2012-10-25

Co.Exist

Heated Bike Lanes Could Save Cyclists In The Winter

Biking on ice is… suboptimal. What if bike lanes could be warmed from beneath to keep them safe and clear? They’re trying it right now--where else?--in the Netherlands.

There’s a reason why you see more cyclists on the road when the sun is out: Biking in rain or and snow can be unpleasant, not to mention dangerous. In bike-crazy European cities like Copenhagen and Amsterdam, few people let the weather get them down, even when it drops to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a double-edged sword--it means fewer cars on the road, but it also means more accidents (when bike lanes are frozen over, there are 7,000 more accidents a month in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch Cyclists Union).

The BBC reports that cyclists in a handful of Netherlands towns--in the province of Utrecht and the town of Zutphen--may get a reprieve from bitterly cold winters. A project proposed by the Tauw engineering consultancy would see geothermal energy-powered systems installed below bike lanes to keep ice from forming (and causing cyclists to crash).

Marcel Boerefijn, an engineer from Tauw, told AFP that the scheme would lessen the need to put down salt on bike paths and lower medical expenses from accidents. But at up to $51,780 to heat just over half a mile, the system isn’t exactly cheap. Nonetheless, Zutphen and Utrecht are both considering it. Zutphen is reportedly waiting for results from a preliminary study, set to be available early next year, before continuing with next steps.

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