Quantcast

Germany's Superhighway for Bikes Could Take 50,000 Cars Off the Road Every Day

Business

By Liz Dwyer

To reduce air pollution and traffic congestion, cities around the world are booting cars off roads and encouraging people to bike to work or school. It's a great suggestion—until terrified bikers find themselves riding on a street with only a stripe painted on the pavement to separate them from cars and trucks. Showing up to work a sweaty mess after cycling a long distance on a hodgepodge of inconvenient, congested side roads doesn't have much appeal either.

Germany, the country that invented the modern highway for motor vehicles, is taking on the challenge of keeping bikers safe and enabling them to easily commute long distances. It opened a three-mile-long leg of the Radschnellweg, a new autobahn for bikes, just before the New Year.

Instead of forcing riders to avoid swerving vehicles on a busy street, the Radschnellweg is a dedicated multi-lane highway for two-wheeled transport. The bike lanes are about 13 feet wide, are lit at night, and, like a road for cars, will be plowed during winter to remove snow.

Martin Toennes, a representative of the regional development group RVR, said nearly 2 million people live within about one mile of the road, The Local reported. A study from RVR found that the bike highway could result in 50,000 fewer cars per day on roads in the region. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the exhaust pipe of one passenger vehicle pumps about 4.7 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so the reduction in Germany could make a significant dent in greenhouse gas emissions.

The thoroughfare, which primarily runs along decommissioned train tracks, is supposed to expand to 62 miles in length and connect 10 cities and four universities throughout the Ruhr district in northwest Germany.

The expansion isn't without its problems. In Germany, building and maintaining bike routes has traditionally been the domain of local governments. That means that figuring out who will cough up the nearly $200 million needed to fund the expansion of the highway has become a political hot potato.

For this first section of the bike autobahn, the EU picked up half the tab. The German government and the RVR split the other half. "Without [state] support, the project would have no chance," Toennes said. As a result, some politicians have floated the idea of paying for the roadway with something motor vehicle drivers are all too familiar with: billboard advertising.

This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Feds Sue Volkswagen in Diesel Emissions Scandal

10 Coolest Eco Products of 2015

How to Build Your Own Bike Camper for Only $150

Elon Musk Signs Open Letter Proposing Radical Fix to VW's Emission Scandal

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter


Jose A. Bernat Bacete / Moment / Getty Images

By Bridget Shirvell

On a farm in upstate New York, a cheese brand is turning millions of pounds of food scraps into electricity needed to power its on-site businesses. Founded by eight families, each with their own dairy farms, Craigs Creamery doesn't just produce various types of cheddar, mozzarella, Swiss and Muenster cheeses, sold in chunks, slices, shreds and snack bars; they're also committed to becoming a zero-waste operation.

Read More Show Less
Coal ash has contaminated the Vermilion River in Illinois. Eco-Justice Collaborative / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Jessica A. Knoblauch

Summers in the Midwest are great for outdoor activities like growing your garden or cooling off in one of the area's many lakes and streams. But some waters aren't as clean as they should be.

That's in part because coal companies have long buried toxic waste known as coal ash near many of the Midwest's iconic waterways, including Lake Michigan. Though coal ash dumps can leak harmful chemicals like arsenic and cadmium into nearby waters, regulators have done little to address these toxic sites. As a result, the Midwest is now littered with coal ash dumps, with Illinois containing the most leaking sites in the country.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

picture-alliance / AP Photo / NOAA Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center

The Group of 20 major economies agreed a deal to reduce marine pollution at a meeting of their environment ministers on Sunday in Karuizawa, Japan.

Read More Show Less
Pope Francis holds his General Weekly Audience in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 29, 2018 in Vatican City, Vatican. Giulio Origlia / Getty Images

Pope Francis declared a climate emergency Friday as he met with oil industry executives and some of their biggest investors to urge them to act on the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less
A vegetarian bowl with quinoa fritters. Westend61 / Getty Images

By Ketura Persellin

You've likely heard that eating meat and poultry isn't good for your health or the planet. Recent news from Washington may make meat even less palatable: Pork inspections may be taken over by the industry itself, if a Trump administration proposal goes into effect, putting tests for deadly pathogens into the hands of the industry.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Florida's Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier, where the record-breaking beach cleanup took place Saturday. Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

More than 600 people gathered on a Florida beach Saturday to break the world record for the largest underwater cleanup of ocean litter.

Read More Show Less
Juvenile hatchery salmon flushed from a tanker truck in San Francisco Bay, California. Ben Moon

That salmon sitting in your neighborhood grocery store's fish counter won't look the same to you after watching Artifishal, a new film from Patagonia.

Read More Show Less
Natdanai Pankong / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Lauren Panoff, MPH, RD

Coconut meat is the white flesh inside a coconut.

Read More Show Less