Cycling Visionaries Awards – Project Details

Academic research CO2 emissions

Academic research CO2 emissions

A practical and quantitative study approach, that demonstrates that it is practical, viable and efficient, to travel by train and small electric bicycle, instead of driving an average car. This exercise presents the consequent unmatched amounts of resources used per kilometer to gather data necessary for one particular PhD project.

The objective of this paper is to rethink the way practical research work is implemented in order to improve academic sustainability as a whole. We have analysed, side by side, two different mobility solutions and have gathered data that allows us to produce a comparative report regarding the resources usage in both options. These study theme emerged in the process of planing the fieldwork for a Phd that intends to contribute to “Sustainable Architecture and Eco-Tourism in the Alto Douro Region”, in the North of Portugal. We realized that there were lots of small trips (100km) between Alto Douro region and Porto – the work and living place of the researcher. This paper describes the process of understanding if it is true, that it is cheaper less resource intense, and socially more stimulating, to use the Public Transports available and ride an Electric-Bicycle (PT+EB), than to drive solo in an average Individual Car (IC).
Research must find methodologies that integrate the existing academic knowledge on sustainability paradigm based on the balance of social, environmental and economical dimensions. Thus, our interest is coherence, that is, we wish to demonstrate that, not only we are interested in proving that tourism buildings should be sustainable, but also actively being sustainable in the process of demonstrating it. In the contemporary context of resource scarcity and environmental crisis this proactive attitude is fundamental.
Sustainable mobility is crucial for the territory where architecture and methods of research in sustainable architecture are integrated. There is a wide consensus around the fact that public transports and light vehicles are the best strategy to achieve sustainable mobility. Both in urban context and between cities or suburban areas, the Multi-Modal and Light-Vehicle solutions are widely presented has more sustainable when compared to the use of the individual automobile. Even literature that argues the opposite, does so, based on the
assumption that vehicle occupancy is over 1.58. which in the case of the necessary journeys is not applicable because the researcher is travelling alone.

We fit our practical and quantitative study in a Bottom-up approach. The exercise here
proposed, synthesizes – theoretically and practically – the possibility of visiting hundred
buildings spread across an area of hundred per thirty-five kilometers, with the twisted Douro river dividing this area lengthwise. Mobility Solution Available first and immediate option is to drive all necessary distances using individual car. Second possibility is to use the Train and Coaches to distances over 40km and use a regular Bicycle or, an Electric Assisted Bicycle that could allow less fatigue and faster up-hill trajectories. We set for the following two solutions to realize the necessary trips from Porto city to the case-study buildings:
1.using the individual car (IC);
2.using Public Transports (Train and Bus) plus Electric Assisted Bicycle (PT+EAB).

When planning an affordable, light CO2 emitting and socially integrated journey, to visit
about hundred accommodations spread throughout a region such as the Alto Douro, the
advise is the multi-modal solution. It is clear for us, that the economic and environmental benefits are impossible to refute. Less clear are the social benefits, mainly for the potential hazards of riding a fragile bicycle in narrow roads with mostly uncivilized drives and over-speeding vehicles. On the other hand the Social strength lies on the deeper experience of
the landscape and the interaction with locals. The preferred solution probably will spend more in overnight, for the case-study visits ratio per day is less intense, and again this is positive for the region.

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António Feio
Porto, Portugal

Category: Science, Research and Development

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