By Reid Passmore
Back in Atlanta
Flying back is always easier. I got through customs in record time too. By first transit experience back in Atlanta was taking Marta to Midtown. I tapped into the station with my Marta card and got to the platform right as my train was leaving. That wasn’t the part I noticed though. The part I noticed was how few resources there were to tell you when the next train arrived. Completely different in the Netherlands. The same applied inside the train as there were no digital monitors indicating the next station. On the way back I was able to see my corridor as well as the Westside Beltline under construction.
Once arriving at the Midtown station, I began my long walk down 10th St. It's a pretty boring 20 minute walk from there to my house. Traffic was busier than usual because of the Atlanta United game. I walked past one car with its windows down and a man audibly complaining about how traffic shouldn't be this bad. While I agreed with him, it was for reasons he probably didn't share. See, I have seen a different alternative that works because of this trip. This alternative needs major adjustments before it can make its way to Atlanta though.
One of the first things that needs to change is our current bike infrastructure. Sure, Atlanta is doing something and that’s great. But they’re doing it the wrong way. Vehicular cycling is for 1% of commuters, so cycling infrastructure shouldn’t cater to them. A 3 foot cycletrack separated by paint and wedged between moving traffic and parked cars is not a healthy alternative nor a strong first impression for would be cyclists.
I have learned a lot from this program. The Netherlands is clearly an amazing place. But it’s not quite for me. I need hills and wilderness desperately. The Netherlands are on a course towards sustainability and have been for a while now. Atlanta is just now starting to set a course with the Beltline. It is important that a Dutch perspective is included in Atlanta’s future or it may never lose its identity as the poster child of sprawl.