June 29, 2011
I have just arrived in Amsterdam. I am totally overwhelmed. It is a transportation cacophony. It feels more dense than NYC. I am so excited for what will unfold in front of me in the next two weeks. Once the high speed train crossed over the German- Dutch border, I could see an immediate increase in bike facilities. Amsterdam is drowning in bikes. I am totally overwhelmed. Portland can't keep up with the needed bike parking and neither can the Dutch. It is a sea of bikes!
The thing that excites me the most about taking a course in transportation engineering in the Netherlands is that we get to experience what it is actually like to use other types of transportation, not just read about it in a book. As an avid commuter cyclist in Portland I ride my bike fast and hard. Will I be able to slow down in the Netherlands? Or will I be a crazy tourist passing everyone else? Will I feel safe not wearing a helmet?
I can't wait to get my personal bike in Delft and check out all the different kinds of facilities for bikes and how they interact with other modes of transportation.
One of the main questions that I want to get answered on this trip is how did the Dutch get everyone in the country on board with this bike thing? Is there something in the attitude and mentality of the Dutch people that makes them more open to leaving their car at home? Is there some belief or attitude that we can take home and use to sell alternative transportation options to the American people?
Maybe America is just not flat enough.
I just want to find out how an entire country of relatively wealthy people chooses biking over their BMW's every day and how we can get the US to follow their lead.