4 – Courtney B.

Hello! My name is Courtney, and I am a junior majoring in Environmental Studies and Sustainability. In my spare time, you can catch me singing, hiking, or doing basically anything that is outdoors. Growing up in Muskegon on the west coast of Michigan fostered my love for the Great Lakes and the environment. I enjoy learning new ways I can better treat these and other natural areas, and spreading that newfound knowledge to others.

I am passionate about composting, upcycled art, zero-waste initiatives, and even nutrition and how various diets have different environmental footprints. While in Australia, I hope to learn about sustainable agriculture techniques and their impacts. I am interested in the diverse approaches to sustainability in Australia, how those approaches work, and how the general public can get involved to make a big and lasting difference.

Australia is highly urbanized and about 64% of its population lives in capital cities (Population, n.d.). A great way for cities and their surrounding areas to help become more sustainable is by reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Cities can accomplish this is by encouraging more sustainable forms of transportation, such as public transportation, bicycling, and walking. This can be done by creating affordable and easy to access public transportation systems that operate often, building more safe sidewalks and bicycle routes, making bicycles easier to access, and many more. In Australia, I will be researching how cities are adapting to become more sustainable. More specifically, I will be focusing on the ways that cities and public venues encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transportation. I will then compare these to Michigan State University.

Adelaide, a city we visited in Australia, has been working to make their public transport system more inclusive and affordable. They adopted a flat fare public transport system where everyone pays the same fare no matter how many kilometers they travel (Hogan-Turner, 2016). This flat fare makes it more affordable for those who live farther away from the city and have a lower average income to travel into the city for work, school, or other activities (Hogan-Turner, 2016). In Adelaide, people can also hire bikes for free at one of the Adelaide Free Bikes locations. This can be utilized by anyone, whether they live in the city or are just visiting. All that is needed to hire a bike is a passport, valid driver’s license, or a proof of age card; the person leaves the ID at the point of hire and gets it back when they return the bike (Adelaide Free, n.d.). The city also offers printed and online materials that connect people with websites to help choose the best bike route depending on the rider, another one to help find bike racks and showers, and finally a website with material to help riders enhance their bicycling skills (Smarter, n.d.).

Michigan State University (MSU) on the other hand is also making efforts to encourage public transportation, bicycling, and walking. This past academic year, the university updated their contract with the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) to implement a one-year trial of free on campus bus service (Guerrant, 2018). This included routes 30 through 39, some of those running on the weekends, and encouraged students to use the bus system instead of driving around campus. The university also boasts bike lanes on over half of campus’s roads and over 20,000 parking spaces for bicycles (Getting, n.d.). The campus also has the ASMSU Bike Share Program for on-campus students who do not personally own a bike. Through this program, students can rent bikes for free, all the student has to do is sign a waiver, head to one of the 5 halls that have the bikes, and sign one out for up to a 7-hour period (ASMSU, 2017). Those who live off campus can pay for bike rentals from MSU Bikes ranging from $20 same day to $175 for the academic year, or they can purchase new or used bikes at the MSU Surplus Store on the southern part of campus (MSU, n.d.). Campus is also easily walkable with many pedestrian crossings, beautiful scenery, and an extensive network of sidewalks and walking trails.

While abroad, I found that each of the three capital cities we visited, Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney, are actively working to encourage more sustainable forms of transportation. Each city has many forms of transportation. Melbourne and Adelaide have trains, trams, and buses, and are bike and pedestrian friendly, and Sydney has trains, the light rail, buses, and ferries, and is also bike and pedestrian friendly.

In Australia, I found that the public transportation was affordable, relatively easy to use, and smooth. The buses, trains, light rail, and trams I road on were clean and utilized by people of all backgrounds that had different travel purposes, such as commuting to work, tourism, and more. Adelaide has a free zone in its city center where people can ride the trams around the city for free. Sydney has the Opal card that people can get and use it to pay for public transportation whether it be by bus, light rail, train, or ferry. All people have to do is tap the card on a designated scanner each time they get on and off of one of the systems, and the scanner tells the person their balance and how much their trip cost. My trips ranged from $2.20 to $3.66 in Australian currency, but the most adults have to pay in a day is $15.80 no matter how far they travel. Money can also be easily added to the card either online or at one of the top up locations by the stations. These all help to encourage public transportation use by making it easy to use and affordable.

When it comes to encouraging biking and walking, each city has bicycle and pedestrian paths and countless aesthetically pleasing sites to look at. I also noticed that all three of the cities have numerous pedestrian crossings, accessible toilets, and water fountains. Melbourne and Adelaide have bike shares, while Sydney is looking into getting one (City of Sydney, 2017, p. 52). Melbourne’s bike share is $3 in Australian currency for a day pass or $8 for a weekly pass, and they both include 24-hour bike access and unlimited trips of up to 45 minutes. Adelaide’s is free, but the rentals are limited to the hours of the location the bikes are rented from and each location has different hours (Adelaide Free, n.d.). These encourage biking by making bikes more accessible to people at an affordable price. Adelaide also has scramble crossing, which is where all cars are stopped at an intersection and people can cross to any side. This makes crossing the busy city intersections safer and quicker. Sydney has helpful signs around the city to show people where they are and where the different forms of transit in a 15 minute walk radius are. Lastly, each city has many green spaces, beautiful architecture, and other sites, such as fountains and statues, that all encourage biking and walking and make it more enjoyable.

Each city’s current forms of sustainable transportation and future plans for the improvement and encouragement of them are updated and laid out in action plans. Melbourne has its 2016-2020 Bicycle Plan, Adelaide has its 2012-2022 Smart Move Strategy, and Sydney has its 2016-2021 Environmental Action Plan. I found that Sydney and Adelaide are working through their action plans to better encourage more sustainable forms of transportation to help achieve their greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, while Melbourne is more focused on reducing traffic congestion and noise pollution with lower emissions acting more as a bonus (Adelaide City, 2016; City of Melbourne, n.d., p. 2; City of Sydney, 2017).

To conclude my research, I found that all three of the major Australian cities we visited are making huge strides to improve and encourage more sustainable forms of transportation to not only better their cities, but to help ensure a better future, minimizing their greenhouse gas emissions.

Related Links


Adelaide City Council. (2016). Smart move strategy 2012-2022: Interim action plan 2016-2018. Retrieved from https://www.cityofadelaide.com.au/assets/Policies-Papers/docs/ACTION-PLAN-smartmoveinterim-2016-18.pdf

Adelaide Free Bikes Information. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bikesa.asn.au/adelaidefreebikesinfo

ASMSU Bike Share Program. (2017). Retrieved from https://asmsu.msu.edu/services/bike-share/

City of Melbourne. (n.d.). Bicycle plan 2016-2020. Retrieved from https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/city-of-melbourne-bicycle-plan-2016-2020.pdf

City of Sydney. (2017, March). Environmental action 2016-2021: Strategy and action plan. Retrieved from https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/284749/Environmental-Action-strategy-and-action-plan.pdf

Getting Around. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://admissions.msu.edu/life-at-msu/getting-around.aspx

Guerrant, E. (2018, July 18). Free on-campus bus service for students starts fall semester. Retrieved from https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2018/free-on-campus-bus-service-for-students-starts-fall-semester/

Hogan-Turner, R. (2016, March 1). Why adelaide just might have the best public transport system in australia. Retrieved from https://junkee.com/why-adelaide-just-might-have-the-best-public-transport-system-in-australia/74209

MSU Bikes Rentals. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://msusurplusstore.com/catalog/msu-bikes/rentals/

Population Distribution. (n.d.). Retrieved May 7, 2019, from https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/1370.0~2010~Chapter~Population%20distribution%20(3.3)

Smarter Travel. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.cityofadelaide.com.au/assets/documents/FACTSHEET_Smarter_Travel_WEB.pdf

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