South Korea is definitely out there among the biggest and greatest when it comes to technological developments. The latest incredible design is a 20 mile long bicycle lane, placed in the middle of a busy motorway that connects the cities of Daejeon and Sejong. Along the whole stretch of the lane, cyclists are nicely protected from the strong sun exposure by solar panels that also generate clean electricity all day long.
The designers have thought about strategic means to get on the lane in a safely manner. There are a number of underground crossings that allow cyclists to reach lane safely, without having to cross the busy highway. But there are still some limitations that are quite intriguing.
Solar panels above the bike lanes were the first alternative, and apparently highly desirable improvement that was proposed when the Dutch solar bike lanes were introduced, but I am not too certain I agree with this. In the case from the Netherlands, the solar panels did not act as a tunnel, in which bikers are confined. Yes, if your aim is solely to get from A to B on a bike, then you would not really mind, but the whole experience of being part of the surrounds while cycling is lost.
This is the feeling that the bike lanes in the abandoned tunnels of London’s underground would give to cyclists too. It does take care of the traffic problem, that is for sure, but if the biker does not experience the pleasure of riding, would he/she still chose the two wheeler as a mode of transport? And how about if the tunnel is surrounded by a noisy and polluting highway, where an arrogant driver is bound to hit the barriers at some point?
Do not get me wrong, I like the idea of using available space to generate solar power anywhere and at any time possible. Unquestionably, bike lanes provide that great space and having solar panels above or under them is of course much better than having no solar panels at all. But if I have to be picky, I think like the idea of having the panels on the ground, and not above my head.
Image (c) Youtube screenshot