Bicyles have made a comeback. Near the end of the 19th Century in America, the cycling craze came to be. Women especially enjoyed the once unimaginable freedom it offered, pushing the simple bicycle to become a powerful symbol of female emancipation. Over 100 years have passed since then, and the cycling craze has resurrected itself, this time in a new light: competing with cars in American cities, and shifting the urban landscape.
Over the last 10 years, biking has increased steadily across the country. In areas such as Washington, Minneapolis, and Portland, Oregon, it’s risen by as much as 71%.
And the phenomenon is not exclusive to America. Biking is gaining traction around the world, with many countries coming up with some incredibly innovative and exciting ways to get around. Poland, for instance, just came out with a new bike path that glows bright blue at night. Near Lidzbark Warminski, the path is lit up by phosphor, which is a synthetic material that illuminates after it’s charged by sunlight.
TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o created the glowing bike path thanks to inspiration from Studio Roosegaarde’s Starry Night bike lane. TPA Sp. z o.o. president Igor Ruttmar said the material in the bike path can produce light that lasts 10 hours. Every day, the path gathers energy from the sun via luminophore particles, which allows it to light up the bike path throughout the night.
“It illuminates a very bright blue, which is gorgeous against the dark forest and river at night,” Ruttmar explained. “The glow is a very nice complement to the area’s beautiful nature, lakes, small hills and countryside.”
Board of Regional Roads in Olsztyn director Waldemar Królikowski explained that the path has more than just aesthetic value, though. “We hope that the glowing bicycle path will help prevent bicycle and pedestrian accidents at night,” Ruttmar said. “It’s a problem here in Poland, especially in the areas farther from the cities that are darker and more invisible in the night.”
While the luminophores, or “particles,” in the bike lane material can emit a variety of colors, the designers settled on blue because it complemented the surrounding landscape. The designers also made sure to do their sustainability research in order to make the materials as cost effective as possible.
Unlike their inspiration of the Starry Night bike path, which uses LEDs powered by a solar array and “light-collecting paint,” TPA Sp. z o.o.’s bike lane doesn’t need any power sources to emit the beautiful blue light.
The bicycle path has been open to the public since Sept. 23, but Ruttmar notes that there are still some finishing touches that must take place before the team can truly call the project complete.
“Right now, it’s only about 100 meters long,” Ruttmar explained. “We want to test out this short section, see how it endures the winter and then create a plan to make it longer.”
Let’s hope we see more beautiful, functional, and sustainable projects like this pop up around the globe in the near future.
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