Sustainable Transportation Dialogue Courses to be Offered Online Summer 2020

While all on-site dialogue programs have been canceled in 2020, we will be offering CIVE 4566 and CIVE 4567 as on-line courses during Summer 2. The online format makes it possible for all students to take the courses, whether they applied for a Dialogue of Civilizations program or not; it also makes it possible for a student to take either one or two of the 4-credit classes that belong to this program.

Program and Course Descriptions

Program Intro: Why study Sustainable Transporation / Netherlands?

The Dutch are about as wealthy as Americans, but they drive only half as much — and at the same time, they ride bikes for more than 25% of their trips and enjoy world-class public transportation systems. Their traffic fatality rate is one-third of the American rate, nearly all middle school and high school students ride a bike to school, they are the only European country where obesity is not a growing health crisis, and their greenhouse gas contribution from transportation is, per capita, lower that any developed country. Oh, and — not unrelated — they also have the happiest children on the planet. There is a LOT we need to learn from them!

Learn how they design safe streets and ubiquitous bike paths, how they plan high-quality public transportation (trains, trams, buses), and how they plan cities to support ABC (all-but-car) transportation. We’ll visit great examples of Dutch urban planning and bikeway/street design, including visits with city officials, planners, and consultants in Delft, the Hague, Amsterdam, Utrecht, Haarlem, and other cities. You’ll take lots of photos, make lots of measurements, and write blog posts explaining Dutch planning and design practice; you’ll also do two design projects, applying what you’ve learned in Netherland to design great streets and spaces in the Boston area.

CIVE 4566. Design for Sustainable Transportation: Netherlands. 4 Hours.

Examines how the design of Dutch transportation infrastructure promotes travel by foot, bicycle, and public transportation as opposed to private automobile and how it promotes urban livability and traffic safety. Topics include bicycling infrastructure planning and design; Vision Zero traffic safety principles and design treatments for safe roads, intersections, and crossings; and high-quality transit service planning and design. Through design projects, offers students an opportunity to apply lessons learned to the U.S. context.

CIVE 4567. Planning and Policy for Sustainable Urban Transportation: Netherlands. 4 Hours.

Examines urban transportation planning practices and policies in the Netherlands that promote travel by bicycling, public transportation, and foot and help prevent urban mobility from degrading urban livability. Topics include land-use planning at the site, neighborhood, and regional scale; transit- and bicycle-oriented development, including both land-use and transportation infrastructure planning and policies for large-scale urban expansions; and traffic-circulation planning and policies to promote safety, prevent roads from becoming barriers to walking, cycling, or transit, and to create car-free and car-lite zones.

How will it work as an online class?

While we can’t take you to Holland, we’ll work hard to immerse you in Dutch transportation. We have lots of English-language videos explaining Dutch infrastructure and planning. In class and in assignments, you’ll “visit” a lot of sites using Google StreetView. We’ll teach you all about Dutch design practice and Dutch policy, including not just a static view (what they do now), but also what they’ve learned and how they’ve changed over the years. We’ll have Dutch guest speakers, just as we would if we were in Holland – the very best planners, engineers, and advocates who have a passion for explaining what their city is doing to promote sustainable transportation.

Our courses will also have a “local” field trip component. Around the US, one can find some good examples of sustainable transportation design and planning. We’ll work with you to identify visit-worthy sites close to where you live, and some of your assignments will relate to those local sites. You’ll need access to a car to visit your sites (unless you’re in a city, where transit / bike might suffice). We’ll also expect you to ride a bike for several trips. Again, we’ll work with you on choosing places to ride near you that are safe and instructive.

The two courses, CIVE 4566 and CIVE 4567, will be taught separately. Peter Furth will teach 4566; Jeff Rosenblum will teach CIVE 4567. Let me introduce Jeff – he’s an engineer who migrated from doing hydrology projects in the developing world to doing urban transportation in the U.S. He founded the Livable Streets Alliance (Boston’s premiere advocacy organization for sustainable transportation), worked for several years as a transportation planner for the City of Cambridge, and then returned to school and just completed a PhD in Urban Planning at MIT. He has been doing this dialogue with me for at least 6 years, and is very highly rated by all the students.

These courses will run from July 6 to August 14. The day-to-day scheduling is flexible; we’ll figure out what works best depending on what other courses students are taking and their demands.

For Civil Engineering majors, CIVE 4566 counts as a Technical Elective and CIVE 4567 as a General Elective. For most other majors, both courses count as General Electives, but you should consult your advisor if you think they might count for more.