1.52 - MOBI-AGE - Promoting urban mobility in ageing populations

Project Description

This exploratory project aims to contribute to the promotion of sustainable mobility for the aged population. This population, with some restrictions in terms of personal mobility, do not always have easy access to urban spaces and to the components of the transport system. If up to now the quantitative of this population could be considered balanced with that of the younger population, it is now expanding throughout Europe, with the number of people over 65 years old exceeding the number of people under 18 in many countries. The demographic pyramid in Europe shows the distribution of the 503 million men and women in the European Union (based on the EU27 countries in 2012) as a "constrictive pyramid", which is typical of societies with low fertility and mortality rates and with relatively older populations. The population aged 15-64 years is 335 million (66%), while about one fifth of the total population is over 65 years of age (100 million 20%). There are only 78 million children aged 0-14 years old (15%). Urban centers it concentrates a good part of the population aged in cities, that inhabit older buildings as well. By definition and in most of these cities, these areas are also areas where historical monuments and other factors of tourist attraction are located. Senior tourism is also a consequence of the general ageing of the population and has been increasing. This panorama makes the urban centers, especially the historical ones, as places where a greater number of elderly people are concentrated in comparison to other zones of the city, residents and visitors. It has been observed that neither the urban public space nor the transport system are adequate, with optimal conditions, to the mobility needs of these groups.
In this way, this exploratory project focuses first and foremost on the bibliographical review on the adequacy of the urban space at the level of urban design and infrastructures as regards the routes and on the pedestrian and bicycle accesses, both to the buildings and access points of the transport system. On the other hand, the literature on the mobility and accessibility of the elderly in the transport system will also be reviewed. Using some information from this review, two case studies, one in Coimbra and another in Porto (selected areas of urban rehabilitation zones historical centers of the two cities) will be studied in relation to the characteristics of their resident elderly population, the areas of residence and characteristics of the public space including touristic attractions, in order to identify needs and failures. This process will go beyond desk work, and will also have the objective of creating social innovation, by holding participatory and dynamic collaboration sessions with this population, assessing more precisely what their needs and aspirations are.
A methodology for the diagnosis and classification of historical central spaces, particularly those that are the target of urban rehabilitation operations, will be elaborated from the bibliographical review and the evaluation work of the case studies, as to their suitability in terms of mobility inside the zones considered and between those zones and other zones of the city, for the older population, whether resident or visitor. This methodology should inform the future development of interactive information platforms, aimed at endusers of the space and not only for visitors, but also for residents, which will allow them to find solutions to their travel needs easily.

Research Team

CITTA - University of Coimbra

  • Ana Maria Bastos Silva
  • Anabela Ribeiro (coordinator)
  • Inês Frade 
  • Inês Cunha

CITTA - University of Porto

  • Fernando Brandão Alves
  • João Pedro Martins
  • Sara Santos Cruz

Other Partners

https://agelab.mit.edu/ - Joseph F. Coughlin and Lisa D'Ambrosio

Project Website


Financial Support
  • Programa FCT-MIT Portugal - MITEXPL/STS/0065/2017

Stage of Progress
  • Concluded in 2019