By Anna Nord. May 16, 2017
My name is Anna Nord and I fell in love with a neon pink beach cruiser at the ripe age of 14.
The bike weighed over 40 lbs (nearly half my weight back then), with tire so thick that it glided across the sand. That bike took me everywhere. Well, everywhere my mom would let me ride.
I grew up in Atlantic Beach, Florida, which for the most part, is fairly easy to navigate by bike. The streets near the beach are laid out in a simple grid and contain a low volume of traffic. On the weekends, I biked 9 miles, by myself, to my friend Niki’s house, in Ponte Vedra Beach. Even though there were no bike lanes, we cruised up and down the streets all day. We’d bike to get Icees at the gas station, and then to Pablo Theaters to meet friends at the movies. I didn’t realize or appreciate how much freedom my bike gave me, at the time.
Riding with friends in Atlantic Beach, Florida
When I was 16, my mom moved to a farm on Black Hammock Island, a beautiful remote area north of Jacksonville, Florida. I stopped biking to friends’ houses and, instead, drove nearly 40 minutes to get anywhere I needed to go. Because Jacksonville was (and still is) a very hostile place for cyclists and pedestrians, I accepted driving as the normal form of transportation.
Exposure to biking at a young age instilled in me an unbreakable love for bikes, but It wasn't until I moved to Boulder Colorado that I became aware of how much biking and walking, for transportation, can impact a person’s physical and mental health. I spent 8 years commuting on Boulder and Denver’s greenway networks. The seamless integration between biking and public transit allowed me to live a car free life, during the weekdays. This experience was profound. It motivated me to learn how we can plan, design, and build cities that support walking and biking as a means of transportation.
Bike to Work Day at the 29th Street Mall Boulder, Colorado 2013
I moved to Atlanta, Georgia to study the technical aspects of transportation planning and engineering, at the Georgia Institute of Technology. My experiences with faculty and students, thus far, have been remarkable. I have learned an incredible amount about infrastructure systems and policies, in America. During the Netherlands Sustainable Transportation Study Abroad trip, I hope to continue building on this foundation of knowledge and gain new perspectives on how we can build integrated multi-modal networks and support a culture of cycling.
Riding with my cousin Archie in Atlantic Beach, Florida 2017