By April Gadsby
Houten is a city built around slow moving traffic. It was required to grow 2 times. The first time, they built a new city center around the train station and a ring road for the vehicles, but the city center was only accessible by foot or bike.The second extended the ring road, but did not have any housing until the train station was built so people wouldn't be used to traveling by car. They very much prioritized reducing noise and air pollution. It felt very safe and like the perfect place to raise a family. The guy leading us was clearly passionate about bike as a mode of transportation stating that the infrastructure to protect bikes was not expensive because of the bikes, but because of the cars. Overall, they seemed very proud of their way of life.
However, Houten has some problems with commuting. Although built around train stations, over 60% of citizens drive elsewhere to work. Although their planning was great for infrastructure, they did not attract the companies that would keep people employed in the city. Additionally, they actually have enough jobs for everyone which means people commute from elsewhere to work in Houten.
Atlanta seems to have the opposite problems, poor infrastructure for slow traffic and everyone commuting to it for work. But, this is really a suburban sort of city, so it may be more applicable in a suburban setting. Houten was built from nothing and carefully planned. It could be possible to build new areas copying this method, but I think focusing on our existing infrastructure is important. Some of the concepts could be applied, such as protected bike lanes or closing the city center to vehicular traffic. The double roundabout would be a very cool thing to add, but very expensive. I think that the most important thing that we could take from Houten is a mentality of the importance of infrastructure for slower, more sustainable modes of transportation. Although cars still need to be able to exist, we could make it so they are not always the most important mode with the others as a forethought. Biking, walking, and public transit are safer, create less pollution (both air and noise), and healthier for the public, so it is reasonable to prioritize these modes. But I think we could find a middle point with a balanced approach where we could prioritize these modes and still allow for cars.