The recent Bicycle Architecture Biennial in Amsterdam featured 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,” says Adam Stones of Amsterdam-based social enterprise Bycs. “And by showing what is possible, it will lead to many more creative solutions being implemented.”
Bycs is the organisation behind the biennial 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.
Auckland, New Zealand: The city 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.
Limburg, Belgium: Two of Europe's most ingenious and original cycle schemes are available in
this little known corner of Belgium. Here, 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 3m 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. And, nearby, Limburg has also designed a path that carries cyclists up into the air, on a tree-top loop that runs through dense forest canopy almost 10m above ground. Built for tourism organisation Visit Limburg in the Pijnven nature reserve, the structure is a double circle that is 100m in diameter. The 3m wide path is almost 700m long and rises at a gentle gradient to a height of 10 metres before descending back to the forest floor.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.
The designers created the structure to enable people to engage with the forest, being mindful that the attraction should have the least possible impact on its surroundings. To reduce the impact on the forest, it was built using a single crane that was mounted at the centre of the circle. The weathering steel structure was put up with screw pile foundations, meaning that no concrete was used.
Coast to coast, USA: The world's longest cycle route: called the Great American Rail-Trail, an ambitious project is currently underway to create a bike path that stretches almost 6,000km across 12 states, enabling cyclists to traverse the entire US, from Washington state to Washington, D.C. without using roads. Launched in May 2019, the route will eventually connect over 145 disused railway tracks. So far more than 3,200km of it has been completed. The project is led by the Rail-to-Trails Conservancy, which has raised more than $4 million in public and private funds. Once completed, the ambitious infrastructure project will serve 50 million people within 80km of the trail.
Xiamen, China: The world’s longest elevated cycleway is in China. Above Xiamen’s busy road network, the world’s longest elevated cycle path stretches 7.6km 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.
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