First Days in de Nederlands

Well, I’m sorry to announce this via blog, but I’m probably not coming home. The Netherlands is beautiful and everyone bikes! Biking is so pervasive here that there are panniers sold in almost every store. Since there are no London Drugs here (horror!) I’ve found my new favourite everything store called “HEMA”. They even have a cafeteria AND a take out window.

An image of three bags.

My version of packing light.

For the first night, I stayed in den Haag (the Hague) at a hostel called KingKool. I immediately met someone who went to my high school and graduated with my sister. I also had some time to explore the old city including  Binnenhof. These buildings are from the 13th century, but the bikes sailing through small arched doorways and what must be some excellent conservation work made it feel very new. There was an even a beautiful gold fountain. It looked like it had just been built.

After the first night, I successfully navigated to Rijswijk, halfway between deen Haag and Delft where our dorms are located. They are in an old office building that has been (is still being converted?) into dorms. All the rooms are furnished with IKEA. High-end IKEA. Unfortunately, they forgot to continue that through the rest of the building. Hopefully by the time the year-round students get here, things will be a bit better. The school year starts in the next month, apparently!

Medieval courtyard with church and foundation

Courtyard of Biennenhof

As part of the program requirements, I need to write a little about myself. So, you can probably skip this part if you already know me, but if you’re new to the blog it could be helpful.

I am a transportation-focused planning student, specifically active transportation, currently working on my Master of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. I was born in Saskatoon, grew up on Vancouver Island and have spent the last seven years living in Vancouver. I did my undergrad in human geography at the University of Victoria. I love cats. A lot.

I’m interested in this course (Sustainable Transportation in the Netherlands: Pedestrian, Bicycle, Public Transport) for two reasons. One, because I wanted to see what cycling infrastructure looks like in a cycling culture. Two, everyone who visits de Nederlands tells me I have to see it and I’d love it. What can I say, I’m susceptible to peer pressure.

After doing the readings, I have two goals for myself. First, Amsterdam is moving away from all-mode streets to a “Plus net” system which will change streets to be focused on only two modes of transport at the most, based on large-scale network plans for each mode. In Vancouver and the rest of North America, we are moving to Complete Streets policies. I want to find out if this step is necessary. Do we need to move through a Complete Streets phase to get to the mode share of the Nederlands?

Second, I would like to find out what didn’t work well in de Nederlands. Even planning as successful as this must have had some missteps. What are the missteps in infrastructure building and community consultation that hasn’t been documented. Hopefully, this will be informative for my future practice. 


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