Glowing Cycle Lanes and Smart Road Markings
In addition to good cheese and their love for the caravan, the Dutch are known for one thing in particular: their passion for cycling. So it should come as no surprise that the first solar-powered cycling paths were built here – in this tiny country that is probably home to more bicycles than people. Read More
For a number of years and in a number of places, research has been done on ways to replace conventional street lights with solar-powered, illuminated road markings. This new approach has not yet been implemented and established on the streets though.
Holland is clearly perusing its goal of using more alternative energy very ambitiously: Since estimates have shown that solar panels on the roofs of buildings would at most cover just one fourth of energy demand, the Dutch have expanded their efforts to include bicycling paths and roads. Two cycle paths with integrated solar collectors in their surfaces were opened this past winter.
Additionally the Dutch are also experimenting with smart markings for roads. This could be the first steps towards an environmentally friendly and cost-saving infrastructural revolution.
Inspired by van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh could never have dreamed he would one day be the inspiration for a cycling path: on the 125th anniversary of his death, the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle lane was opened in Eindhoven in the artist’s honour. Hundreds of thousands of tiny blue-green luminous stones swirl through the surface of the cycle path in a pattern reminiscent of van Gogh’s famous painting “Starry Night”. The stones charge in sunlight, though they do require a little conventional energy boost to glow the whole night though. Developers are convinced, though, that they will soon be technically capable of ensuring the stones allocate their stored energy to last the entire night.
The path charges during the day and glows at night.
The Van Gogh-Rossegaarde cycle lane is the second Smart Highway concept to be implemented, and the brainchild of designer Daan Roosegaarde from Studioroosegaarde and Heijmans Infrastructure.
Smart Highway: Glowing Lines
The same concept in a different configuration: Far from the bicycling path, the Smart Highways pilot project graces Holland’s highways. Smart road markings called Glowing Lines charge during the day and light up at night. Optically the Glowing Lines look a bit like the glow sticks you can purchase and wear at festivals – though here they ensure safe streets. The Glowing Lines can be experienced every night along the N329 (“The Road of the Future”) in Oss. The successful pilot project has generated international requests for the Glowing Lines – which will also soon be visible along other stretches of road in the Netherlands.
SolaRoad – the world's first solar cycle lane
Unlike the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle lane, SolaRoad requires no additional energy source and can therefore rightfully claim to be the first completely solar cycling lane. This path takes a different approach: The energy stored during the day is not just used to illuminate the path, but also as an alternative source of electricity. Here the solar panels primarily familiar to us from the roofs of buildings are incorporated into the actual road.
“The generated electrical energy can be used for various applications, such as road lighting and traffic systems. Households may benefit from it as well. In time, electric cars might possibly be able to make use of the energy. The energy will then actually be generated at the place where it is needed: this is a big step towards an energy-neutral mobility system.” promises the homepage. The project was developed by the Dutch TNO Research Institute.
The70-metre pilot stretch was opened on the same day as the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle lane and is to be expanded to 100 meters by 2016. This may not sound like much, but these 100 meters will be capable of producing the amount of energy used by 2-3 average households annually. If the SolaRoad test phase is successful, the Dutch will be a huge step closer to their ultimate goal: to meet all their energy needs using alternative energies.