In the basement of Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston Campus a motorbike is driven at speeds exceeding 60 miles per hour. The bike has remained stationary, even though the clock shows thousands of miles, but the research impact has traveled as far as Delhi and Taiwan, influencing emissions and safety policy at a national level.

Global Impact from a basement lab in the centre of Edinburgh

“It was easier and more economic to buy a motorbike specifically for this study,” says Professor of Transport Engineering Wafaa Saleh as she introduces us to the impressive and powerful Honda motorbike that lives in a basement lab at Edinburgh Napier University’s Merchiston campus, situated in the heart of Edinburgh, not far from the old town.

“It smells awesome,” says one of Wafaa’s students who has come to demonstrate the motorbike as we enter the lab. The motorbike, tethered to a treadmill, with a funnel capturing the exhaust fumes, will be driven at high speed in its current location. 

The bike, still gleaming, having never seen the light of day, is the legacy of Ravindra Kumar who completed his PhD at Edinburgh Napier University before becoming a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the University’s Transport Research Institute. He has worked for the Central Road Research Institute in Delhi for almost 20 years and his PhD was funded by the Government of India. 

I am proud that the work we do has impact internationally. Lots of countries need support and an aim of the Transport Research Institute is to support the built environment in every community.

Impact in Delhi and beyond

The bike has been used to measure emissions by several PhD students and for a variety of purposes. The impact of the experiments has been far reaching, and not only in Delhi where Ravindra’s work at Edinburgh Napier has had a part to play in emissions policy making. The bike has been used to investigate accidents by a Taiwanese student and four PhD students from the Middle East have conducted research projects, including two police officers who completed their PhD’s under Wafaa’s supervision.

Wafaa is also proud to tell us that she is the first female Professor of Transport Engineering in the UK. Since achieving this status it is easy to see how many students and research fellows Wafaa’s work has impacted and that the impact of the Transport Research Institute is far reaching in ways large and small.