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The longest aerial bike path in the world opened late January for a trial run in the Xiamen province of China. The concept for this path was designed about eight years ago by middle school students in the annual Xiamen City Youth Science and Technology Innovation Competition.

The aerial bike path offers an alternative travel option in the city to reduce traffic and air pollution. It is undergoing a month-long trial in efforts "to promote green transport," Xinhua reported.

The path is nearly five miles long and runs below the city's Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lanes. It offers 11 exits to subway and bus stations. Bikes can be rented and returned at various locations throughout the city.

The path can accommodate more than 2,000 bikes per hour and has a maximum speed limit of 15 miles per hour. Gates at the entrance to the path will automatically close when it's at capacity, according to Co.Exist.

The original design, called the “Xiamen BRT Air Bike Road Concept," was created by students from a Xiamen University-affiliated science and technology school. One of the student designers, Li Yunpeng, is pictured below left.


Li Yunpeng (left) and his classmates design the Xiamen aerial bike path. Photo credit: Chen Lu

The path's highest section is 16 feet off the ground, a measurement which mimics the original design. The students also suggested that the paths link to public transit hubs.

Early reviews of the path are positive. "It's nice to ride a bicycle under the blue sky in the sunshine," local resident Wu Xueying told Xinhua. He also commented that the guardrail helped him to feel safe.

Another resident said his work commute took the same amount of time whether he drove a car or biked on the aerial path, Xinhua reported.

A similar undertaking is the Cykelslangen, or Cycle Snake, an elevated bike track in Copenhagen. Another recently unveiled innovative bike path is Texas A&M University's solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark bike lane.

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You can now walk or cycle across most of the state of Missouri. Gov. Jay Nixon has opened a 47.5-mile extension to the Katy Trail, effectively creating one continuous hike-and-bike path from the St. Louis area to the outskirts of Kansas City.

"You'll be able to go 287 miles on an incredible asset," Nixon told the Kansas City Star at the ribbon-cutting on Dec. 10 in Pleasant Hill, a suburb just south of Kansas City.

According to the governor's office, the new section of the trail follows the corridor of the old Rock Island Railroad for 47.5 miles from Pleasant Hill to Windsor, where a junction connects to the rest of the Katy Trail State Park.

At 287 miles, the Katy Trail is now officially the nation's longest rails-to-trails project, besting the 253-mile John Wayne Pioneer Trail in Washington state. Rail-trails are ideal because it converts unused or abandoned rail corridors into recreational areas for the public. The Katy Trail sits on the former Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad.

Tyler Month, vice-president of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce, told radio station KCUR that the new stretch of the Katy Trail acts like a bridge to smaller communities.

"We're off the beaten path as far as highways go," Month said, "so this attracts a different group of organizations and individuals to our town that would not have otherwise come here."

The scenic and mostly flat trail follows Lewis and Clark's path along the Missouri River. The nearly 300-mile, uninterrupted trail features plenty of nature, Missouri River bluffs and picturesque communities along the way. Horseback riding is also allowed on a 35-mile section of the trail, from Sedalia to Clinton.

The extension took the Missouri Department of Natural Resources seven years to construct at a cost of $15.5 million, KCUR reported.

Plans are underway to extend the trail even further. Imagine someone biking from Jackson County on the state's western border all the way to the iconic Gateway Arch on the eastern border.

Nixon said the trail is "eerily close" to reaching that goal.

Chicago—the most bike-friendly city in the U.S.—might be building a floating, solar-powered bike path atop its eponymous river to help bicyclists navigate the waterway 24/7.

DNAinfo Chicago reported that the "RiverRide" project was recently presented by entrepreneur James Chuck of the company Second Shore at a 33rd Ward Transportation Action Committee meeting.

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.

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