Hi everyone! I’m Anna, a third year civil engineering major and global engineering leadership minor here at Tech. I grew up a Tech fan, even though I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC. I like to describe Greensboro as “middle-north” North Carolina – about 6 hours up I-85 from Atlanta. Greensboro is the third largest city in NC and, from my perspective, its transportation system leaves much to be desired. There is a public bus system, but I have never used it. The buses are only useful to get downtown, and do not stop anywhere nearer the edges of the city, where I lived. They don’t even have a route that connects to the airport. There are also very few designated bike lanes in the city. The combination of these two factors make personal vehicles the most convenient form of travel for most people I know. Even though biking isn’t promoted as a mode of transportation, it is a common form of recreation. There are a good amount of parks and trails to bike in, but most people have to drive to the trail head.
As for travel, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Georgia Tech Lorraine program last spring. I got to visit eleven different European countries and used public transportation in most of them. If we didn’t use subways or buses in a city, we walked. I never once used a car in Europe, even a taxi. The thing I liked the most about their transportation was how easy it was to get between cities and even countries. It was a weird concept to me that using a train, within an hour we could be in a different country. If I drove in any direction from Greensboro for an hour I would still be in NC. The well-organized network of trains made nearly the whole continent accessible from Metz, France. I did get the chance to stop in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Leiden that semester, but we didn’t use bikes. I’m excited to get the chance to go back and do that!
My goals for this course include understanding more about transportation infrastructure and learning about ways to help develop a more sustainable system in the US. I am sure there is a lot to be learned from the Dutch system and I can’t wait to see it for myself!