Bike paths that light the way

It could be the next big thing in bike path construction: paths that glow.

There is rapidly developing technology that would allow paths (and eventually streets and even highways) to be “paved” in solar powered glass pavers or with chemicals that ingest light and give it back at night.

An installation in Pruszkow, Poland uses “luminophores” to bath a section of bike trail in calming blue light at night. And a startup company in Idaho is building solar pavers that they say will support the weight of a semi. That company, Solar Roadways, has installed 150 square feet of the pavers in a demonstration project in Sandpoint, Idaho. The pavers can be walked or biked upon.

It might be awhile before the technology catches on for major highway building projects, but, if the cost can be managed, you can imagine widespread use for bike paths pretty soon. This would mean greater safety at night and it could even mean more use of paths in the winter as the solar pavers can melt ice and snow.

To our knowledge no Wisconsin community is as of yet exploring this technology. With coveted Bicycle Friendly Community ratings becoming more competitive all the time, this might be a great way to get a lead over the competition.

About Dave Cieslewicz, Director Emeritus

Dave Cieslewicz served two terms as mayor of Madison where he set the city on a path for Platinum status as one of the best biking cities in North America. Before that he started his own nonprofit, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, which focuses on land use and transportation policy. He has been an adjunct professor at the UW Madison's Department of Urban and Regional Planning where he teaches a class called Bikes, Pedestrians and Cities. He pronounces his name chess LEV ich, but nobody else does.

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