Congestion, danger, noise and smell. Images that readily come to mind when you think about mobility. What can Rijkswaterstaat [the Public Works Department] do about this? Build more roads and encourage smarter use of the existing networks. Roads to the Future (RtF), the innovation programme of Rijkswaterstaat within the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management, is predominantly aimed at seeking smart solutions for mobility and infrastructure.
'To make visionary, practical and forward-looking, innovative contributions to high-quality (clean, smart, pleasant and safe) mobility for all citizens concerned' is the mission of Roads to the Future.
Linking long-term vision to short-term action is characteristic of RtF's working method. In forming an outlook for the long term, RtF takes its inspiration from ideas that now hold sway in society. This is done through dialogue with external partners, such as market parties, interest groups, experts and road users. Based on the results of this dialogue, promising ideas are selected for concrete pilot projects. Selected projects are then carried out with a throughout time of about one year. It is in this stage that cooperation with the market is sought.
Roads to the Future is cyclical. In each cycle, the team interpreted the element of long-term thinking in its own way. In all three cycles, short-term action was preceded by designating themes and pilots. The first RtF cycle started in 1996, and the third cycle in the spring of 2002.
The budget, mainly funded by the Ministry of Transport through Rijkswaterstaat, is about EUR 1.1 million in 2003.
For the third RtF cycle the following five themes were determined:
1) Tailored Info: ICT applications supply up-to-date, personal travel tips for getting from A to B efficiently. Pilots:
- Traffic Projections (develop and test an system that gives advance and on-trip traveller information)
- In-car information (set up a section of motorway in such a way as to pass on road information to passing motorists)
2) Enriched Travelling Time: If travelling can also become an experience, travelling time can be made valuable time. Pilots:
- Close contact (set up an in-car system that makes sure the road user can come into contact with the outer world in a safe way)
- Bonus driving (rewarding positive driving behaviour)
3) The Multifunctional Road: Roads to the Future believes that we can derive more social benefit from motorways if they are given new functions (social, economic and ecological). Pilots:
- Future service areas (look at the future of developing service areas)
- Remediating roads (RtF will use contaminated dredge spoil as building material for road construction, whereby the spoil will be remediated at the same time)
4) Intelligent Networks: to make the networks connect better through smarter management so that traffic flow becomes more controllable. Pilots:
- Missing Link (the idea is to select a test area with links missing in the relationship between the various road networks. Improvement options like bypasses, breaking through a blocked connection, or upgrading and downgrading road sections according to function can then be investigated)
- Citybox Transport (work with goods boxes that fit on large and small lorries by turning them half way. This is a new logistic concept for inner-city distribution and supply)
- Optimum corridor (create an information model that will be used to evaluate networks, through which weak points, missing connections and poor connections in timetables between and within networks can be detected)
5) Future Transport: is studying the contours of society in 2050, the development of goods and passenger transport flows and the means of transport for future society. No pilots.