Atlanta’s bike infrastructure definitely isn’t perfect, but, to be honest, neither are my cycling abilities. I was pleasantly surprised by the bike facilities in Atlanta. The night before the bike tour I had a moment of panic, because I had never rode a bike in this city before. I imagined cars honking and some minor crashes along the way. However, for the entirety of the bike tour I felt safe and protected. It’s important to note that the bike tour’s route was meticulously curated to only show the best bike facilities Atlanta had to offer. I imagine it would be difficult to bike regularly if you didn’t live in close proximity to the Atlanta Beltline. Atlanta is not a city you can just hop on a bike and get where you need to go. Biking requires planning ahead and avoiding the city’s notorious rush hour traffic. My experiences last Friday encouraged me to every once in a while ditch my running shoes for a bike!
Intersections are designed very differently in the Netherlands. All the transportation infrastructure in the Netherlands was created with cyclists in mind. In the United States, bike lanes are added as an afterthought or extra amenity. Dutch junctions use many different techniques to maintain the safety of all cyclists. Some of the most prominent methods include colored cycle tracks, protective islands, and adjustment of the stop bar location for vehicles. One of the most effective ways to keep cyclists safe is to never have them interact with vehicles at all. There are some streets in the Netherlands completely devoted to bicyclists. This concept is almost unimaginable in a city like Atlanta.
Cycling is perceived as a respected mode of transportation in the Netherlands. Dutch comprehensive plans reflect this perception. In contrast, most parts of the United States view cycling as a leisure activity or form of exercise. In fact, some families will load their bikes in the car and travel many miles to designated trails to bike. But in the Netherlands, you can hop on a bike anywhere and get where you need to go! It might even be easier than using a car. Cycling is safe in the Netherlands too. Most cyclists don’t even wear helmets, because it makes biking look dangerous. There’s no need for fancy spandex outfits or protective gear. Cycling is conveniently integrated into the Dutch lifestyle.