When I left to study urban planning through the lens of the bicycle at the University of Amsterdam, I had no idea what was in store for me. I came to learn what made Amsterdam the biking Mecca that it is today. I wanted to know why people ride their bikes everywhere, what benefits that produces for the community and how I can bring some of these lessons back home with me, to Pittsburgh.
If you’ve ever visited Amsterdam, then you already know, the bike is king. Within the city, About ½ of daily transportational trips are made by bicycle. The bicycle is an affordable and reliable way to get around. This paired with the health benefits of cycling makes the bike an obvious choice for everyday commuting.
Dutch cycling culture is so strong that you can’t help but to feel left out while taking in the city on foot. My program rented bicycles for us to use throughout our time in Amsterdam. My bike quickly became an extension of myself and my favorite way to get around and connect with the city.
Cycling is so much more than a mode of transportation. Cycling allows us to interact with each other and our environment far more than taking the car does. I was surprised to see people creating these social connections on the bike. It was very common to see people riding side by side in conversation or even holding hands while riding through the park.
Over this month, I was able to learn so much both inside and outside of the classroom. At the end of the day, my biggest take away was the need to design trails and connections with people at the forefront of focus. Human centered design helps to transform communities by bringing the focus back to the people. People thrive in spaces that are prioritized for them.
I’m looking forward to coming home and focusing on all of the new developments taking place along the Three Rivers Heritage Trail. I am so excited that I have the opportunity to build community connections at home, creating a more liveable, human centered Pittsburgh.
– Katie Craig, our wonderful Trail Development Coordinator