Week 4 – Metz by Bike

This past week was another busy one for the SLS program at GTL. We spent some time with a representative of Mortris doing some cool composting, got to visit a workshop for bikes held at Metz à Vélo and also got an inside look at traffic management in Metz at the circulation office.

We started off with a visit to an event called Épluchures et Bicyclette in which the other students, Dr. Kozhanova, and I rode bikes with a volunteer from Motris, an organization dedicated to improving the state of society (greener, more accepting, more creative), named Olivier Rudez around Metz gathering food waste for composting from a couple different restaurants, bars, and a tea shop. We started at the office of Metz à Vélo to borrow some bikes, then set off on our mission. It was an amazing experience, being able to ride alongside the drivers on the road, who were all very considerate of our entourage, and wave at people sitting outside of the cafés. Each time we walked into the restaurant or bar, we just had to mention “Épluchures and Bicyclette”, and someone would run to the back in order to get their food wastes for us. They always smiled and thanked us for our efforts, but it didn’t feel like we were doing much work. We would dump things like potato peelings, squeezed lemons, and old coffee grounds into containers and then weight them in order to document how much we were adding in total to the composting at Motris. I’m looking forward to doing it again in the next coming weeks, as long as the weather holds up. I think that this has been my favorite composting activity yet!

The next day, we visited Metz à Vélo again, this time to see one of the workshops in action. Metz à Vélo is an organization that aims to shift the focus of transportation away from vehicles and instead to bikes for the good of the environment and potentially economic advantages. At the workshops, the volunteers will repair and tune up bikes for people that use them exclusively to get around, like to work or to school. One of the volunteers talked with us about the different events they host, like a “Bike School” for children to instill the idea in them that bikes should be their preferred method of transport and to keep them active. The vice president, François Baudry, was also informative and very eager for us to help him spread the word, for us to engage in the events going on around Metz à Vélo, and for us to potentially help make biking safer for people on larger roadways.

For our last adventure of the week, we visited the office of Direction of Traffic of Public Spaces and sat through a presentation by Dominique Loesch in which he walked us through the traffic/circulation challenges in Metz. He discussed the challenges with congestion in the city created by the intersections in Metz (there are 92!) and the solutions that Metz was putting in to place in order to alleviate some of it, like their traffic monitoring system Gertrude (a one-of-a-kind system in Metz) and the buses called Mettis. He talked about the importance of public transportation and often mentioned Strasbourg, France as a good example of effective implementation of public transport (with the trams). In my experience so far, getting around Metz has been extremely easy. The dorm where all of the techies stay is about an hour walk away from the city center, but its cut down to around 25 minutes by bus. There are multiple routes and times that the buses come and go with an app that helps you navigate them, and people use the buses all the time. If Metz is this good, I can only imagine was Strasbourg public transport is like. I think it would be a great idea for Atlanta to start looking to some European cities for examples of how to improve their public transportation. It’s a sprawling city, and its constituents could really use a way to get around besides using a car (traffic is a hug problem in Atlanta!).

As each of my weeks come to a close, I enjoy reflecting on the efforts that people are making in order to facilitate a greener, more sustainable city/life. I hope that one of the journeys our program takes this semester will inspire you to try it out.

Before I go, I just want to share my weekly picture from my travels, reminding you and me why it’s important that we aim to live sustainably and responsibly. Pictured below, the bay next to Èze, France, a small medieval town in between Nice and Monaco, Monte-Carlo. Thank you for reading through another one of my installments. À tout à l’heure!