The number of bikes in our cities is increasing, and with that increase we're also seeing some major changes in the way cities are designed. Engineers are giving bikes their own bridges, tunnels, overpasses, even escalators!, making biking feel like it's an essential, permanent part of the city.
Last week, Copenhagen announced an elevated cycleway for the Øresund Bridge, an existing bridge which connects the city to Malmö, Sweden. It's the second longest bridge in Europe, and at about eight miles long, will likely be the longest dedicated bike bridge in the world. That's a serious commitment to the cyclists in the region, but also to the health and well-being for all residents. Customized bike infrastructure is more comfortable, convenient, and safe for those who choose to travel on two wheels, but it's also safer for pedestrians as well. As the biking movement gains momentum, we'll be seeing cities devoting more space and energy towards these awesome bike-only improvements that make streets safer for everyone.
Video by Classic Copenhagen
This elevated bike bridge over the city's harbor opened earlier this month as a two-lane, bikes-only connector for Copenhagen's extensive bike network. Cykelslangen, or "cycle snake" curves up and over the water with wide lanes, a gradual climb, and a lovely orange pavement that provides a nice contrast to moving cyclists.
Photo by Juande Jiménez
In 2009 the city of San Sebastian converted an old railway tunnel into the world's longest bike commuter tunnel. A little over a half-mile long, the tunnel connects two neighborhoods that were previously inaccessible to bikers on either side. Now cyclists can ride the route all the way to the neighboring city of Bilbao.
For those calf-killing streets what could be better than a bike lift that gives cyclists a little boost to the top? This Norwegian lift dates to 1993 but was replaced last year with an updated design which is now being marketed to other cities. Incidentally, this is the bike infrastructure proposed for DC that spawned an angry op-ed—and subsequent protests—last week.
Photo via Shift
A similar concept to the bike lift are these bike escalators, found in Tokyo's parking garages and metro stations. A moving track for tires gives a little extra push to riders as they walk their bikes up the stairs. It's a nice gesture for commuters coming home from work, as the last thing they want to do at the end of the day is carry a bike up three flights of stairs—especially in heels.
Not too many places have managed to integrate freeways and cyclists with success, but leave it to The Netherlands to find a solution. The Hovenring, which was finished in 2013, is a floating steel suspension deck that allows bikes to travel up and over the busy highway. The resulting structure is not only useful, but absolutely beautiful, too.
Like something out of a sci-fi movie, this bike garage by Giken mechanically parks hundreds of bikes underground, saving time for commuters and space for cities. Users load their bikes into a dock and swipe their membership cards, sending their bikes below ground for storage. Upon return, users swipe their cards again, and their bike surfaces in about eight seconds. Magic.
There are plenty of bike highways across Europe, notably a large system in Copenhagen that allows bikers to move easily across the city. The same concept is currently being built out in London as part of the bike share program, connecting the suburbs with dedicated, numbered routes to the inner city.
Top image via Classic Copenhagen, who also shot the video.
Do you have an awesome bike-only infrastructure project near you? Drop a photo and description below.