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Torres Vedras (Portugal)

Located in the West Region, the Torres Vedras territory has been populated by men since the early times. From 1809, Torres Vedras offered the name to the greatest defensive system in history with effective defence, built to face Napoleon’s troops and that would be the bulwark of defence of the capital: the Lines of Torres Vedras.

The village and the county grew, becoming a tourist destination, especially from the early twentieth century. Since then, many elect Torres Vedras as a destination, either in search of spa or the beach of Santa Cruz. The same village amounted to town in 1979, witnessing a massive urban growth. Between 1991 and 2011 the total resident population has increased about 18%, and now the municipality has 79.201 inhabitants (INE, 2013).

In a view of sustainable development, it is imperative that the growing mobility of citizens takes place in an orderly and sustainable way both from an economic, social and environmental perspective.

In this context, the municipality has developed the diagnosis of the main weaknesses of the current transport system, in which were highlighted the most representative mobility patterns.  Considering these, and within the strategic vision for the city, measures were defined (some traditional and others of nature more innovative) aimed at improving mobility throughout the city of Torres Vedras. The soft modes have been one of the strategic guidelines set by the county, who already provides a system of public bike rental – “Agostinhas”. The selection of the name “Agostinhas” is a tribute to renowned cyclist Joaquim Agostinho that is from Torres Vedras. The “Agostinhas” are distributed in 11 public bike stations in the city of Torres Vedras, close to schools, shopping areas and public services, providing standard pedal and also electric bicycles.

The Municipality of Torres Vedras has also signed in December 2010, the Covenant of Mayors. The path already travelled by the municipality, in the context of sustainability in general, but in particular in energy sustainability, led to this commitment that aims to measure and reduce CO2 emissions. The municipality thus, reiterates its belief that local actions are crucial in solving the problem of global warming and assumes its intentions of having an active role in its resolution.

In addition, information and communication must be seen as a strategic part of the transport planning and the involvement of the population should be part of the democratic process of decision-making and implementation. This communication strategy should therefore always be developed at two levels: internal communication and external communication. Under the project, the municipality itself will test the use of electric bikes in three different daily activities, intending to bring greater sustainability to their actions, and set an example not only internally but also to the general population.