Roads of the future - for the first time under this slogan, and for the fifth time in general, the Warmia&Mazury Road Forum was held on 24-25 September. This is one of the oldest regional PKD conferences.
The venue of the conference was the Castle Hotel in Ryn. A special moment during the inaugural session was the presentation to prof. Leszek Rafalski, director of the Research Institute of Roads and Bridges, with the honorary distinction "Meritious Road Personality of Warmia and Mazury region". It was granted to him, at the request of the regional road authority in Olsztyn for many years of cooperation with various road administration units in the region and the local academic community. Professor Rafalski managed developing a strategy for the development of the road network in that voivodship. Thanking for the award, he said that it is a source of satisfaction for him, when visiting the province, he sees how its face gradually changing, thanks to the implementation of this document.
A lecture by prof. Rafalski traditionally opens each Warmian-Masurian Road Forum. This time the director of IBDiM acquainted the audience with the trends in road transport that could be observed during this year's Transport Research Arena. During the congress, which was held in Vienna in April, over 650 papers were delivered, mostly referring to the main subject, which was: the digital era in transport. For road managers, noted prof. Rafalski, the most important conclusions refer to the visible tendency to increase the weight of vehicles. EU directives will soon increase the permissible total weight of vehicles to 60 tonnes. European routes adaptations to increased loads are to be designated. The weighing systems of vehicles will become even more important in this situation.
Other aspects of vehicle changes that will be seen on roads in the near future, were highlighted by Prof. Piotr Wrzecioniarz from the Wrocław University of Technology. The word which is now on top of all is electromobility. Electric cars, or actually vehicles, because powered or supported by electricity can also be motorcycles, bicycles or rollers, will dominate big cities at first. The challenge will be to use electric drive for large-capacity truck transport. With a share of 5% in road traffic, they are responsible for 22% of emissions. In spite of all technological advances, this transport pollutes the air more than in 1990. The future will show whether predicting that diesel engines will be extinct in 12 years proves right.
Electric trucks do not have to be sheer fantasy, argued Dr. Michael Lueken of VDI / VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH, expert of the Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. A serious limitation, however, is the battery capacity and the small range of cars. In Germany, three pilot road sections with a total length of 10 km were built, with a catenary spread over them, supplying the trucks in a manner known from trolleybuses. It is a joint German-Swedish project. Dr Lueken delivered his speech from his office in Berlin via an internet messenger. It was the very first on-line presentation in the history of the PKD conferences.
Perhaps the most important thing in the future will be to ensure the safety of road users. 1.5 million people die every year in the world as victims of road accidents, the average demographic indicator for the number of deaths per million inhabitants is 210. In the European Union, it is much better because the rate is 55 victims per million inhabitants. The statistics are exacerbated by Poland, which has this indicator at level 74 - said prof. Kazimierz Jamroz from the Gdańsk University of Technology. The risk of being a fatal victim in Poland is twice as high as the average for EU countries, and even three times higher than in countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands or Sweden.
Educational picnic in Olsztyn
On the eve of the conference on the Old Town Market Square of Olsztyn, several hundred children built a model of the road of the future during the educational picnic on September 23. It is already a tradition that the organizers of the Forum: Polish Road Congress and Voivodeship Roads Authority in Olsztyn invite the inhabitants of the region, especially children, to a party combining the advantages of a picnic in the open air with introduction to the everyday work of road administration employees and safe use of roads. This is done through participation in contests as well as in the urban game, which scenario is invented by exceptionally creative employees of ZDW.
The game, consisting in visiting subsequent stations arranged by cooperating institutions and partner companies, is a top element of the picnic. After successfully completing a simple exam or performing a task, the participant gained the title of "the road builder of the future" and got - as on a real construction site - a protective helmet and a reflective vest. At the end, just like in the case of real roads, there was a ceremonial ribbon cut. In the presence of young builders, proud of their work, this was done by the Marshal of the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship Gustaw Marek Brzezin and the President of Olsztyn, Piotr Grzymowicz. Hundreds of balloons, launched by the initiator of the event - the director of the Regional Roads Authority, Waldemar Królikowski, have flown into the sky.