70 percent funded by the EU, the Agostinhas bike share scheme in Torres Vedras, Portugal, is named after local hero Joaquim Agostinho

World’s newest bike share scheme is named after Tour de France rider

A bike share scheme opens in June in the Portuguese town of Torres Vedras. It is named after local hero Joaquim Agostinho, a leading professional rider in the 1970s and 1980s. The Agostinhas bike share scheme aims to boost bicycle riding in Torres Vedras, which is currently at a modal share of less than one percent.

Torres Vedras, 35 kms from Lisbon, has a population of 20,000, and, like the rest of Portugal, suffers from very high car use. The new bike share scheme will have a fleet of 110 bikes, made by Portugal’s main bike producer, Orbita. Four-hour use of one of the bikes is free for locals, following the payment of an annual fee of just ten euros. (Tourists will be able to join in the scheme, with a week’s membership costing 5 euros). There are eleven bike docking stations dotted around town. The bikes affix to the docking stations via headtube stubs. The project is 70 percent funded by the European Union.

One of the docking stations is at a proposed edge-of-town museum dedicated to Agostinho, another is at a town centre statue erected to the local hero.

Agostinho ranks highly in Portugal’s pantheon of sporting heroes, despite the country being devoted to football. In a vote by newspaper journalists, Agostinho was ranked as the fourth most important Portuguese Sportsman of the 20th Century, behind footballers Eusébio, Carlos Lopes, and Rosa Mota.

Agostinho died in 1984 after hitting a dog while leading the Tour of the Algarve. A professional since the late 1960s, he rode the Tour de France 13 times, winning the legendary mountain stage of Alpe d’Huez in 1979, and twice finished third on general classification.

Yesterday in Torres Vedras, BikeBiz rode on one of the new bike share scheme bikes and saw the shell of the building which will become the museum dedicated to Agostinho. This building, a former canteen for an adjacent, and now closed, steel works, will house artefacts and memorabilia donated by the Agostinho family.

The centrepiece of the new museum, which is expected to open next year, is Agostinho’s last bike, the bike he was riding when he hit the dog. (Agostinho remounted his bike after crashing and rode to the finish but died ten days later due to the head injuries suffered in the fall).

Standing in front of this bike, Carlos Miguel, Mayor of Torres Vedras, told delegates from the International Cycle History Conference, being held in Lisbon, that the former steelworks factory would have had 200 workers’ bikes parked outside in the 1960s, and maybe just a couple of cars.

"If it was still open today there would be 200 cars and two bicycles," said Mayor Miguel.

"The Agostinhas bike share scheme is one part of our plans to make Torres Vedras a more sustainable town."


More pics here. The main pic at top of story shows triathlete Elisa Canário and cycle historian David V Herlihy, wearing, appropriately, his "golden fleece."

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