by April Gadsby
One of the most interesting parts of Dutch infrastructure is how separated, but integrated all the infrastructure is. This is most apparent with their transit infrastructure. Most of their major train stations (at least the ones we visited) had ways of connecting by bus, bike, and car and often had connections to tram systems as well. Walking among the streets, one could often see public transit lines, bike lanes, and car facilities in the same space. It was all a bit of a transportation engineer's dream.
One of the most amazing things to see is their bike parking garages. They build parking lots of thousands of bikes, sometimes more than 10,000 bikes! With so many bike commuters, they often have far fewer car spaces. They have two layers of bike parking on each floor. It can be a bit slow and challenging to get the bike into a top rack, but the Dutch are able to do this much more rapidly than I could. These bike parking garages are easily accessible from the train station. In Delft it is connected to the station and one can simply park a bike and walk into the station. This makes the connection very quick and easy, easier than parking a car and walking into most places in my opinion. THis is especially true because these parking garages, although they can be very large, can be much smaller to accommodate the same amount of bikes as the car. I think this also helps in reliability of travel times. Their train system is very timely and frequent. When riding a bike, there isn't unexpected traffic that could delay you which makes it a more reliable form of transportation in terms of time. The trick is finding a parking space for the bike since these garages are often full. But by having the parking so close to the train gates, it helps quicken the parking process and improve the timeliness of using a bike for the last mile problem and encourages more biking.
Although they have such great parking, bikes can be carried on board the trains. Doors where bikes can be brought are marked. This typically requires an extra fee, so we did not do this. I only saw 1 person bring their bike in. With how cheap their bikes are, it is possible to own a bike both at the origin and destination. They also have an inexpensive bike share program that operates off the same card. There really is little reason to bring a bike onboard a train.
These cards that work on all the public transit and the bikeshare are a great form of integration. It makes transitions and management of funds for travel easier. This is partially made possible because the train company also runs the bikeshare since they saw it as a benefit to them. It would be nice to have this kind of integration in Atlanta, but with so many different agencies, it can be a challenge.
Overall, their transit system is timely, frequent, integrated, and centrally located making it easy to use and easily accessible. This makes it a part of life in the Netherlands in ways that it is not here.