From Germany to France, back to Germany, and then back to France

Here is my vlog detailing our day through the wonderful city of Strasbourg, France. We started by visiting city officials, then went between France and Germany, and then finally toured the EU Parliament. Just click the link to see all the excitement!

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Walkability Day 1 (6/7/18)

By Comfort Reed

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Click to Watch the Vlog!

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Walkability Day 2 in Riva San Vitale (June 8th, 2018)

June 8th, 2018 Vlog by Michael Bannon in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland at the Steger Center for International Scholarship

Click on the link under the photo to check it out! 😀

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Karlsruhe – The birthplace of the bike (6/13/2018)

On our third day in Freiburg, Germany, we took a day trip via train to Karlsruhe, Germany. Stepping out of the station, the contrast between the two cities was stark. There was noise from construction happening all around the train station. It turns out construction had been going on for several years, to improve the public transport.

We took a walking tour of the city, to take a closer look at their public transportation system. In the 1970s, Karlsruhe was a city designed for cars. It wasn’t a pedestrian friendly city until 1990 when the trams were reconstructed, as a part of an environmental initiative. There was a lot of debate surrounding the introduction of the trams and connecting trams to the regional rail network (called the Karlsruhe Model), particularly concerning the various overhead wire voltage and wheel size of different trams. These were concerns I hadn’t considered before when riding the tram lines.

Earlier in the trip we learned that three key factors make public transportation appealing are: providing convenient access, cheap tickets, and frequent trips. By connecting the tram networks as well as increasing the frequency of the trams, passengers on Karlsruhe’s public transportation system have significantly increased. A pass for all public transportation in Karlsruhe is 76 euros per month. This may sound high, until you factor in monthly costs of gas and maintenance for a car.

It was hard to enjoy much of Karlsruhe because of the construction. We learned their plan to build a new tramway station underground. While these constructions were necessary to improve the quality of the city in the long run, experiencing the transition period was not great. Later in the day we saw more appealing areas of the city such as the university, their parliament, and a huge green space near the city. Seeing these areas made me wonder what a city might be able to do to improve the period of construction in their city center. Setting up markets in other areas of the city such as some of the parks we walked through could lead crowds away from the noise and chaos of the construction.

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We learned the Karlsruhe was the birthplace of the bike. Karl Freidrich von Drais, born in Karlsruhe in 1785, first coined his invention the “hobby horse” in 1817. The first model was made of wood and was ridden by essentially walking your feet on either side of the bike – pedals came along later. I loved thinking about how this invention has changed the way that humans can travel within urban settings and how the bicycle has evolved over the last few centuries. If asked before our trip to Karlsruhe I would have guessed that the bicycle was a much older invention than only a few hundred years.

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After lunch at the University, we had a lecture on public transportation in the city of Karlsruhe. We talked about a multimodal model – where various forms of transportation are used within an urban area. While mobility is necessary for every day activities, car driving is not always a positive form of transportation. To name a few negative effects – crowding and traffic, CO2 emissions, and noise pollution.

We talked about various push and pull measures that city planners can implement to increase public transportation. Pull measure make public transportation, biking, and walking more appealing, while push measures make car driving less appealing. An example of a pull measure would be giving a free tram ticket along with the purchase of a ticket to a sporting event within the city. An example of a push measure would be making car free streets or reducing parking within the city (I’m looking at your Virginia Tech parking.)

Ultimately, they found very restrictive policies on car use would not work in encouraging public transport. The people must be allowed to decide for themselves.

We walked through the more scenic gardens of the city, geeked out over a no waste store near the train station, stopped for ice cream, then boarded our train back to our beloved Frieburg.

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– Nicole Ferley

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Freiburg Fun (06.11.18)

By Maja Gabrielson
Click the picture to watch the vlog!

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Freiburg Hike & Sustainability Tour (6/12/18)

By Tess Williams

June 12th, 2018

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Today after breakfast, we met in the lobby at 9am so we could leave for the Schlossberg hike as a group. We took the tram to the city center where we walked to the hike that was located on the outskirts of the Black Forest. During the hike, we learned that Freiburg translates to “free town”, because in the past peasants found freedom from their oppressive leaders in the city. The hill that we hiked on housed a castle before it was destroyed in 1745. There were only minimal remnants of the castle.

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The goal of the hike was to make it to the tower that overlooks the city and has a beautiful view of the Black Forest. The tower was built to commemorate the castle’s old tower, and to serve as a way to view the whole city. It was entirely funded by citizens of the town paying for the naming rights of the individual steps.

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After lunch, we met with a sustainability expert named Astrid Mayer, who is the Director of Freiburg Future Lab, which deals with sustainable development. We met at the SC Freiburg stadium which is the first zero emission soccer stadium in Europe. Its energy comes from solar panels and wind mills financed by cooperatives. This is when multiple people pool their money together to finance a project, in this case, alternative energy. The majority of the people in the cooperative were fans of the soccer team. They were motivated to do this because in turn they received priority and reduced season ticket prices. Extra energy made by the solar panels, especially during the off season, goes back into the energy grid.
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After touring the stadium, we walked along a river located behind it. There’s a wall along the river the acts as a lock to block the water. 70% of the water goes into the turbine of the power plant and the other 30% allows the fish to swim through, which is called a “fish latter”. The water from this river comes down directly from the Black Forest. To get to the river we had to cross a path that is specifically for bicyclists which was called a “bike highway” and doesn’t allow pedestrians or have any traffic signals that would slow down bikers.

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Continuing on our tour, we took the tram to the train station near the city center and saw a protected bike garage that stores bikes for $1 per day. It also has cheaper annual passes available, which is great for commuters to store their bikes while they take the train into work. We learned that it is so safe that many people don’t even lock their bikes

 

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We walked across the blue bridge that connects the two parts of the town opposite of the train tracks. The bridge was originally built for trams then adapted to be used by cars. It was only recently that it changed again, this time geared only to bicyclists and pedestrians.

 

 

Next, we walked to the University of Freiburg where we got to walk through their library. The library was built with a focus on sustainability and doesn’t need heating because ~2000 people are always in it which helps keeps it heated with the insulation. The building is kept cold through pipes in the floor that are filled with ground water that’s 12 degrees Celsius. The dark outer wall of the library has a coating that reflects 94% of the heat so the building doesn’t overheat in the sun.

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After the university, we walked through the downtown area and saw the Munster Cathedral which is one of the only buildings to survive the bombings during WWII. The cathedral had an intricate interior with stained glass windows and hundreds of small candles lit. After leaving the cathedral, Astrid talked about how the majority of the old town was rebuilt after the bombings to honor its previous roads and architecture. She finished our tour by stating that “it took 20 minutes to destroy a city that was 800 years old.” The good that came from this was that planners were able to rebuild the city in a way that promoted sustainability and active transportation, which enables its public to be healthier and happier citizens.

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Quick Stop in Vienna

Click the image to view a video of our day!

33 Beautiful Vienna Wallpapers In HD For Free Download

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