Glow-in-the-dark and solar bike paths: a glimpse of the future

Glow-in-the-dark and solar bike paths: a glimpse of the future

The future is solar. At least, innovators in the Netherlands are harnessing the alternative energy source to revolutionise the country’s bike paths and motorways. Most recently, a glow-in-the-dark bike lane reminiscent of Van Gogh’s "Starry Night" has been unveiled in Nuenen, near Eindhoven.

Van Gogh Roosegaarde bike path

Designer Daan Roosegaarde - in collaboration with construction company Heijmans - has created a kilometre-long bike path that glows in the dark. Thousands of fluorescent paint-coated stones and solar-powered LEDs make up the lane, the stones absorb the sun’s rays throughout the day, and light up as darkness falls.

The swirling design of the bike way was inspired by Van Gogh’s masterpiece "Starry Night". The glow in the dark stretch of the path - which was unveiled on November 13 - runs through the county of Brabant in which Van Gogh was born and raised, and connects two water mills depicted in his renowned works.

The "poetic light" emitted from the path creates enough visibility for cyclists, without producing unnecessary light pollution.

Techno poetry

The cycle path’s designer, Daan Roosegaarde, is from Nieuwkoop in the west of the Netherlands. He studied at the Institute for the Arts in Arnhem, the Academy of Fine Art in Enschede and the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam, before founding Studio Roosegaarde - a social lab of designers and engineers.

Roosegaarde’s work has been exhibited in the Rijksmuseum, The National Museum Tokyo and the Tate Modern amongst others, and the designer has been awarded a number of accolades including Talent of the Year 2015 by Kunstweek.

The project is about making public spaces energy efficient and beautiful. Roosegaarde has used the term "techno poetry" to describe the bike lane, because it combines futuristic technologies with beautiful human experiences.

2015: celebration of Van Gogh

The swirling and glowing multi-coloured design was inspired by one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most iconic works.

The opening of the bike path is the first of a series of cultural events honouring the late artist’s legacy, events which will continue throughout 2015 - the year marking the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death.

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Smart highway

The new glow-in-the-dark bike way marks the second collaboration between Studio Roosegaarde and Heijmans, the first being the visionary solar powered Smart Highway.

Studio Roosegaarde is now looking to replicate these projects internationally.

Solar bike path in Krommenie
The unveiling of the glow-in-the-dark bike lane in Nuenen came quickly after the world’s first solar bike path was pioneered in Krommenie.

This 70 metre stretch of bike lane is the first public road in the world to be embedded with solar panels.

Sunlight falling on the path’s surface is absorbed and converted into electricity. At present, the bike lane - which accommodates an average of 2.000 cyclists a day - has the potential to generate enough energy to power three houses.

The three million euro project is the first of its kind on a global scale. If successful, there are plans to expand it.

Sources: The Guardian, Studio Roosegaarde

Zoe Neilson


Zoe Neilson

Zoe Neilson is a freelance writer living and working in Amsterdam. She is from Edinburgh, but has also lived in Strasbourg, London, Sydney and Leeds, and has now been based...

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