In many European towns and cities, efforts are being made to make roads and thoroughfares more bicycle-friendly in an effort to entice citizens away from driving and toward riding. Unfortunately, space is frequently an issue. A solution from Switzerland may be able to alleviate the issue of the frequently congested space conditions for cycling lanes. URB-X, a Swiss startup, is building elevated bike paths, taking to the skies, so to speak.
The business is constructing two-lane cycling pathways on stilts so that they won't have to share space with vehicles or pedestrians. With their narrow pillars, these cycle highways—referred to by URB-X as "Bike Highways"—can be constructed over the current infrastructure with ease. In the Netherlands, where numerous cycling lanes span across streets, rivers, and the like on pillars, a similar strategy has been employed for quite some time now.
The best part is that with today's ever-evolving bike industry, a project like this would enable folks on all sorts of bikes—electric bikes and regular pedal bikes alike—to ride to their destinations without the fear of an inattentive driver running into them. Additionally, apart from their basic role as a bike highway, they also provide a number of supplementary benefits, ultimately making life easier for road users. The lanes may be heated, among other things, to keep snow and ice off of them even during the winter. Along with other features, the cycling route has lights and solar panels, transforming it into a solar power plant.
URB-X plans to start the Bike Highway project in Stuttgart, where the cycling populace is rather large and diverse. Naturally, a project of this magnitude will take a lot of planning, and will be rolled out in phases. A test track with a minimum length of one kilometer would be the first. The Bike Highway may be expanded, but at a price that would be fairly high. URB-X estimates that the expenses come to almost two million euros (approximately $2.14 million) per kilometer. For the supporting structure, there are an additional 300,000 to 500,000 euros ($322,000 to $536,000) per kilometer.
Nevertheless, the project is estimated to be more affordable than expanding asphalt roads to accommodate cyclists. Should URB-X's Bike Highway project takeoff in Germany, chances are this model could also be adopted in a similar fashion in other European cities where the culture of cycling is rapidly gaining popularity. This will surely serve as a big step for cities looking to accelerate the use of bicycles in the long run.