Ship Ahoy!

In earlier days, waterways were an important transportation artery. As motorized transportation and railways did not exist yet, goods and persons were transported easily over the water. For inner-city distribution large canal networks were build in many European cities. Some of these cities like Amsterdam, Utrecht and Venice preserved these waterways and canal systems which nowadays are still able to serve as transportation infrastructure.

In Utrecht, The Netherlands, small transportation boats deliver small bars and restaurants next to the canals. This is over the water much easier as by truck, because the small streets above are crowded with pedestrians and cyclists.

Utrecht is not the only city in the world to use its canals in modern times, Amsterdam and Venice are well known for their canal tours and gondolas. Both also provide ferry services for fast public transport connections over the water. In Amsterdam these ferries can be used by cyclists to directly cross the water barriers between the outskirts and city center and provide a range extender for cycling.

As the capacity of waterborne transportation is mainly limited by the peer capacity and life-cycle costs are moderate compared to other transport modes, water is still interesting as transportation infrastructure and should be considered if we rethink future mobility.

The case for a flexible workplace?

Telephones, internet, cameras, flexible offices and much more already exists for a while, offering various possibilities to communicate and cooperate. Still many companies demand their employees to travel every day to a certain place regardless of the social and internal costs this carries with them. Work related transportation uses much of our resources, causes a majority of the pollution and forces many humans to be in a place they rather would not like to be, such as a traffic jam or an overcrowded public transport vehicle. What is changing and what might the future look like?

There are obviously jobs which only can be performed in one place which mostly are performed by people who live relatively near to their working place. Another growing group of people perform tasks that can be done virtually everywhere and still travel every day from their homes to a certain place, just because they have to.

A new generation of leaders although sees the advantage of a good work-life balance and allow their employees to work one or two days from home, and that is just the start. The week consists of more than one or two days and it would be hardly possible to work all of them at home. What might change for the other days? The workplace is also known as a social environment, some place to go outside and interact with other interesting people. Some tasks require cooperation between employees and the best ideas are born in the coffee corner.

The future coffee corner?

One example I found in Switzerland. The Swiss railway company “SBB” offers in their “Business Centers” a variety of flexible office solutions at certain main stations which are centrally located in their network. For a reasonable fee it is possible to rent an individual workplace, co-working office or meeting room. Not only “SBB” but other companies all over the world also offer these services.

Start-ups already are known for their high acceptance of these solutions as they save money and are much more flexible than a conventional office building. Larger companies already transform their offices into flexible working spaces where many employees do not have a fixed office anymore but just work there where it fits best for that moment.

But what are the next steps and when will they happen? Many questions are still unasked and unanswered. Nobody knows the exact answer, but many feel some things will change. The most important question unasked is, what would happen if this indeed happens and we travel less and work more in alternative places. How much money would then be spilled on nowadays-planned expensive new infrastructure and office projects which might be obsolete? Therefore, we should rethink future mobility!

Less space, more place

As over the last decades the demand for transportation rose, the same happened with the demand for parking places. Especially in the night and during weekends the supply of parking places does not meet the demand with dangerous situations with trucks parking on the highway shoulder as a result. New intelligent and communication driven systems contribute in solving this problem.

Truck drivers face many regulations regarding driving times and rest. Moreover, a truck cannot be parked in all places, which makes finding a suitable parking space more of an expedition rather than a normality. With too little spaces available, parking in dangerous areas is in many cases the only option left. To prevent more and more drivers finding themselves in these situations, new computer and data driven services are developed, tested and implemented.

The classical truck-parking place consists of three elements: a road to the spot, the spot itself and a road from the spot. As of the large turning radius, these roads have to be dimensioned in a way that meets these dimensions. It is not possible to park trucks behind each other as backing up with the truck is a dangerous manoeuvre and drivers stay different periods. The result is a large parking area with lots of inefficient road surface only used at arrival and departure.

kompaktparkenhochOne of the compact truck parking test sites at rest area Jura-West A3, Germany

On the German A3 rest area Jura-West, a new system is tested where trucks park behind each other in designated rows according to their projected departure times. Variable message signs above each row indicate the projected departure time and at the parking area entrance a summary is given.

Through these changes, it is possible to park more trucks in the same parking area without locking in trucks. In the future, data for different parking places can be combined, which enables making better estimations for supply and demand and even implement a pricing strategy to optimize the parking demand for all the rest areas.

The compact truck parking system explained

Digital revolution in transportation?

After Tesla “rolls out several updates” for its Model S, it’s a clear sign the automotive industry and transportation is digitalizing and will continue to do so in the future. What is happening, what happened in the past and what can we expect for the future?

After a vast expansion of the railways throughout several continents a proper communication system enabling a safe operation was necessary. The telegraph was probably one of the first digital revolutions in transportation.

After the rise of the railways caused by the industrial revolution, one century later the automobile was on the rise. The increase of automobiles demanded new infrastructures and caused many problems. In order to find out what problems are present, traffic counts measure vehicles and other traffic related data. In the beginning this was done manually, but as the personnel costs rose, new digital systems were developed.

The various data collected in traffic counts and calculations were too complex to be analyzed without computers. Great algorithms were developed to calculate mobility demand, traffic demand, modal split and network assignment. Even nowadays engineers work on optimization of these algorithms to improve simulation and forecast quality.

In 2016 telematics are used for various purposes from traffic managment and signal control to road toll systems.  Also the so known, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and cooperative systems, where vehicles and infrastructure communicate with each other are starting to become reality. Even cyclists nowadays are connected through several apps even while they are on their bike .

The Public Transport sector also had its developments. More and more ticketing options and payment methods supported by customer cards and mobile phone apps are available to the public. In The Netherlands one chipcard can be used to pay for all the public transport throughout the whole country.

At the 2016 Costumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas the big eyecatchers were large tech companies presenting their last autonomous automotive developments instead of their new flagship phones.

What will be the future of traveling? Noone knows but at least we know its a digital one.

Living on the edge – but why is our traffic so dangerous?

Each day over 70 persons die and over 3665 injuries occur on the European roads. This means our traffic is more dangerous than any existing extreme sport. Regardless of this, we put ourselves, our children and loved ones into these dangers without any thoughts. Which factors influence accidents and what are the perspectives for the future?

human – vehicle – infrastructure

Humans, vehicles and infrastrucutre are three important factors involved with traffic accidents They determine whether an accident happens and which impact it has. Humans are always involved. Education, experience, ability to drive, proper assessment and the right actions are necessary. Nonetheless, humans are not perfect. They are not always able to make a proper assessment of the situation and take the right decisions. Therefore, over 90% of traffic accidents occur due to human failure.

To support traffic participants in their tasks new assisting systems such as navigation systems, cruise control and rain sensors were and still are developed. Through these systems, the vehicles become more intelligent and take away tasks so the driver can concentrate more on the other traffic participants. These already developed technologies can be supportive as well as protective, like deformation zones, seat belts and air bags. Supportive systems can decrease the chances of traffic accidents and protective systems can limit the impacts significantly.

The infrastructure has a and underestimated big influence  influence on the number of accidents and impact as well. Constructional quality, clearness, visibility and “forgiveness” are a few elements that determine the safety of the road. If road marks are invisible, the asphalt is too slippery or water does not drain properly, accidents are likely to happen. Unclear situations, no place for vulnerable traffic participants and falsely placed road signs do not contribute to an improved safety either. The forgiveness of the road, in other words the ability of the road to forgive failures, should prevent that failures lead to accidents and impacts are minimized.

Future perspectives

In the last years, traffic volumes system complexity increased. This development will continue in the next years. Traffic and mobility is changing and will continue to change. More people use alternatives like public transport, walking, biking, or completely new vehicles such as Segways and E-Bikes. The first tests with autonomous driving on public roads are history and the present society and infrastructure is not prepared for the future of mobility.

Status Quo is that existing ‚solutions‘ from the past are still implemented without the future in mind. We should redefine our mobility so it will be safe, up-to-date and ready for the future – rethink future mobility!

Hello world!

As humans we have needs, wishes and goals, which we can’t all fulfill in the same place. Therefore a need for mobility between those places exist. I am a person who is committed to our daily routines, mobility patterns and necessary infrastructures. Like many others I feel there is still room for improvement and a whole world of new solutions and services to explore. My objective is to research, improve and design transportation systems and places that work and I hope to inspire you to ‘rethink future mobility’!