It feels very strange to be back in Atlanta, and not even because of the 40 degree temperature change. I came back here and I was struck with the same dilemma many ATLiens have that don’t have a car. I didn’t know how to get around. I was hesitant to use uber to get around a gain. Even from the airport, it was strange not having a frequent, streamlined process to go to and from the the MARTA station.


The main difference between transit design here compared to the Netherlands is the prioritization of infrastructure. The US, especially Atlanta has made car, “King” and with that title comes aerial crowns in the form of highways. They tie up the city like ivy, suffocating any chance for those without vehicles a chance to breathe in the cityscape. Lately, I’ve been thinking about turning highways into bike lanes and designing bridges over the 285 for pedestrian and cycle use.

The Dutch will bike a 2,5 kilometers but will not bike super long distances. This is encouraged to then ride their bicycles to a train stations. Their design also differs from ours because of the natural boundaries they have that inhibit growth, like rivers and canals. Because Atlanta has no natural boundaries we are free to sprawl and not put much vision in our design practices to foster things like urban density since to the American mind there is much more land to be developed in the horizon.

Our design codes such as the AASHTO are more stringent. For example, we saw a beautiful roundabout with art in the middle of it. We found out from our mentors to our dismay that this design would never be allowed in the states do to code regulations. Also, as design is more collaborative in the Netherlands, design here is broken up by jurisdictions of federal state and local powers. For example, roads in Atlanta are governed and maintained by different entities who have different outcomes for their projects unlike they do in the Netherlands.


Has a positive feedback loop of design influencing culture and culture influencing design. The Dutch are a very punctual and practical people. They’re time is just as important as their children, to be guarded at all costs. With these two things in mind, the infrastructure has been designed to be as safe and accessible as possible with minimal parental supervision, and as functional and practical as possible to make sure that time is not being wasted in traffic jams. Another quality that the Dutch prioritize is independence. Riding a bike or the train does not require an access age. Children and teens can take the train or ride their bike whenever they choose, although children must past Bikes and rail are perfect tools for designing a streamlined infrastructure that ensures safety and punctuality while maintaining the user’s independence.


About Ambar

Ambar is a 20 something attending the Georgia Institute of Technology where she studies history, sociology, and civil engineering. Hesitant to call herself a writer or poet, she refers to herself as a “surveyor of words.” She wears navy socks and black loafers fearlessly.
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