Sunday, July 1, 2012

PSU Students in Delft 2012 - Welcome

A few scenes from the first few days or orienting students in Delft.        
Sunday before the students were awake, Rob Bertini gave me a tour of one of his normal trips through Den Haag to visit the Peace Palace. It was a nice trip to knock some of the jet lag cobwebs out of my head. Den Haag is slightly more bike friendly than Rotterdam, but the mix of facilities is a contrast to some of the newer communities. In the case of the Dutch, my opinion is that some of the suburbs have better cycling accommodation than the inner city. The picture at the right shows Rob in a bike lane (fairly rare and not often built with today's standards) with a bus rapidly approaching on the right.

The student orientation included a visit to the campus and the Sportscenter in the south of TU Delft's main park area. The students were oriented to their bikes and getting used to the coaster brakes and single speed. The bikes we have are refurbished bikes from Brikfiets which is an outfit similar to Goodwill in the U.S. We effectively rent the bikes by buying them and selling them back at the end of the visit.

I had to take a picture of the Sportscenter with its "CULTURE" announcement at the entry. It was a nice opportunity to explain that there are times when the Dutch are very good at stating the obvious. Someone commented that it was a little bit Soviet in the style and that lead to a quick discussion about how there are elements of the society that seek a balance between rampant land use speculation and effective land use planning and development that has served the Netherlands very well. Clearly, the need for planning of water with the country under sea level is apparent most directions that you turn. You can see that this building has an elevated space with a garage on the ground floor (mostly for people and their bicycles).

Peter Furth offered insights on the TU Delft planning over time and how in the 1960s, the Dutch thought that the automobile was the future and when he was on sabbatical nearly 20 years ago here, he could drive to campus and parking within 100 meters of his office at 9:30 AM. Today, with selective removal of parking on campus (primarily on the main parklike area), it is a longer walk. Rob Bertini added that it still remains free to park on campus, (costs nothing), but the cycling is so carefree that it is a dominant mode even with the main Delft train station a 20-minute walk away. Peter Furth commented  that many of the students and staff have their second bike at the main train station and use that if they are commuting from longer distances. The Dutch have also been implementing Bicycle Highways which I am excited to cover as a part of this trip.

This says a lot about the transformation that the campus has taken, but this isn't unique to the TU Delft, it is national policy that has lead the Dutch to the transformation or return to the pre automobile expansion area levels.

My last picture for this post is Tommy, Rob, and Jake enjoying making light of the situation at the hostel.
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