We spoke with Marc Figuls, managing partner at Factual Consulting and main responsible for the Valencia pilot, about the current mobility situation in the Spanish city, as well as upcoming plans for the PHOEBE pilot. In case you have missed our other written interviews, we suggest you to check the conversations about West Midlands and Athens. Valencia has made significant investments in its active mobility infrastructure as part of its Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP), which was launched a decade ago. Additional green spaces attracted active mobility users, especially thanks to further investment into the transformation of the old Turia riverbed into a park that spans across the city. Valencia even holds the distinction of being the first Spanish city to construct a bicycle lane back in 1985. PHOEBE aims to enhance the safety of these vulnerable road users through the development of transport modelling tools.
Marc, what are the trends in modal shift in Valencia, specifically related to cycling?
Valencia’s SUMP plays a crucial role in promoting modal shift. Thus, investments have been made to improve cycling infrastructure, including the expansion of bicycle lanes and the development of a comprehensive cycling network. A significant project that has contributed to this effort is the cycling ring that surrounds the old town, which started in March 2017. This initiative, along with an increase in bike parking facilities and the emergence of electric scooters, have led to a substantial growth in sustainable mobility over the past eight years.
The city’s cycling network has expanded from 131 kilometres in 2015 to the current 188 kilometres, an increase of 43%. The usage of these facilities has doubled during this period. The number of bike parking spots has also nearly doubled from 10,430 to 19,680. Thanks to the installation of traffic counters many years ago, we have a clear indication that a growing number of people are cycling. Just in the last five years, we saw an increase in 300% of cyclists along the cycling ring. Since its opening in 2018, over seven million trips were counted.
Why is cycling, along with active mobility infrastructure, such an integral part of Valencia’s DNA? The city of Valencia is committed to sustainable mobility, and these trends in modal shift reflect the city’s efforts to prioritise active transportation options. By promoting cycling and walking, Valencia aims to create a healthier, more environmentally friendly, and liveable city. The city benefits from a mild Mediterranean climate, which creates favourable conditions for outdoor activities throughout the year. The region’s relatively flat terrain and the short distances makes cycling easily accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels.
It’s great to see a significant enthusiasm for active mobility, but over 400 crashes involving cyclists are recorded every year in Valencia. What is PHOEBE’s strategy to reduce these numbers?
The research conducted by PHOEBE focuses on utilising predictive approaches to enhance the safety of cycle lane networks. By analysing and evaluating the data collected through FACTUAL’s LanePatrol technology together with the integration of historical crash data, PHOEBE aims to identify patterns, trends, and potential areas of improvement in the safety and quality of cycling infrastructure.
By understanding the behaviour of local residents, tourists, and different types of users, PHOEBE can pinpoint specific challenges and areas that require attention. This data-driven approach enables the project to target interventions and safety measures effectively. The comparison of historical accident data with the data collected by PHOEBE will help assess the impact of the pilot project on reducing crashes and improving safety for cyclists.Moreover, the use of the well-established CycleRAP methodology based on the insights gained from PHOEBE’s data analysis will ensure a more effective and context-specific approach to addressing safety issues.
Thanks to the feedback and engagement of stakeholders, PHOEBE can gather valuable insights, address concerns, and foster a collaborative effort to enhance cycling safety.Ultimately, the knowledge gained through PHOEBE’s research and the integration of its findings into the city’s broader cycling infrastructure plans can inform targeted measures, such as better signage, improved road design, and increased awareness campaigns.
Learn more about the plans for micromobility and the first project results of PHOEBE in Valencia in our next part of the interview, which will be published next week.