, for example, GIS-mapping all barriers to accessibility in an extensive pilot area, that integrates several different street arrangements, crosses 11 neighborhoods (7 of which present the highest ageing rates in the city) and has several spots with very intense pedestrian traffic and commercial use.

It also connects 9 of the city’s 15 main PT interfaces, 15 subway stations (9 of which register the highest passenger volumes), 2 ferry stations (of the city’s 3), 5 railway stations (served by all suburban railway lines) and half of all local bus lines (Lisbon has 80).

Unfortunately, this pilot area also accounts for an important part of traffic accidents involving pedestrians: 424 took place there from 2004 to 2007.

We will soon have an important amount of information (demographic data, accessibility barriers, traffic volumes, traffic accidents, etc.) for a limited and central part of the city, which has a high proportion of residents that need accessibility, and that will be treated as a priority area for intervention.

This will provide us with the perfect conditions to program, implement and evaluate all sorts of measures in the full spectrum of your project – from pedestrian infrastructure (sidewalks, crosswalks, etc.) to traffic calming, bus stops, etc. Please note that we could work on the whole area or only in part of it (in order to make sure it fits your project’s budget).

C. Follow-Up on Mediate’s Self-Assessment

Testing the assessment tool developed by  Project Mediate provided us with the perfect ‘kick-off’ event for a process that has since continued. We kept up the effort and we now have a thorough diagnosis of the present situation regarding accessibility to Lisbon’s public transport network, and specific targets for its improvement, e.g., on-going planning and coordination between all stakeholders, interfaces where connections are made by the pedestrian network, pre-journey online information, bus stops, ticket-vending machines, elevators, public announcement systems and WCs in stations, network diagrams and wayfinding systems, access to vehicles (gaps for trains and subway, ramps and adapted stops for urban and suburban buses), in-vehicle information systems, etc.

Many of these targets are beyond the reach of the Municipality, but progress in many of them will require close cooperation with operators and a leading (and or facilitating) role for the Municipality.

A demonstration project could tackle any of these issues. Although it would be possible to look for a limited area to work on, it would be interesting to consider demonstration activities focused on the development of an online information system that could be used to help engage and coordinate efforts among PT operators, to monitor (and measure) accessibility throughout the network, to allow journey planning by those most vulnerable to barriers (e.g., a passenger using a wheelchair would be able to check on the current operating conditions of the subway station elevator, etc.) and provide hand-held wayfinding support for PT passengers and ‘connecting pedestrians’.

D. Sete Rios Interface

One of Lisbon’s main PT interfaces is Sete Rios, an area with roughly 92.000 square meters. It is served by local, suburban and national bus routes, subway and train (serving the larger metropolitan area).

An extensive audit of accessibility conditions in its pedestrian network (3-km long in total, including sidewalks, crossings and entrances to subway, bus and train stations) was recently conducted, pointing out, for example, the need to adapt 45 pedestrian crosswalks and to move or eliminate many more obstacles (and dangers) to pedestrian traffic.

All modes need improvements, and the project must better the use of this area by not only PT passengers but also cyclists and pedestrians (many of which are over 65, because with the ageing process people tend to drive less and rely more on the bus when travelling to their hometown).

This will be a truly multimodal project, and will provide us, in a rather short time frame, with the opportunity to develop, implement, test and evaluate the impact of several solutions that later we will probably extend to other interfaces, in the fields of pedestrian and bicycle traffic management and infrastructure, wayfinding systems in public space and inside PT infrastructure, access to bus stops and to and within subway and train stations, etc.


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Apoio Técnico
Plano de Acessibilidade Pedonal
Planos Anuais de Execução