Emergency Bike Lanes

Sustainable mobility capacity building and infrastructure development is possible even in the most extraordinary of circumstances, like a pandemic or the rising costs of fuels., Cuenca’s roadmap to e-mobility is a testimony of engagement and compromise to transition to more sustainable ways to get around the city in Ecuador.

© Municipality of Cuenca

Project Description

The city of Cuenca set their sights on becoming the leader on sustainable mobility in Ecuador. Their focus is on solutions from deploying bike lanes, implementing a cycling-hire sharing scheme, recreational activities to promote active mobility, and transitioning to an intermodally public transport system. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting business as usual, a need for resilient mobility solutions rose. These solutions should be implemented quickly and straightforwardly.  

As Cuenca understood that people needed to keep on using public transport while ensuring their health and safety of both bike and pedestrian commuters, the city planned to expand its bicycle infrastructure.  

To do it so, the city took different but complementary efforts: 

  • To rethink the current available space, the partners worked together with Copenhagenzie, a consultancy firm that specializes establishing road maps for cities to increase the number of bicycle commuters. Together, the approach followed by Copenhagenize pop up lanes were designed, and 4 interventions were suggested as a mean to boos cycling in Cuenca.  
  • Despacio an urban auditing consultancy form joined the effort, by providing an assessment on how safe the current cycling infrastructure was and way to improve the sense of safety to boost bike commuting. 

The TUMI Challenge “Emergency bike lanes, safely designed in Cuenca” was carried out together with the Municipality of Cuenca on behalf of the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 



  • Project launch
  • Mapping out critical intersections to intervene and improve biking experience (4 intersections)
  • Peer review through Copenhagenize Design Co.


  • Infrastructure safety auditing with Despacio a research center for urban and transport studies
  • Based on Design and Audit, the biking infrastructure was developed (in 2 pilot intersections)

At last, the guidelines to implement bicycle interventions were published.

Project's Objective

The main objective of the project was to improve the public space for sustainable mobility, with a safer redesign of “pop up” bike lanes for bike commuters. The actions focused on improving the cycling experience by designing cycle lanes to ensure safe walking and cycling in the city. 

Key Solutions

© Municipality of Cuenca

The city of Cuenca by its Municipality has been working on promoting the use of the bicycle by expanding its bikeway infrastructure reaching a 50 km network adding up to 20 km more to the already existing cycling lanes. Along with the infrastructure, the city has undertaken other activities with the aim of motivating citizens to make use of the bicycle instead of the private car:

  • Cycling hire scheme
  • Bicycle parking
  • Active Mobility Ordinance
  • Recreational biking activities
  • Educational programs
  • Intermodality, Tram system

Although there has been an increase and improve of cycling conditions in the city, there is a need to improve bikeways designs to improve safety for cyclist and pedestrians and to establish permanent bike lines from the successful experience of setting up emerging bikeways. This is a key factor that motivates new users to choose the bicycle to move around the city for their daily activities.

Main Outcomes

  • Safer intersections for biking and waking to incentive the use of sustainable modes of transport  
  • Reappropriation of public space by commuter through sustainable mobility. 
  • Guidelines to improve cycling experience using existing infrastructure and continue the city’s transition support to sustainable mobility services. 
  • A committed team with the capacities of keep improving the bike and walking infrastructure  

Challenges and Learnings

© Municipality of Cuenca


  • A project of this nature does not need to start from zero: building up from current infrastructure allowed a better deployment of actions in the midst of hard and uncertain times. Working a mobility transformation on already placed infrastructure allowed user to experience change faster and be more efficient with limited resources. 
  • The project offers an opportunity to gather information on site to be used later in policy making and transport planning: routes, user experience, user preferences by gender, occupation, mobility preferences, perceived risks, etc. 



  • Political and social acceptance on car centric cities for sustainable mobility infrastructure improvement could limit decision makers, authorities and planners on the ambition of re design and re distribute the public space on to the benefit of cyclist and pedestrians. 
  • Good designs rely on high quality and reliable data, lack of data is a common denominator in LATAM cities that hinder the intentions on implementing active mobility as a decision-making process from reliable information  

Potentials for Scaling Up

Many middle sized-cities and municipalities are interested in improving sustainable mobility conditions for its citizenships. Therefore Cuenca could be asuccessful example.

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More Information

Video | TUMI Challenge Cuenca, Ecuador

The Team

Adrian Ortega

E-Mobility Advisor

Adrian is an automotive mechanic engineer, specialized in transport Planning and Environment at University of Leeds joining the team in 2020. Previously he worked at the public sector in the National Transit Agency of Ecuador and as external consultant at world bank.

Viviane Weinmann

Transport Planner

Holding a degree in Aviation Management as well as Sustainable Transport Planning. She is experienced in road and pedestrian microsimulation modelling, feasibility studies and transport master planning. Before joining TUMI she also designed public transport and active mobility infrastructure, primarily in Singapore and the wider Southeast Asian Region.

Focus Areas: WMW