Carlos Nuno Barbosa, PhD student at University of Minho (UM) under the MIT Portugal Doctoral Program in Leaders for Technical Industries (LTI), has been developing a Rail Bike Adaptor (RBA) with the collaboration of other MIT Portugal students: Jorge Marques from UM and João Figueiredo, Miguel Oliveira and Lídia Teixeira from FEUP.
The idea was first presented to the students by the professor Eduardo Beira, then at UM and currently at Técnico Lisboa. The aim was to create a product with a light structure and with an aesthetic quality that allowed the combinations of two bicyclists side-by-side on the same platform in order to ride the railways that are no longer in use.
In a broader sense, the RBA project has the potential to promote and value the endogenous economic, social, cultural and environmental resources being very attractive for end-users as for companies interested in including the rail biking into their ‘portfolio’ activities at the same level as more common activities such as hiking, canoeing, etc. The existent prototype was already successfully tested on a rail of around 11 kilometers with 5 people on board. The users, of different genders and age gaps, have agreed that the RBA is very easy to ride.
The interaction with local authorities and companies has been essential for the RBA’s success that counts with the support of REFER, the public company responsible for providing the public service of managing the national railway network infrastructure in Portugal, and municipalities, that are in charge of protecting the railroads, either the ones in operation as the ones that are no longer used - and nowadays there are around 800Kms of abandoned railways tracks.
As the researchers continue to implement and promote the work in progress (e.g. improving the existent prototype into a more functional, portable, lighter and affordable), they are also drawing up plans to develop a new concept based on Skateboards.
This project was presented previously at the International Conference RailRoads in Historical Context: Construction, Costs and Consequences within the context of the FOZTUA Project, a joint interdisciplinary project between MIT (USA) and University of Minho (Portugal), sponsored by EDP and under the auspices of the MIT Portugal Program. More than 40 specialists attended this event to discuss both the history and the future of the Tua railroad and Tua Valley.
In the media:
Diário do Minho
Jornal das 8 (TVI) ; Porto Canal ; Universia Portugal ; Sic Noticias