As same as many other people I have been intrigued by the Dutch urban mobility. In 2013 I traveled to Rotterdam overall motivated by my curiosity about this particular aspect about Dutch cities. During my participation in the UMD10 I developed a research focused on commuting to work by bicycle in the main institutions of the Erasmus University. Along the development of this research I discovered some interesting aspects not only about urban mobility but also about the Dutch culture. So in these few lines I would like to share with you part of this experience.
After some time refining details I finally launched an online survey in summer 2014. For my surprise, I received back more than 900 questionnaires completed! I was very happy about the positive reaction of employees. And there is more, in the questionnaire I left a further invitation for a personal interview, but contrary to my doubtful expectations, I received much more responses than the number of people I was able to interview! I was very surprised by the interest in this academic exercise. The employees I interviewed in general were very open and flexible to talk about their commuting experiences and to tell some stories about them and their workmates.
So, as same as I was at that moment, I guess (or I hope at least) you are also curious to know some of the results I got from this survey. At this time I split the information in two broad institutions: the Erasmus University of Rotterdam (EUR), and the Erasmus Medical Center (Erasmus MC, which included employees not only from the main building but also from the Daniel hoed Hospital).
The first thing I found was that employees generally travel long distances to travel to work. The average distance traveled from home to work was 24 km for EUR employees and 23 km for the Erasmus MC. In fact, my questionnaire didn’t have the possibility to collect information of people commuting from a different country! During the interviews I confirmed the fact that there were people traveling from Belgium actually. Unfortunately I was not able to collect this information in a quantitative way.
Since I considered it was necessary to capture the variance of the transport mode used in the day-to-day decision I collected and analyzed the information in alternators (people who always travel by the same mode) and non-alternators. In this split I found that 61% of the respondents always used the same mode, the rest use two or more different modes to travel to work.
For those who always use the same mode, it seems that more employees at the EUR use the car (33%) to commute than those at Erasmus MC (13%). Apparently this difference at the Erasmus MC is divided by the use of bicycle (29%) and the combination of public transport and bicycle (29%).
On the other hand, 23% of the employees who alternate the mode of transport in the day-to-day decision used the combination of public transport and bicycle at least occasionally. This proportion was the same for both institutions. For the rest of the modes there were similar results, with the exception of bicycle that was used by the 17% of Erasmus MC employees who alternate mode, in comparison of 14% in the EUR.
The figures shown for the non-alternators were indeed contrasting among these two institutions. In this respect it must be mentioned that the physical conditions and some internal policies also differ. For example, the main location of the Erasmus MC is apparently in a more central area of the city, so the connections to public transport are more diverse. Additionally, one thing that was mentioned during the interviews was the fact that the fare at the car parking was more expensive at the Erasmus MC. These are only some broad insights of how employees travel to work in this specific case. Perhaps, it would be interesting to show some details to better comprehend the mobility in the Erasmus University in following posts.
As an architect I have been restlessness to imagine the possibilities of space. This eagerness did not find its limits in buildings only, but it extended to reflection of how these interact with the city. That interest ultimately led me to the urban studies in order to better understand how cities actually work. The UMD master at IHS broaden my perspective in this regard to continue learning about cities. At the moment I am currently working as researcher at the Transport of Mobility Institute in Guadalajara, Mexico. I’m always motivated to learn more and share knowledge thinking that this will contribute to create better and more equitable cities.
You can e-mail Rafael at: firstname.lastname@example.org