The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Texas A&M students, teachers and staff no longer have to worry about cycling the campus' busy Bizzell and Ross intersection at night thanks to an innovative glow-in-the-dark bike lane.
The university boasts that the lane is the nation's first "non-signalized, Dutch-style intersection ... [that] includes bright green solar luminescent pavement markings used to delineate the bicycle pathways."
The project was inspired by similar glowing bike paths in the Netherlands, such as the "Starry Night" bike lane.
Texas A&M's bike lane glows due to a solar luminescent paint. It soaks up the sun's rays during the day and emits light when it gets dark. The lane is also the nation's first to receive the Federal Highway Administration's approval for the green coating it used.
Texas A&M's Transportation Services and Texas A&M Transportation Institute completed construction in October.
According to Fast Company, "the university is now carefully studying how people use it, surveying the community about whether they feel safer, and considering whether to replicate the design in other parts of the campus."
A student rides the Dutch-style protected junction.Texas A&M
The particular intersection was chosen as thousands of students navigate the crossing during the school week.
"We are excited to bring this kind of innovation and technology to the Texas A&M campus," said Peter Lange, the associate vice president of Transportation Services. "We are confident the protected intersection will provide an added level of safety for bicyclists and drivers traveling in this area on campus."
Another unique factor about the crossing is that it's the first in the U.S. to operate without a traffic light, relying only on stop signs instead. This so-called "Dutch Junction" is specifically designed to help cyclists get across the street and protect them from vehicles and pedestrians.
"The key to its design is the islands at the intersection corners which separate cars and cyclists turning right; they also move cyclists traveling straight into the view of automobiles and away from their blind spot," the university said.
"The marriage of the Dutch Junction design and explicit delineation of the bike lanes, with advanced materials that are highly visible both day and night, embody the concept behind the technology initiative—to enhance the safety and mobility options across the Texas A&M University campus," said Robert Brydia, a senior research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. "This is the first of many implementations and technology demonstrations planned over the next year."
This is not your average bike path. Instead of one long continuous road, the RiverRide consists of steel-reinforced concrete pontoon segments developed by Marinetek, an international company that builds floating structures. Like Legos, the floating segments can be daisy chained together or taken apart if reconfiguration is necessary.
Chuck said that each segment would measure 82 feet long and 6-12 feet wide. The proposed car-free trail will float on the Chicago River between Horner and Ping Tom Parks.
As DNAinfo Chicago noted, the idea of a floating walkway is not new—cities like Portland and Philadelphia already have their own floating paths that allow folks to get from A to B over bodies of water. However, what makes the RiverRide special is that Windy City bikers would be able navigate the Chicago River at night and even when it snows.
The RiverRide design incorporates solar panels above each floating segment to provide light even after the sun sets. Additionally, precipitation-activated awnings and an embedded heating conduit will prevent icing and snow build-up.
Chuck said that it would cost approximately $5 million to $10 million per mile of floating trail, which could come from public or private funding. He is reportedly working to gain support for RiverRide pilot segments, and if approved, they could be installed by summer 2018.
According to DNAinfo Chicago, some Transportation Action Committee members questioned some aspects of the proposal, such as the awning and the segments' narrow width. But in some good news for the company, 33rd Ward alderman Deb Mell tweeted a link to the DNAinfo story and wrote that she hopes to pilot the bike trail in her ward.