Citizens of the municipality of Oeiras, the most car-dependent place in Portugal, have voted strongly in favour of the 5.8 km ‘Ciclovia na Marginal’ proposal to convert a second car lane into a coastal bicycle lane. Its not going to be easy as its a community plagued by a ‘dictatorship of cars’.
The lack of bicycle-friendly infrastructure means that for elderly people, children and touring cyclists, cycling along this coastline isn’t safe enough. In the initial phase, the proposal received an unexpected demonstration of public support. However, Portuguese cycling advocacy groups fear that public support will be ignored in the upcoming consultations.
Long-accused of ignoring active mobility infrastructure in favour of cars, the national road authority, Estradas de Portugal, is expected to argue against the proposal in the car-focused technical assessment round. Furthermore, the local municipality is showing no signs of supporting the initiative.
If Ciclovia na Marginal is dropped, it will deal a real blow not only to the trust of this community in their institutions, but also to the effort to promote improved cycling infrastructure, sustainable tourism and a healthier life style.
This car-focused mentality is not Europe’s future nor is it the wish of many Europeans. Unfortunately, the insistence of institutions to prioritise infrastructure for vehicles will set communities on an unavoidable course of car dependency.
Locally, the current Hexham Town Council is supportive of proposals to improve cycling in Hexham but this will have to be done incrementally.
The Centre for Green Energy
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