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Pope Francis, long known for his commitment to environmental stewardship, has taken his call for climate action one step further. He now owns an electric car, a Nissan LEAF.

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Gif Credit: Co.exist

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.

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."

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