Collectively as a nation, last year we travelled almost 200 billi- on kilometres using passenger transport according to Statistics Netherlands.
To do this, we used the nearly 140,000 kilometres of roads and the over 300,000 kilometres of railway tracks in our small country. We travelled mainly by car – the number of kilometres travelled by vehicle has increased by thirty per cent over the past quarter century. And these figures do not include air travel. Dutch airports served over 57 million passengers last year. Thanks to technology, our personal world has become infinitely large. While a hundred years ago, most lives were lived out within a radius of a few dozen kilometres, today’s commuters think nothing of a daily round trip from Delft to Amsterdam.
In the past, if you were elderly and infirm, you would be confined to your house. But now technology keeps us mobile into old age. The hope is that the same technology can ensure that we will remain mobile in the future and that our infrastructure does not get clogged up. To do this, mechanical solutions can obviously play a role – such as exoskeletons, a steering aid for elderly cyclists and dynamic lane guidance. But we will never achieve this with engineering alone. Changes in behaviour therefore make up the second important aspect of this edition of Delft Outlook with its theme of movement. As ergonomics expert Peter Vink says in his interview: As long as [users] can press a button before something happens, they are happy – and otherwise they are not.’