Seven Bike Lanes That Could Revolutionize Urban Landscapes

These seven innovative designs could very well be the future of urban mobility.

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Photo courtesy of Foster & Partners

This story originally appeared on Urbanful on March 11, 2015.

Bike lanes are nothing new. Plenty of people argue they’re crucial thriving urban cycling networks; America’s friendliest cities have them.

But, as with all progressive communities, there are some projects pushing the envelope farther than others. These projects stretch the imagination in their cities, and with luck, in the way we think about building bike lanes of the future.


Photo courtesy of Gensler

London Underline in London

Tapping into an existing network of underground tunnels could transform how cyclists get around London. Known as the London Underline, the concept simplifies transportation as it moves bicyclists and pedestrians to a dedicated bike path located below the city’s surface.

Imagine rolling through a series of routes reserved just for biking and walking. This could be a game-changer: Cyclists would basically have their own city.

It all takes place below the existing framework of the city, and puts unused tunnels to work. The path links to the subway system at key points, so the two worlds remain connected. The concept has the potential to reduce traffic snarls by streamlining transportation routes used by different segments of the population.

Gensler, the architectural firm that came up with the idea, plans to bring placemaking into the design. The spaces draw the community together as people interact in a series of defined, yet adaptable areas within the tunnel. Potential ideas include exhibition space, retail businesses and special events.

Emerging technology could push the project into uncharted territory. As pedestrians walk along tiles installed on the route, their footsteps generate energy. This kinetic energy is harnessed through the tiles and powers the Underline itself.

Next on the agenda is for a feasibility study to get underway, followed by a proof of concept if it’s determined that the project could actually become a reality.


Photo courtesy of Foster & Partners

Skycycle in London

A British architect came up with an opposite approach to the London Underline idea. Norman Foster was also kicking around the concept of creating a better way for cyclists to get around the city. He came up with building a highway in the sky. The rendering shows an elevated bike system that sits above the infrastructure that is already in place for train lines.


Photo courtesy of Velo-City

Velo-city in Toronto

The idea behind another elevated bike trail was created years ago: Velo-city. The innovator behind this design is Chris Hardwicke, an architect from Toronto. The Canadian version features a clear enclosure that allows cyclists to ride in all types of weather. It’s similar to a subway, funneling bicyclists into a centrally-located spot that offers a convenient transition back onto city streets.


Veloway in Melbourne

The Melbourne Veloway in Australia is a concept that could be gaining traction. The premise behind this bike path is an entirely separate freeway system created exclusively for bicyclists. Imagine an existing highway being retro-fitted with a “clip-on” piece of plastic- that’s the idea behind the Veloway. The bike highway would interconnect bike trails to each other, while providing cyclists with an efficient and safe roadway for travel. A show-and-prove in the form of a feasibility study could catapult this concept into reality if it’s deemed a winner.



Photo courtesy of Athena PR

Starpath in Britain

The UK is already trying out this cool concept that uses a solar-enhanced liquid that works to illuminate bike paths at night. The “Starpath” produces a blue glowing light after soaking up the sun’s rays during the day, so it’s a solar-powered material that gives cyclists the light they need when it’s dark. An added bonus is that it’s thought to reduce injury due to its non-slip surface.



Photo courtesy of SolaRoad

SolaRoad in Amsterdam

Amsterdam has the distinction of having the world’s first solar bike path open in its backyard. The newly-completed bike lane, located 15 miles north of Amsterdam, was constructed with solar cells incorporated into square-shaped slabs of concrete. Tempered glass placed on the top of the panels completes the look. The experiment continues as scientists study the path for the next three years to determine how much electricity the SolaRoad generates.



Photo courtesy of Livable Memphis

Hampline in Memphis

Speaking of “firsts,” Memphis decided to create its latest bike path using an unusual approach: crowd-funding. In a move deemed “the most innovative bicycle infrastructure project to be built within the United States,” the people behind the project took to ioby, a Kickstarter-like platform, to generate the remaining funds it needed to complete its bikeway plan. The concept includes two-way, protected lanes that feature landscaped medians and dedicated bike signals.



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