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The way to go - Bordeaux

Finished research

Lucas Delafosse and Stéphane Malek devised and tested measures designed to promote walking, in combination with public transport, in downtown Bordeaux.

Research participants


Contact : Anaïs Lefranc-Morin


I. Research

How to incite public transport users to walk short distances?

Walking remains the poor relation of transport. As it tends to be associated with leisurely strolling, it lacks credibility as compared to other modes. The car and tramway still prevail for many users in daily life for various reasons (fatigue, habit, ease, etc.). The Mobile Lives Forum wanted to explore the premise that walking, often overlooked as a mode of travel, could – when combined with public transport – provide relevant solutions to the challenges faced by transport operators and communities (in terms of traffic, pollution, underuse of public transport at the end of lines, etc.), as well as commuters’ desires for physical activity and urban experience.

The Marche à Suivre project, led by Lucas Delafosse and Stéphane Malek in greater Bordeaux, with support from Keolis and l'Agence d'urbanisme de Bordeaux métropole Aquitaine, aimed to promote walking for short distances. Launched in June 2013, the experiment ran from mid-September to November 2104 in downtown Bordeaux. It was designed to encourage those who use public transport for short trips to walk instead, and thus at times avoid a connection. The goal was to improve comfort for other users, especially during peak hours.

Like detectives, the researchers studied the Mériadeck-Hôtel de ville district to understand its characteristics (behavioral and spatial survey) and test actions that might make people want to travel by foot.

The section of tramway between Hôtel de Ville, Mériadeck and Gambetta station served as an experimental stage to offer users going to Mériadeck a less than ten minute walk as a viable alternative to a two-stop tram ride. The target population was significant: 3700 passengers a day take the Line A tramway between these two stations alone, in other words 28% of all passengers on the train. The 700-meter journey takes 8-9 minutes on foot – well below the accepted maximum walking time of 20 min. for Bordeaux residents, and also as fast as by tramway (factoring in a 4+ minute wait).

The assumption was that it was possible to challenge individuals’ habits through a simple and original experiment. The two researchers see walking not only as an efficient mode of transport, but also as a bodily experience in a sensitive relationship with the environment (in this case, the city). Acting on how we perceive an area and its potential in terms of travel is the basis of an approach that aims to encourage a change in practices designed to favor walking. The team chose focused on developing well-tailored passenger information and spatial landmarks to help walkers in identifying their surroundings and knowing where they are at all times.

L’expérimentation Marche à suivre s'est également déployée à Eysines selon d'autres modalités : vous pouvez découvrir ici ce projet.

II. Results

A) Discover the experiment in Bordeaux with Karl!

A short animated film presents Marche à suivre with Karl, who commutes to work like every morning.

B) What was the outcome of the experiment?

In Bordeaux, the light information measures about walking times and possible routes posted on the tramways was successful. One out of five users tested the proposed plan and, in 90% of cases, wanted to continue! On the proposed routes (roughly 700 meters), walking proved to be both pleasant (for well-being, physical activity, immersion in urban life, etc.) and efficient, given that one must wait for a tramway. On the trains themselves, the measures resulted in a drop of nearly half of the overcrowding at peak hours.

C) From process to results: project summary

A project logbook retraces the entire process - from the initial line of questioning (p.5) to the results (p. 22) - and includes a review of the literature and walking-related initiatives (p. 7), the field investigation phase (p.12) and the design of the experiment (p. 16). Possible courses of action are described in the conclusion (p. 26).

Cahier d'expérimentation n°1 - Marche à suivre Bordeaux - Forum Vies Mobiles

III. Documents and reports

Going further: about the project

Phase 1: a review of the literature and initiatives

The first research phase consisted of an overview on walking: what do we learn from the scientific literature? What initiatives can we identify to promote walking? What ideas about walking and/or making walking part of one’s life do they promote? How can this fuel the Marche à suivre experimental design? What is the role of walking in the travel habits of greater Bordeaux residents?

To find out, you can download :

  • Phase 1 summary report
    le rapport de synthèse de fin de phase 1 - Les pieds dans le pas - Eysines - Marche à suivre - Forum Vies Mobiles

  • le benchmark des initiatives de promotion de la marche
    Revue d'initiatives -Marche à suivre - Forum Vies Mobiles

Phase 2: field survey

The field survey was designed to closely consider the specificities of the experimental fields. The goal was to analyze the project territory based on an urban and landscape diagnostic, as well as a behavioral diagnostic based on in-depth interviews (to gauge modal choices), travel behaviors and the spatial imaginaries of tramway users.

You can download:

  • the findings of the behavioral diagnostic
    Télécharger Rapport d'enquête comportementale Bordeaux - Marche à suivre - Forum Vies Mobiles

  • the compiled spatial and landscape impressions
    Télécharger Impressions spatiales et paysagères Bordeaux - Marche à suivre - Forum Vies Mobiles

Phase 3: setting up the experiment

To understand the field experiment, watch the “Pendant l’expérimentation à Bordeaux” report and browse through the panels and flyers in digital format.

  • Vidéo : Bordeaux pendant l'expérimentation

  • Dossier zip avec tous les panneaux, flyers
    Télécharger Bordeaux - Panneaux et flyers - Marche à suivre - Forum Vies Mobiles

Phase 4: Evaluation

The experiment led to an evaluation from which lessons for research and action could be drawn. The qualitative and quantitative field survey led to an analysis of the results of the measures and proposals for action.

  • Evaluation report
    Télécharger Evaluation de l'expérimentation - Rapport Phase4 - Marche à suivre Bordeaux - Forum Vies Mobiles

  • Task sheets
    Télécharger Fiches Actions - Rapport Phase4 - Marche à suivre Bordeaux - Forum Vies Mobiles

IV. The actors

A) Why did they get involved in Marche à suivre? The actors speak

Elisabeth Touton , assistant to the mayor of Bordeaux and responsible for operational urban development, habitat and transport: “Walking is a complementary solution to motorized modes.”

Bernard Emsellem , President of the Mobile Lives Forum: “We need to make walking a means of transport .”

Eric Chareyron , marketing director of Keolis, and Paul Chaperon , Marketing Director of Keolis Bordeaux: “Desaturating tramway lines in the city center is a key issue.”

Jean-Marc Offner , CEO of A’urba, and Jean-Christophe Chadanson , urban planner for A’urba: “We must move toward a logic of inviting individuals to change for themselves.”

Lucas Delafosse , landscaper, and Stéphane Malek , planner-landscaper: “Marche à Suivre is an original, light and temporary development project.”

B) Institutional partners

a’urba (agence d’urbanisme Bordeaux métropole Aquitaine): This public agency is the strategic tool for regional development in the city of Bordeaux. It is responsible for urban planning and helps local governments to carry out their urban development projects. It is active at all scales, from neighborhoods to metropolitan systems.

A public corporation for gray matter, the agency assists local authorities in developing and implementing projects and public policies by shedding light on, providing perspective regarding and taking measure of the socio-economic and spatial dynamics that are changing frameworks and lifestyles. For the sake of coherence of collective action, it facilitates the dialogue between public and private city actors.

L’a-urba leads observatories, disseminates urban culture, participates in planning procedures, proposes strategic initiatives and works to develop prospective thinking.

To find out more, go to:

Keolis : This subsidiary of the SNCF group provides urban and interurban transport solutions (tramways, buses, subways, shuttles, etc.) in France and worldwide.

Keolis is the only actor to be present throughout the entire mobility chain and to combine soft and heavy modes (subways, buses, tramways, bikes, car sharing and water shuttles) with parking facilities (park and ride facilities and parking lots).

Adapting the transport supply, streamlining urban transport, promoting citizen transport and creating true complementarity between different modes of transport are all imperatives that guide Keolis Bordeaux in its management of metropolitan Bordeaux’s public transport network (Tbc) for the urban community of Bordeaux. With 125 million trips in 2013, the Tbc network promotes the region’s attractiveness while minimizing the energy and environmental impacts of travel by users. The Tbc network increases the possibility of connections between different modes of transport, allowing individuals to build personalized “mobility solutions.”

To find out more, go to:

V. News

Project blog

A blog allows you to follow the team’s progress in the field.

Press Review

In Bordeaux, France, the Mobile Lives Forum Urges Tramway Users to Walk


For the Mobile Lives Forum, mobility is understood as the process of how individuals travel across distances in order to deploy through time and space the activities that make up their lifestyles. These travel practices are embedded in socio-technical systems, produced by transport and communication industries and techniques, and by normative discourses on these practices, with considerable social, environmental and spatial impacts.

En savoir plus x

Car sharing

Car sharing is the pooling of one or several vehicles for different trips at different times. Three types of car sharing exist: commercial car sharing, peer-to-peer car sharing and “informal” sharing between individuals.

En savoir plus x

Associated Thematics :

To cite this publication :

Lucas Delafosse et Stéphane Malek (18 June 2015), « The way to go - Bordeaux », Préparer la transition mobilitaire. Consulté le 22 May 2024, URL:

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