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1.30 - Accessibility Measures in the Portuguese Urban Planning System

Project Description

Over the last decades, transport and land use interaction remains a concern whose interdependence is still difficult to be evident in practice. Although mobility growth is evident, the same has not been observed with the concept of urban accessibility in recent years. Today, there is a lack of quality of urban space and the need of people in using the car for getting easier access to more activities achieved in the shortest travel time. In fact, these changes have provided added regional accessibility versus the loss of local accessibility. Taking into account the paradigm shift from mobility-planning to accessibility-planning, the concerns are of different origin, meeting of actions to “predict and prevent” rather “predict and provide”.


The main objective of this PhD is to integrate local accessibility concerns in the current Portuguese urban planning system, under the Municipal Master Plan (Plano Diretor Municipal). Accessibility concept used as a “goal” remains difficult to operationalize in urban planning. Accessibility operationalization involves goals setting through the implementation of accessibility measures and useful performance indicators. The introduction of both accessibility elements in the daily practice of planning is considered to be used as an alternative to traditional transport planning problems for bringing the integration of accessibility in local plans.


The methodology adopted is called “Conceptual Accessibility Methodology (MAcC)” which is focused on the practice of accessibility planning used as complementary tool for urban and management planning applied to the city of Porto (Portugal). MAcC is divided into three phases: Phase 1 – Performance indicators; Phase 2 – Strategic Indicators and Phase 3 – Urbanistic Indicators. Phase 1 provides two types of approaches: qualitative (based on surveys) and quantitative (spatial representation of accessibility with support to Geographic Information System). The two approaches together seek to identify the basic accessibility needs of the population including the expected travel times that an activity should be achieved by different modes of transport, being identified as Destination Accessibility Indicators. Phase 2 corresponds to the classification of levels of accessibility (High, Sufficient and Low) in Porto and the reference values found for the population’s and housing’s densities, called Strategic Indicators. Phase 3 assesses the impact of accessibility through the introduction of accessibility concerns into PDM, in light with planning strategies and goals adapted to the city based on the change of the main urbanistic indicators within different land uses categories. Accessibility impacts arise from the comparison between both scenarios of PDM (without accessibility concerns versus accessibility concerns) based on the increase (or decrease) of accessibility in terms of potential demand (population).

Research Team

Ana Amante
Cecília Silva (co-supervisor)
Paulo Pinho (supervisor)

Financial Support

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)

Stage of Progress

To be finished January 2017
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