Wednesday, November 15, 2006

internet round-up: crazy bike infrastructure

We try to keep posts focused on the Ann Arbor area, but it's good to step out of the box once in a while to gain some perspective. Here is a little collection of bike infrastructure projects that have stepped way outside the traditional sidewalk vs. road paradimgn of cycling infrastructure.

A few years back, significant effort was put into the idea of a bike tunnel under the railroad tracks near Depot St. That is about as radical as Ann Arbor has gotten. Sure, big expensive projects may not be the way to spend our litmited NMV budget, but what if we were to dream big? Are any of these options worth considering in our fair city?

Bicycle Lift currently operating in Norway assists cyclists on ascending steep hills. Need a little boost up Hospital Hill or Broadway St?

Water-cooled bike path designed for Qatar beats the heat with a solar-powered water-misting system on a shaded bikepath. Ann Arbor doesn't have the heat to warrant this kind of project, let alone the oil money to pay for it. Still, simply providing cover from rain, snow, and sun makes cycling and walking a lot more attractive.

Elevated bike wind-powered bike highways have yet to meet a city with the forward-thinking leaders and deep pockets required for implementation. They system provides a tailwind making cycling "90% more efficient" in the weather protected corridors. Connect North and Central Campus, a bike express route to Ypsi running above Washtenaw, ...maybe not.

The McDonalds Cycle Center in Chicago is one of the few dream resources that came to fruition. The center offers secure parking, repair service, rentals, lockers, showers, and towel service, as well as hosting tours, classes and other events. Certainly a big city can more easily support big projects like this. Maybe we could start smaller by getting the YMCA to offer a "Shower Pass" and some bike lockers.

But innovative does not have to mean expensive. Check out this commissioned bike lane in Montreal.

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