Pedro Homem de Gouveia, Coordinator of the Lisbon Pedestrian Accessibility Plan Team

How do on-demand pedestrian crossings make Lisbon safer?




Starting the first safety project right in front of the city’s traffic department
Lisbon faces different challenges as a historic city with narrow roads, a hilly topography and too little focus on non-motorised traffic. This is why after joining the FLOW project and establishing the Pedestrian Accessibility Plan, I rolled out the first project right in front of the city’s traffic department and traffic management centre. We set an example, how seriously we takes safety and accessibility for pedestrians.
On-demand crossing lights and more space for pedestrian refuge islands
Especially during the second half of the 20th century, as car use increased, Lisbon dedicated a significant portion of its narrow streets to car traffic and parking. Consequently, very little space was left for pedestrians. Together with my colleagues, I’m working to change that. Using microsimulation to display all different road users in one model, we were able to determine precisely, which scenarios worked best and could come up with a plan to implement the necessary changes. In our first project, we rebuilt the intersection of the streets Rua Alexandre Herculano and Rua Casillo, that’s where Lisbon’s traffic department is located.

“As the Coordinator of the Pedestrian Accessibility Plan Team, I work at the traffic department of Lisbon in Portugal. Solving mobility issues in a city with over two million citizens to make our capital safer and more accessible every day, that’s my goal. Because smart cities are inclusive cities.”

Putting pedestrians first
Based on the insights gained from the 3D animations in PTV Vissim, pedestrians can now safely cross the road at an on-demand traffic light that has an extended green interval to give citizens enough crossing time. At the same time, the traffic flow of cars and other motorised vehicles is only brought to a stop, when pedestrians indicate their need to cross the road. The pedestrian lights are also equipped with a sound device and special tactile paving to allow visually impaired people a safe crossing.
But for pedestrians to cross the road safely, they need enough space on the walkway to wait for the signal change. Taking this into consideration, the intersection was also broadened. With only limited space for pedestrians in the past, now there is room for several people, especially for families with strollers and elderly people with mobility aids. To make the intersection even more accessible, we flattened out the sidewalks eliminating obstacles like curbs that would make it difficult for mobility-impaired people who use, for example, a wheelchair.
From simulation to solution
The vision of a more pedestrian-friendly city is work in progress and so far Lisbon has not only redesign the pedestrian crossing in front of the traffic management centre. Around 30 different  interventions for the benefits of pedestrians have been completed with many more projects to come.
More about Pedro:
Pedro Homem de Gouveia has been working as Coordinator of the Pedestrian Accessibility Plan in Lisbon since 2010. He studied architecture and previously worked as a consultant. He strongly believes that professionals who plan, design and manage the built environment have the power and the duty to help it become friendly, fair, sustainable and safe for all users. He is also the chair of the EUROCITIES Working Group for Safe and Active Travel and a country representative of the Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments.
Do you want to realise a pedestrian safety and accessibility project in your city? Join the conversation and connect with Pedro on LinkedIn.
Get to know the PTV Expert:
Nora Szabo, Sales Manager at PTV Group
“Congestion is a multimodal problem that needs multimodal solutions. Lisbon is a great example that works towards putting walking and cycling on an equal footing with motorised transport modes.”
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