Master students Transportation Sciences on study visit to Madrid Apr 28, 2017
Within the Master of Transportation Sciences, we seize every opportunity to get a closer look at good practices from home and abroad in the field of transportation and road safety policy. This year’s four-day study visit took the master students to Madrid, Spain.
On April 17, 2017, the master students of Transportation Sciences arrived in a sunny and scenic Madrid. “We selected Madrid as destination, because it is known as one of the most densely populated cities in Western Europe and the largest metropolitan area (6.5 million inhabitants) after London and Paris. As all these people would like to actively participate in society, Madrid deals with challenges related to mobility, the environment and social inclusion. The transportation system in Madrid offers realisations which are very interesting to visit for students in Transportation Sciences”, explains Dr Caroline Ariën, Coordinator Education. Examples of realisations: the tunnelling of 43 kilometres of motorways in the city centre, park ‘Madrid Rio’, sustainable policy approach since the elections in 2015 and the introduction of Bicimad, a bike sharing system using electric bikes. Shahram Chuhdary, master student: “No study about any city could tell you more until you have experienced it yourself.”
After checking in at the Hostel, the master students visited the Casa de Campo park by taking a cable car. At the park, students had a good overview of the city of Madrid so they could make a mental map of how they saw the city and its environment.
Day 2: A to B Challenge
On the second day of the study visit, an ‘A to B Challenge’ was organized. Dr Caroline Ariën: “We split the group in four subgroups. Each group had to ‘race’ from point A to point B using a different transport mode: metro, bus, regular taxi and Uber taxi. The group who took the regular taxi, arrived first at the destination, followed by the metro team and those who used the Uber taxi. The bus group arrived last, which came as no surprise. But what about travel cost, road safety, comfort and carbon emissions of the chosen transport modes? With this challenge, we sought to give our students the opportunity to explore transport modes and to better understand the link between our transportation behaviour and global warming.” The students also visited the Madrid Metro system and its control centre, Madrid Rio park with the M30 tunnelled ring road underneath it, as well as the traffic control centre of this ring road.
Day 3: Autonomous Baggage Train
In the morning, the students paid a visit to the city government, who presented their recent mobility and climate/emission plan. Later on, we visited the baggage handling system of the Madrid airport. Master student Anne-Carlijn Kommers describes this as following: “We went to the airport of Madrid and saw that the luggage is luckier than the tourists. While the tourists have to wait, go through security checks and walk to the gate, the luggage cab takes a rollercoaster ride.”
Day 4: Discovering Madrid by bike
In the morning of the fourth day, everyone picked up a rental bike in the heart of the city to cycle to our appointment at Madrid University’s school of engineering and the Transport Research Centre “TRANSyT”. Dr Caroline Ariën expertly guided us through the dense streets of Madrid. In the afternoon, a cycle tour of the city proved to be challenging as the streets of Madrid are quite hilly and car drivers are not accustomed to sharing their lane with two-wheeled road users. Nevertheless, we reached our destination unscathed but full of ideas for improving road safety for vulnerable road users.
In the evening, we had a closing dinner at nearby restaurant “El Imparcial”, where we enjoyed a nice meal, while evaluating the study visit. “Nice city, nice group and nice programme”, said Demelash Gebremichael Weldeyes. Hilde Deridder, master student Transportation Sciences: “Major cities all share similar challenges in mobility. We can all learn from each other: both the good and the bad.” Bram Decramer concluded: “When are we coming back?”