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CIVITAS PORTIS (Port-Cities: Integrating Sustainability)

Project Overview

Port cities can be seen as multi-dimensional laboratories where challenges connected to urban mobility are more complex due to the dual system of gravity centre: the city, the port, and not to mention their shared hinterland. These peculiarities are at once a challenge and an opportunity, as they provide scope for planning, researching and implementing integrated mobility solutions in distinctively complex urban contexts.

CIVITAS PORTIS designs, demonstrates and evaluates integrated sets of sustainable mobility measures in 5 major port cities located on the North Sea (Aberdeen and Antwerp), the Mediterranean Sea (Trieste), the Black Sea (Constanta), and the Baltic Sea (Klaipeda). The project also involves a major international follower port city on the East Coast China Sea (Ningbo).

Thanks to the CIVITAS initiative, the partner cities expect to prove that more efficient and sustainable mobility is conducive to the establishment of vital and multi-modal hubs for urban, regional, national and international movements of passengers and goods. To do this, they establish integrated living laboratories clustering local measures according to four major aspects of sustainable urban mobility:

  1. Governance: to increase port-city collaborative planning and participation, leading to enhanced forms of SUMPS.
  2. People: to foster less car-dependant mobility styles, leading to modal shift in favour of collective and more active transport.
  3. Transport system: to strengthen the efficiency of road traffic management to/from the port and through the city, and foster the use of clean vehicles.
  4. Goods: to enhance logistics and freight transport, improving the efficiency and coordination of city, port and regional freight movements.

Working with port cities, CIVITAS PORTIS will generate a strong and two-fold replication potential; a) specifically to other port cities, and b) more generally to cities presenting major transport nodes and attractors for the benefit of the whole CIVITAS initiative.

The aim is to improve the dialogue and cooperation between city and port authorities in order to incorporate port and regional dimensions in sustainable urban mobility plans

Our Approach

Vectos is leading the work package that generates sustainable mobility innovation for growth in the CIVITAS PORTIS cities. This ensures that the best practice arising from the demonstrations can be prepared for full implementation, taking the characteristics of each city into account. The final task will be to provide the necessary building blocks for onward exploitation – these will be in the form of guidelines for other European cities.


Many of the PORTIS measures are currently being implemented, across all of the port cities. For example:

  • Inauguration of Trieste’s bike sharing service: On February 3, 'BITS' was inaugurated, the new public bike sharing system of the Municipality of Trieste, with 148 traditional bicycles and pedal-assisted bicycles to promote sustainable mobility. Ten stations have currently been activated, all located in strategic points for city mobility, where it is possible to borrow and return 130 bicycles owned by the Municipality (of which 94 traditional and 36 electric with pedal assistance), and a further 18 (12 traditional and 6 electric) provided by the Port Authority, available every day of the year, 24 hours a day.
  • Constanta taking next steps towards walking and cycling friendly boulevards: The technical designs are now completed for the transformation of major boulevards in Constanta that will deliver public transport prioritisation and walking and cycling improvements. This work has been informed by PORTIS measure 2CTA1, which involved analysis of street hierarchies applying the Transport for London Healthy Streets guidance. Funding proposals have been positively evaluated and the municipality is entering the contracting phase.
  • Aberdeen Freight Routeing Report published and first effects of routing changes emerge: The principal aims are to assess the potential impacts the opening of a by-pass around Aberdeen has had on freight movements, and to work with freight operators to devise a new routeing strategy that would help reduce congestion and improve air quality in the city. Although the opening of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route enables some freight traffic to travel around rather than through the city, the location of the harbour in the city centre means large volumes of heavy vehicles will still need to use the city centre street network. Rather than advise only on priority and recommended routeing, the new freight routeing strategy has therefore sought to complement the revised Aberdeen Roads Hierarchy with a more comprehensive series of ‘priority’, ‘primary’, ‘secondary’ and ‘local’ routes. More consideration has also been given to routes that may not have physical restrictions, but are considered inappropriate for large vehicles, either due to the potential damage they could cause to infrastructure, or due to proximity to residential areas.

Impacts: Early indications are that heavy vehicles are diverting to principal routes rather than these less appropriate options.  In the two years of the project, the proportion of heavy goods vehicles using priority routes in and around the city has risen from 74% in 2017 to 80% in 2019. One minor B-class route has seen a reduction from over 1,100 HGVs per day to fewer than 600, a reduction of some 47%.