Although, I encountered a few challenges the overall experience was great. The main challenge for me was safety. When the class was crossing the street to ride on Atlanta’s first cycle track, it did not feel safe. I think the road had a faint cross walk, but did not have any indications for cyclists to cross. When riding on Atlanta’s first cycle track, it felt safe because it was protected by bollards. As soon as the track was not protected, a car swerved into my lane and I immediately felt unsafe. Another challenge was riding in the bike lane, and a car was parked in the way. This was a big issue, because it caused us to bike around the car, into ongoing traffic or bike on the sidewalk with pedestrians.
Over all biking in Atlanta for my first time was great. I enjoyed going on the Beltline for the first time, and seeing how it catered to cyclists. The bike share stations were very convenient. I like how stations are all over Atlanta, and anyone can rent them to ride. The protected bike lane, that is connected from downtown to Georgia’s Tech campus was very safe and designed well. The green pavement to indicate a bike lane on that route was noticeable and not distracting.
In the Netherlands, they have one-way cycle tracks on each side of the street. This differs from the US, because on one cycle track there are two directions going at the same time. Throughout the videos, you can tell, the idea of cyclist and cycle tracks in the Netherlands has been evolving. Whereas in Atlanta it is new. The Netherlands cycle track is very safe. From the video, you would never see a car parked in a bike lane. During rush hour, the Netherlands reminded me of downtown Atlanta cars. I have never seen so many people on bikes, and in Atlanta during rush hour I see the same number of people in cars.
Cycling in the Netherlands is a norm. From the videos, it seems like more people have a license to ride a bike than drive a car. The people did not look uncomfortable or seem to feel unsafe when cycling. In the Netherlands, cycling caterers to all ages, and have great facilities such as parking and share stations. The cyclist is so uniformed, that I noticed everyone has the same type of bike just different colors. The Netherlands is an iconic model for cycling.
Hello and welcome to the 2019 edition of the Sustainable Transport Abroad blog! My name is Dave Ederer. This is my second year as TA for the course, and third year of my PhD.
Where am I from?
I grew up in Buffalo, New York. I didn't realize it at the time, but Buffalo has a rich transportation history. I grew up right around the corner from one of America's great transportation projects: the Erie Canal. I also like to point that we had a "BeltLine" long before that became a trendy idea. Fredrick Law Olmsted designed an interconnected system of parks and parkways. I love my hometown and always enjoyed riding my bicycle, but always took advantage of any excuse to take the Metro Rail. It was my favorite way of getting around town and remains so! If you get a chance to visit Buffalo, check it out. I'll give you some tips.
How have my travels influenced my thinking on transportation?
I left Buffalo for college and have lived in many places since then, including Jeju Island, Ann Arbor, and the Philadelphia area. My first year out of college in South Korea changed how I viewed transportation. I did not have access to a car, but I did have a bicycle and a transit pass. I was forced to navigate an unfamiliar country with little grasp of the language without a vehicle. This was a profound experience. I learned that I could get most places with a bicycle and a bus pass with a little planning. To this day, I predominately travel by bicycle and transit. I moved to Atlanta in 2013, and still primarily travel by bicycle and transit.
Goals for the course
I've visited the Netherlands quite a few times, and this is my third time serving as a TA for the course. My goals for this course are to:
Help our students improve their writing,
better understand how value judgments influence design and planning of transportation infrastructure, and
introduce the class to a country and culture that I've become familiar with over several years.
I look forward to talking all things transportation and teaching you the proper technique for eating nieuwe haring.
My name is Jack Glodek and I’m from Schwenksville, Pennsylvania, which is a suburb of Philadelphia. Even though we are so far (33 miles) from downtown, we still have great bike infrastructure near our house. There aren’t many options for people to bike on the roads, as there isn’t really a main “town” to bike around, but there is a well-kept bike path that runs along a creek by our house. One can take this path to many parks and destinations, but if one is feeling up to it, the path can be taken all the way to downtown Philadelphia.
Most of the time, our family would just go for small bike rides along this path, but once I did make it all the way to Philadelphia and back. It was so much fun to complete the challenge, but I remember it was also fun to see how the path had been created. They had taken an old rail corridor all the way down to the city and turned it into a bike path, which I thought was awesome. The only place where the path wasn’t on an old railroad right-of-way was when it went through a town about 5 miles from the end. The path just ended in some parking lot and it was expected that riders would then just ride through these bustling roads with almost no shoulder or sidewalks. There were also no signs directing me through the town, which made it even more difficult. It was so bad that I almost had to turn around, only a few miles from my destination.
I think it’s amazing that there could be so much money put into this path, making it look very nice and encouraging ridership, but then there be a major chokepoint through a town with no signage and infrastructure. This was not encouraging people to bike.
I’m most excited to learn about the way the Netherlands handles similar bike infrastructure and how they avoid situations like this. I’ve travelled abroad only once (on the Pacific Program) and my absolute favorite part was the public transportation network in Sydney. It felt a billion times nicer and entirely different from the transportation options in both Philadelphia and Atlanta. It’s interesting to me to compare a not-so-well planned network (like in Atlanta) with a very well-planned network (like in Sydney), so I’m hoping to notice similar parallels when comparing the United States and the Netherlands.
Me looking very excited on the trains in Sydney.
I’m extremely excited to take this class and travel to Europe. I hope to get as much as possible out of it as it will be a unique learning environment and be totally different from any class I’ve ever taken.
Hello, my name is Amy Harper. Where I am from does not have a simple answer. I don’t have a hometown nor a house that I have lived in for more than 4 years. My father was in the military and by the time I was 12 I lived in 3 States and 2 countries. I spent most of my childhood in Germany, from 6th grade to high school graduation, moving to a different house once while there for 7 years. So, I am just going to stick to Germany as to where I am from, although I am not German.
Now that the explanation is out of the way, the part of Germany I grew up in was called Kaiserslautern which is where Ramstein Air Base is located. Transportation on the base for a teenager mainly consists of walking everywhere or taking the free bus that loops around the main spots on base. I lived off base about 3 miles and would frequently ride my bike to base on an off-road dirt path, not along the streets. Once I got to base I would resort to just walking everywhere from my friend’s house. Transportation on base does not have a good infrastructure for cycling but it is established for pedestrians and public transportation. This off course is an opinion of a teenager who did not have a car.
Two of the places that have influenced my thinking about transportation are St Louis and London. I went to St. Louis for a last-minute concert and didn’t want to rent a car after flying in. I just wanted to use public transportation and/or walk. Their transit and pedestrian friendly walkways made this seamless. I went to London and flew into Stansted Airport which is northeast of the city. I had to take a train into London and transfer to the tube. Using the train to get to London just solidified the idea that traveling with a car is more stressful to get from point A to B and alternative transportation is the way to go. Traveling anywhere within the United States or overseas, I tend to lean more to the cities where I don’t have to drive and instead use other modes of transportation. Whether that be as a pedestrian or on transit. I have not really looked at bike infrastructure as a point of interest in a travel destination before, but no better time to start than now.
What am I looking for in this course is to see what an end goal for US infrastructure can be. I am hopeful to see a blueprint that American cities can be modeled after. With this idea in mind, I would be able identify steps the US can take to integrate a sustainable and useable infrastructure into existing cities such as Atlanta.
By the time I turned 10, my family had moved three times. We spent five years in both Memphis and Houston before migrating to southeast Michigan for my dad’s job in the automotive industry. I lived in Michigan for eight years before returning south for college. All of the places I’ve lived differ from each other, but one thing they all have in common is their unremarkable transportation systems.
It wasn’t until my senior year of college that I began to understand the importance of “alternative” modes of transportation to achieve environmental sustainability goals. As an undergraduate, I was actively involved in the environmental advocacy student group on campus and interned for several years with the university’s Office of Sustainability. As a senior, I completed a research project to analyze and make recommendations to enhance the City of Oxford, Mississippi’s Complete Streets policy. This project paved the way to my first job out of college as a Sustainability Fellow in the sustainability office. In this position, I transitioned from working on policy to developing educational programs and planning engagement events focused on active transportation. In the few years since my first job, my interest and appreciation for transportation has deepened.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to intern with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA). The experience of living car-free in a city like San Francisco taught me as much, if not more, as my internship itself. I had major Craigslist luck and found a gorgeous apartment within a 10-minute walk of work. Most everything I needed was within a 10-minute walk - groceries, parks, entertainment, restaurants and bars. For everything else, I hopped on the bus directly in front of my house that took me all the way to the ocean. It was really that simple.
I imagine our trip to the Netherlands to be similarly transformative as my summer in San Francisco, perhaps even more so. Through this course, I plan to learn new design principles and strategies from the Dutch that can be integrated into the current transportation network in Atlanta. Additionally, I hope to get to know, work alongside, and learn from my peers in the class.
Hello people of the world! My name is Andrew and I am a fifth year in my final semester as a undergrad studying Civil Engineering here at Georgia Tech. I am originally from Greenville, North Carolina which is located in the rural eastern portion of the state halfway between the coast and Raleigh. Greenville, being home to East Carolina University and Vidant Medical Center (the largest hospital east of I-95 in NC), is considered the big city in our part of the state but for the most part it is very similar to the sprawling suburbs of Atlanta. Cars dominate as the primary mode of travel, biking is really only for recreation, and nobody takes the bus unless you have absolutely no other choice. I come from a family of cyclists with my dad being an avid roadie and my older brother and sister-in-law being adrenaline obsessed mountain bikers, but never used cycling as a transportation until I came to Atlanta for school.
During my time in school I had the opportunity to travel to Sydney, Australia, where as part of our program we were provided with unlimited use transit passes to access the various ferries, buses, and trains that operate in the city. This was my first experience with a fairly comprehensive and effective transit system (sorry MARTA I love you but….) and was probably the start of my move toward transit as a career path. I was enthralled with the high frequency of the trains moving through Central Station and Circular Quay and the strange ferry system that shuttled us off to the beaches each afternoon. In addition to visiting Sydney, I have spent time in numerous US cities that have varying levels of effective transit, bike, and pedestrian infrastructure and that have influenced my view of transportation. The cities I have spent time in include Louisville, Boston, San Francisco, Charlotte, Raleigh, Washington D.C., and Huntington, WV.
Ultimately, my main goal for this course is the gain useful knowledge about some of the best integrated bike and transit design in the world. After graduation, I will be working for a consulting firm doing transportation planning and design work here in Atlanta and I want to be able to bring in elements of things that are done in the Netherlands to improve both transit and cycling in the metro Atlanta area. Outside the transportation realm, I am also looking to learning about the Dutch culture because my grandfather is a first generation American whose parents immigrated from the Netherlands.
Hi! My name is Michelle Henriques and I am a third year Civil Engineering undergraduate. I grew up in the very small town of Roselle Park, New Jersey - so small that we can walk from one end of the one square mile town to the other in a half hour. Although Roselle Park itself did not have its own public transportation system this does not mean I was a stranger to public transportation. Roselle Park is a fifteen minute car ride from one of New Jersey’s biggest cities, Newark, and approximately a 45 minute train ride to New York Penn Station. For these reasons Roselle Park was easily incorporated into many large, robust bus and train routes for commuters into New York City. Growing up in close proximately to Manhattan and visiting often gave me the opportunity to learn about the New York City subway system. Before leaving for college and traveling abroad in Europe I thought the NYC subway system and the New Jersey/New York connection by train was as good as it got when it came to public transportation systems. Despite its many downfalls, it still intrigued me.
2017 truly opened my eyes the most about transportation because of my travels. I had traveled to Portugal to visit family many times before but we always rented a car. Participating in Georgia Tech Lorraine gave me the opportunity to travel to Paris, Munich, Berlin, Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Nice, Monaco, Barcelona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, Vienna, Budapest, and London all by train from the relatively small city of Metz, France. Metz itself had a strong bicyclist population and individual bus lanes that made getting from my dorm to downtown fast, easy, and incredibly reliable. After arriving in Europe I quickly realized how much more efficient and sustainable public transportation could be when cities don’t just focus on vehicles.
I willingly admit I have a lot to learn from the Dutch! I hope this course will not only enrich my knowledge on safe, sustainable multimodal systems but give me the opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone of math classes and equation based design into a world of systems thinking approach with case study analysis and application. I am excited to learn about the Netherlands and their approach to transportation infrastructure and apply it to Atlanta.
Hi everyone! I’m Anna, a third year civil engineering major and global engineering leadership minor here at Tech. I grew up a Tech fan, even though I was born and raised in Greensboro, NC. I like to describe Greensboro as “middle-north” North Carolina – about 6 hours up I-85 from Atlanta. Greensboro is the third largest city in NC and, from my perspective, its transportation system leaves much to be desired. There is a public bus system, but I have never used it. The buses are only useful to get downtown, and do not stop anywhere nearer the edges of the city, where I lived. They don’t even have a route that connects to the airport. There are also very few designated bike lanes in the city. The combination of these two factors make personal vehicles the most convenient form of travel for most people I know. Even though biking isn’t promoted as a mode of transportation, it is a common form of recreation. There are a good amount of parks and trails to bike in, but most people have to drive to the trail head.
As for travel, I was fortunate enough to participate in the Georgia Tech Lorraine program last spring. I got to visit eleven different European countries and used public transportation in most of them. If we didn’t use subways or buses in a city, we walked. I never once used a car in Europe, even a taxi. The thing I liked the most about their transportation was how easy it was to get between cities and even countries. It was a weird concept to me that using a train, within an hour we could be in a different country. If I drove in any direction from Greensboro for an hour I would still be in NC. The well-organized network of trains made nearly the whole continent accessible from Metz, France. I did get the chance to stop in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Leiden that semester, but we didn’t use bikes. I’m excited to get the chance to go back and do that!
My goals for this course include understanding more about transportation infrastructure and learning about ways to help develop a more sustainable system in the US. I am sure there is a lot to be learned from the Dutch system and I can’t wait to see it for myself!
Hey there! My name is Kaitlyn Schaffer. I am a fourth year civil engineering major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There are very few transportation options in Pittsburgh. Most people are dependent on cars to get from one place to another. There is a Port Authority of Allegheny County bus stop at the end of my street, but it is underutilized due to unreliable travel times. Pittsburgh also has a light rail option known by locals as “The T.” It has a limited number of stops given that it is only 26 miles long. I have only seen it operating at capacity on Sunday afternoons when the Steelers are playing at home. Other than those two options, there is the Duquesne Incline that used to transport steel workers living on Mount Washington to steel mills in downtown. Today the incline is a fun tourist attraction with an excellent view of the Pittsburgh skyline, but is not a practical option for commuters.
I studied abroad the summer after my second year at Georgia Tech in Eastern Europe. The program included nine weeks in the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. There were many practical transit options to get to class and work. Mostly I used light rail systems and street cars. I was impressed at how many different routes there were and how close I could get to my destination without having to walk an extra mile or two. It was also cool to see how few cars there were on the streets and that a lot of space did not have to be devoted to parking. It was definitely overwhelming coming back to Atlanta and experiencing six lane highways with almost all single occupant vehicles!
Exploring is one of my favorite things to do and when some of my most valuable learning takes place. I have always thought the coolest aspects of civil engineering are having the opportunity to serve communities and the potential to see my designs in use every day. The Sustainable Transit Abroad course offers an incredible opportunity to learn through exploration of the innovative ways the Dutch design transit. After completing the Eastern Europe Leadership for Social Good program, my interest in effective and sustainable social missions was sparked. CEE 4803E will help me apply the things I learned abroad in the transportation sector and refine my interests in both social entrepreneurship and transportation prior to graduation in May.
(Just a fun side note… If you couldn’t tell from the images in this blogpost, I have a huge collection of postcards from every city I’ve visited. I’m really looking forward to adding a few new ones from the Netherlands.)
Hiya! My name’s Richard and I’m excited to be biking through the Netherlands for a whole week! This is the part I’m most excited for because it is quite far out of my comfort zone. Before I worry Dr. Watkins too much: I have ridden a bike before, and I am more than capable of biking 15-20 miles. What I mean is that this is most unique and interesting part of this course, and that is why I am most excited about it. Yes, I look forward to learning about all the transportation concepts; but, transportation is my main game, it’s what I will (hopefully) do in my future.
At this point in my life, bikes have become foreign to me; I haven’t touched one since middle school. Growing up in a suburban neighborhood, bicycles were just used to run around for fun up and down the residential streets. They never crossed my mind as a viable means of transportation.
I am from Puerto Rico, whose transportation system can best be described as an exacerbated version of the United States’ suburbia. Despite being a small island, 100x35 miles, it has one of the highest rates of vehicles per capita: 614 per 1000 people, higher than the United States (Syrowik, 2017). With 2/3 of the whole island’s population living in the metropolitan area of San Juan, traffic jams on our way to school every morning was a given. I drove a car to literally everywhere, and my house has a Walk Score of 11. Bus systems are stuck in traffic almost everywhere, though I have seen some bus lanes around certain parts of the metro area. In my 18 years of growing up in Puerto Rico, I got on a public bus two times, both for a field trip. The buses are old, dirty, unreliable, and inefficient. Basically, everything that people think the MARTA bus system is but isn’t, Puerto Rican buses are. A heavy rail “Tren Urbano” was built in the last decade as a political show. It connects business, education, and retail centers, but serves no large population corridors. I rode on it once as a kid during its free trial period, but looking at online pictures now, I am reminded of how pretty of a system it is. The entire system is fully automated.
Last Spring, I studied abroad at GTL, forever changing the way I viewed public transportation. Each new city I visited was an amazing experience exploring their transit system. In Paris, a car is virtually useless; everywhere is within reach of the trains. In Munich, whole cities exist underground at each U-bahn stop, complete with stores and grocery shops selling fresh food. In Copenhagen, whole bridges and neighborhoods are reserved for bicycles and buses only. In Barcelona, the beach connects to the mountains with a beautiful system that connects you to all of Gaudi’s works. In Berlin, far-flung suburban neighborhoods are stitched together by an amazing web of trains. But in The Netherlands? I don’t know! I didn’t get to go there that semester, which is why it’s going to be amazing to go there now!
Before I took CEE 4610 last semester, I was very much a public transportation-oriented fellow: mass transit was the only solution to our problems. Unfortunately for Dr. Rodgers, Dr. Watkins did a great job of explaining that the solution really lies in getting people out of their cars. This can be done through a combination of not only great mass transit planning, but also investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure to get more people active during their commute. The goal is the same, the approach is more multimodal and wholistic in thought. I hope to learn a lot of things from my Netherlands trip, but what I really want to learn is how they’re so effective, as a whole society, in eschewing motor vehicles in favor of a huge bicycle system.
Syrowik, Tess. 2017, April 25. Countries With The Most Automobiles Per Capita. Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-most-automobiles-per-capita.html