Saddle up. Image: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
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Have you ever cycled through a lake or ridden a bike through tree tops 10 metres above the ground? For most cyclists, the answer is ‘no’, but that could be about to change.
The second Bicycle Architecture Biennale in Amsterdam features forward-thinking, creative and quirky infrastructure projects aimed at encouraging people to turn to peddle-power.
“By showcasing the most dynamic, visual solutions, the BAB inspires a new way of thinking about what cities of the future should look like,” Adam Stones of Amsterdam-based social enterprise Bycs, told Fast Company magazine. “And by showing what is possible, it will lead to many more creative solutions being implemented.”
Bycs is the organisation behind the biennale and aims to change people’s mindset so that half of urban trips are made on bicycles by 2030.
Here are some of the projects putting cycling at the heart of tomorrow’s cities.
1. The biggest bike parking lot in the world is in the Netherlands
Cycling has become a way of life in the Netherlands. In Utrecht, 43% of all trips are made by bike and the booming number of regular bikers need somewhere to park, which is both secure and convenient.
So the city has built the world’s biggest cycle parking lot, with space for 12,500 bikes, indoor ramps for easy access, and a digital system to direct riders to empty spaces. With additional parking areas, the city aims to boost capacity to 33,000 spaces by 2020.
2. Riders can cycle ‘through water’ in Belgium
A unique experience awaits visitors to Limburg in Belgium, where cyclists can ride ‘through water’ on a specially designed path that cuts through the ponds of Bokrijk.
The path, aptly named Cycling Through Water, is a three-metre-wide track with water at eye-level on both sides, allowing riders to accompany swans and other wild fowl as they glide across the lake.
3. Limburg has created a way of riding through the tree tops
In the same area, Limburg has designed a path that carries cyclists up into the air, on a tree-top loop that runs through dense forest canopy almost 10 metres above ground.
The path is part of a network of cycle routes spanning the scenic De Wijers region of the country, which encourages riders to connect with nature, quite literally.
4. Auckland has built a state-of-the-art skyway
Auckland is building a cycle skyway high above the city’s busy arterial roads, creating a safe way for residents to get into the city centre.
The first phase of the project has transformed an obsolete highway off-ramp into a bright pink, state-of-the-art elevated skyway, which traverses Auckland’s central motorway junction and connects with the city’s existing cycle network.
5. The world’s longest elevated cycleway is in China
Above Xiamen’s busy road network, the world’s longest elevated cycle path stretches 7.6 kilometres across the city. With capacity for 2,000 bikes during rush hour and rental points for those without their own bike, the new route should relieve congestion and encourage people into the saddle.
The cycle skyway is suspended under an elevated bus lane and links with the city’s public transport network at eleven exit points, including bus and subway transit hubs.
Cycling is a sustainable, emissions-free way to get around, which is good for the environment.
It’s also an easy way to get regular exercise and comes with lots of health benefits associated. Increased cardiovascular fitness reduces body fat and lowers the risk of heart attacks, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
UN figures predict global population growth to reach 9.8 billion by 2050, and more than two-thirds of those people are set to live in the world’s cities. Encouraging bike travel by building innovative cycle-friendly infrastructure into urban areas can only be a move in the right direction.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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