I am still in awe with just how the Dutch have woven cycling into their everyday life; not as a lifestyle they choose but it is fully embedded in their culture. It is everyday life for them to ride a bike to get lunch or go shopping, where in the US it is not the first choice for many if a choice at all. In the Netherlands there is plenty of bike parking everywhere, such as the grocery store, Hema, and train stations. Here in the US there are five spots to park at my local grocery store, about eight at Target, and there are two racks at Marta station.
Cycling infrastructure is not part of design here in the States. It is slowly changing, but why would anyone ride anywhere if there is nowhere to park their bike at the destination. The Dutch make it so easy for someone to bike anywhere. On Sunday, we biked to The Keringhuis which is in the middle of nowhere and there was bike infrastructure the whole way there. We were adjacent to a highway at some points and felt completely safe, we rode through small towns and the infrastructure continued flawlessly. Wayfinding was easy and convenient if traveling to a new area and if you knew where you were going. One cultural aspect that has influenced their design is to protect the cyclist more than cars. They see that the cyclist is so much more vulnerable to injury than someone traveling in a car. This has influenced design by keeping the cyclists away from high speed cars and when they are mixed together it is at low speeds and often the cyclist has priority.
An example of how design has influenced culture is they have put thought into their system as a whole and have connected it all together. For me to get from GA Tech to Atlantic Station the ride is 95% on roads shared with cars. For me to get from my house to GA Tech I am on the road with cars 40% of the time. Our design lacks the connectivity which makes people feel secure therefore it influences the culture not to think twice about cycling. Their design is built to where a child in grade school could navigate whereas in the US you must have the mindset of a fearless cyclist at times to get from point A to point B.
The US is so car centric with the mentality that I need to get there right now, that to have another mode of transportation such as cycling is unheard off. The US is slowing coming around I believe that if we keep on making connections to expand the network we will get there. I don’t think this can be done overnight, but slowly it is possible. In Atlanta it is going to come to a point where a cyclist and transit rider will make it home before a car on a constant basis. Hopefully it doesn't get to that point, but if it does maybe eyes will open to other modes of transportation.