Feb 06, 2015

When Portland State University student Marisa DeMull signed up for the summer 2014 study abroad course in the Netherlands, she wasn't necessarily looking for a new major. A civil engineering student, DeMull thought the summer program just sounded like a great way to get course credit.

DeMull learned that she could get six credits for the two-week program and applied immediately, a week from the deadline.

“I tried spreading the word. It’s the best program, and so few people really know about it, which is unfortunate,” DeMull said.

After two weeks in Delft and a series of lectures, bike tours, and eye-opening conversations, the PSU senior returned home to Portland State and declared a change in her program of study: she would now focus on transportation, a sub-field within civil engineering.

"Until this trip, I didn't really know that was a career choice," DeMull said. "I love riding bikes, but to design bike routes for a living? I met all these engineers who are completely devoted to bicycles, who just live and breathe it."

Practitioners give daily lectures to the students in the course, and...

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Oct 22, 2013

Most people in transportation circles have heard all about the Netherlands as a bicyclist’s mecca, a place where thirty-five percent of the population regularly commutes by bike. What may be less commonly known is how recent this achievement is.

In 1967, bicycling in the Netherlands was “tantamount to attempting suicide,” according to Amsterdam’s chief inspector of traffic police.

Today, the Netherlands is the safest place in the world to operate a bicycle, based on injury and fatality rates per miles traveled. In less than fifty years, their bicycle safety rates have soared and the Dutch have built a bicycle infrastructure that is the envy of the rest of the world. How did they do it? 

Could Americans possibly do the same?

That’s what Portland State University transportation students aim to find out.

When PSU student Kirk Paulsen signed up to spend two weeks in the Netherlands as part of the first PSU civil engineering study abroad program, he wasn’t sure what exactly he might get out of it, but knew that he wanted to see famed Dutch bicycling facilities for himself. Paulsen was one of seven transportation students in the pilot class of 2011, and now has this to say about the experience:

“This short study abroad course is by far your best opportunity while enrolled at PSU to observe real world...

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