1.51 - BooST – Boosting Starter Cycling Cities

Project Description


In the last years, there has been a growing importance of cycling in the political arena. Pushed by the agenda for sustainable mobility and healthier behaviours, cycling has slowly but steadily become a priority. At the same time research in cycling has also increase significantly building know-how on bringing about modal shift. Research has so far focussed on ‘champion cities’ (holding cycling shares higher than 20%) and as such on most successful examples. On the opposite scale, ‘starter cities’ seem to be in a particularly disadvantaged situation, having no cycling tradition nor technical know-how, with little research specifically focussed on the problems and solutions for these cities.
This project seeks to contribute to bridge this gap. By focussing on starter cities, the project aims to provide specific technical know-how allowing them to reach the next level of bicycle use and breaking with the initial resistance. With this in mind, the project will develop a Starter City Roadmap aimed at offering technical guidance in motivating cycling. The roadmap will provide a toolkit comprising:

  • an assessment framework of the Gross Potential for Cycling (GPC), 
  • an assessment framework of the Economic Value for Cycling (EVC), and
  • a selection framework for mobility management measures best suited for starter cities.

The GPC will identify and assess the size of target groups by their willingness to shift to cycling, and of target areas by their geographical and built environment conditions. It thus focusses on the gross potential instead of user satisfaction and infrastructure assessment regularly used for ‘champion cities’. The EVC will built on existing assessment frameworks developed for champion cities and innovate by considering specificities of starter cities, such as, the potential losses on public transport patronage and revenue in early stages, or in fuel tax revenues, which associated to the high infrastructure investments, have a significant impact. Finally, the Selection framework will provide support in the identification of best suited mobility management measures for cycling in starter city contexts and tailored to their GPC. The Starter City Roadmap and its toolkit will be made available in the form of a manual and of an interactive website and through several local workshops involving local authorities and other stakeholders. Together with a ranking of national starter cities (regarding its gross potential) the project will empower local policy with technical know-how and arguments against the general sceptical attitudes towards cycling. The project brings together several experts and builds on prior research on Mobility Management at CITTA, the promotion of cycling at UA, with several ongoing projects and research activities in the field, and the broad expertise of the European Cyclists’ Federation.


Research Team


  • Cecília Silva (coordinator)
  • Ana Dias
  • Miguel Lopes
  • Joana Marques
  • Isabel Cunha
  • Tamara Bicalho
  • Catarina Cadima
  • João Teixeira


  • Universidade de Aveiro
  • European Cyclists’ Federation
  • Comissão de Coordenação e Desenvolvimento Regional do Norte CCDR-n
Financial Support
  • Project POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031479 - funded by FEDER funds through COMPETE2020 - Programa Operacional Competitividade e Internacionalização (POCI) and by national funds (PIDDAC) through FCT/MCTES.
Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2021

Dias A, Lopes M, Silva C (2021) More than Cycling Infrastructure: Supporting the Development of Policy Packages for Starter Cycling Cities2021. Transport Research Record, https://doi.org/10.1177/03611981211034732 - OPEN ACCESS

Lopes M, Dias A, Silva C (2021) The impact of urban features in cycling potential – A tale of Portuguese cities. Journal of Transport Georaphy 95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2021.103149

Silva C, Marques J, Lopes M, Dias A (2021) The Gross Potential for Cycling: planning for human scale urban mobility, in Mladenović M, Toivonen T, Willberg E, Geurs K (Eds.) Transport in Human Scale Cities. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, ISBN 978 1 80037 050 0 (cased), ISBN 978 1 80037 051 7 (eBook). Available at (open access): https://www.elgaronline.com/downloadpdf/edcoll/9781800370500/9781800370500.00024.xml

Silva C, Mota J (coord.) et al. (2021) "Roteiro para Cidades Cicláveis Principiantes". Available for download in Portuguese at: https://boost.up.pt/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/BOOST_Roteiro.pdf . Available for download in English at: https://boost.up.pt/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/BOOST_Roadmap.pdf.