Possibility of heated bike paths in the future
Residents of the Netherlands may soon have a safer time cycling in the winter, as the town of Zutphen and the province of Utrecht are both considering an experiment with heated bicycle lanes, as reported by the Telegraaf.
Engineering consultancy Tauw is examining the possibility of heating cycle paths using "Warmte Koude Storage" (WKO), whereby heat accumulated in asphalt in the summertime can be stored underground and released in the wintertime, and vice versa. The technique could also be applied to foot paths in the future.
In response to climatological and economic changes, thousands of similar underground energy systems have been built in the Netherlands in recent years, leading to a reported 57 percent reduction in energy use.
Using this well-established technology to heat bike paths would come with additional benefits beyond increased comfort and sustainability. The designers also expect savings from fewer accidents, reduced need for salt, and more people choosing to cycle rather than drive their cars.
The project’s leader, Marcel Boerefijn, believes the heated paths may ultimately cost less than the current method of putting straw on the paths. He estimates that WKO-heated paths will cost about 30 to 40 thousand euros per kilometre, around the same price of putting down new asphalt.
Furthermore, "Accidents bring many additional costs with them. Statistics indicate that 5 to 10 percent of cycling accidents occur due to slipperiness."
Arien de Jong, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Cyclists Unions adds, "If cycle lanes are frozen over for four weeks, that means 7.000 additional accidents involving cyclists. So of course all ideas to improve road safety for cyclists are welcome."
Will snow- and ice-free bike paths encourage you to cycle more in the winter?