Where am I from?
Figure 1: DC Metro Map
Source: humantransit.org, 2012
My name is Ben Weishaar and I am a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a Civil Engineering major with a Global Engineering Leadership minor. I am from Germantown, Maryland, a large suburban town about an hour north of Washington, DC. Germantown is about a fifteen-minute drive from the end of the DC metro, so I took the train into the city often growing up. Local bus service was available around me, but most people traveled by car. I lived along the 270 spur off the DC beltway, so rush hour traffic was always a problem. Very few people biked for transportation, and most roads do not have any space for bikers to travel safely around cars.
How have my travels influenced my thinking on transportation?
My travel to this point has been relatively limited. I took a trip to Italy with my family when I was 10, I went to Canada with friends when I was 18, I have traveled up and down I-95 from Boston to Jacksonville, and I have been to Chicago. The only aspect of transportation I remember from Italy was going up and down the hills of Tuscany on narrow, bumpy streets, in a stick shift van that my grandfather barely knew how to drive. My trip to Canada included planes, trains, and automobiles, but nothing struck me as innovative. I have been on trains in Boston, Chicago, and New York, all of which are far superior to the MARTA. Until now, I have never focused on transportation systems when traveling, but I am excited to learn from the Netherlands and their advanced biking systems.
Goals for the course
I have spent the past two summers working as an intern at a land development consulting firm in Germantown, and some of my work involved transportation planning and roadway section design. I presented options to clients based on lane use for driving, parking, biking, and walking, as well as space for trees and benches. Montgomery County Maryland recently passed a bicycle master plan, hoping to create safe travel for cyclists and reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Learning about how the Dutch use infrastructure to encourage safe and efficient biking will be incredibly useful for my future career. Many areas of the United States are pushing for sustainable transportation, and many Dutch techniques would be help create safer bicycle infrastructure here. I would like to continue my work in land development, and I want to be able to incorporate sustainable transportation solutions into future projects. I am also looking forward to spending time with industry professionals from the U.S. and the Netherlands. I would like to continue building my professional network and learn from the experiences of Professional Engineers in different areas.