Hello, and welcome to my Sustainable Transport Abroad blog! My name is Corey Whitlock, and I’m a 3rd year civil engineering student.
Where I’m from
For my entire life, I have lived in the metro Atlanta area. In Atlanta and its surrounding suburbs, we ironically use a form of transportation to specify whether we’re true Atlantans or not: Interstate 285, also known as “the perimeter” by Atlantans. If you live inside the perimeter, you live no more than 25 minutes from the heart of the city. You’re a true Atlantan. If we apply the perimeter standard, I am no true Atlantan; I spent 16 of my first 18 years in a small city called Lilburn. Lilburn has a little bit over a 12,000 people, and it’s around 40 minutes northeast of Atlanta. So while I’m not an “inside the perimeter” (or ITP as we say) resident, I grew up going into the city quite often, and am as familiar with it as someone could be who has lived close enough to it their whole life.
For some background on Lilburn, Georgia, I’ll provide the highlights. Lilburn is in the southeast corner of Gwinnett County, one of the most diverse, fastest-growing counties in the United States. Of the 3 members of the rap group “Migos”, 2 are from Lilburn, where they attended one of my rival high schools, Berkmar. Yes, I am a very good rapper, and no, I am not personal friends with any of them, but did watch a football game that one of them played in (it was Quavo; he lost). Lilburn is also a talent pocket for baseball; my high school has won 3 national championships in the past 8 years! So, I grew up around the sport for the entirety of my childhood and played until I graduated.
How my travels have influenced my thinking on transportation
For as great a city as Atlanta is, it’s quite common knowledge that it does not have the robust system of transport that many other great cities have. In fact, my home county, along with multiple others within the metro area, has refused to allow MARTA (the train system) to expand into them! So when we needed to get somewhere, it was almost always by car. And though Atlanta has taken massive strides towards a more integrated system of transit with projects like the beltline in recent years, Lilburn still has more steps to take before biking can be a true from of transit.
My view of transportation has been heavily influenced by three things, and two of them have been trips I’ve taken (the third is the creation of the Beltline, the project that inspired me to become a civil engineer). The first trip was one to Washington DC, and I took it when I was 12. On that trip, I got to ride the Washington Metro, which is arguably one of the more robust subway systems in the United States. I remember being incredibly impressed that the trains could actually take you to places you wanted and needed to go to. As a kid who grew up with MARTA, this was all but normal to me. I also took an incredible bike tour of the city, which was influential in that I really got to understand firsthand just how effective, and healthy, bike transit could be. The other trip that has influenced my perception of transportation was a trip I took last winter break to London. I got to ride the London Tube around, along with the multiple bus lines connected to the stations (yes, the fun red, double-decker ones!). Once again, I was reminded of how effective a well-designed subway system could be, and the impact it could have on a city’s people. Both of those trips have made me keenly interested in transportation. Atlanta is a place I can truly call my home now, and we have a lot of improvements to be made before we can truly call it a transport model for the modern world. One day, however, I hope that can change.
My goals for this course
I have a few goals, and they are as follows:
- To understand how Dutch culture and attitudes drive their devotion to sustainable transport, and to evaluate the necessary cultural changes the United States would need to undergo.
- To come up with some good ideas on how Atlanta’s transport system could be improved.
- To think of ways that I could be a leader in sustainable transport in the United States.
I’m extremely excited to have the opportunity to study all of this in this class and to travel to the Netherlands to learn hands-on! I’ve only been to Europe once, when I went to London, so I’m psyched for such a cool opportunity.