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Poland Tests a Self-Sufficient, Glow-in-the-Dark Bike Path

The solar-powered lane is meant not just to be pretty, but also safer.

Strabag

What’s it like to glide over a river of blue, bioluminescent algae? Ask a cyclist in the town of Lidzbark Warminski, Poland, which is experimenting with a night-glowing bike path.

The tech behind the fetching thoroughfare was created by TPA Instytut Badan Technicznych, a “materials technology competence center for asphalt, concrete, earthworks, and geotechnical engineering,” and installed by contractor Strabag. It’s about 6 feet wide and 330 feet long and cost roughly $31,000. The inspiration was a similar glowing bike lane in the Netherlands designed by Daan Roosegaarde as a homage to van Gogh’s  "The Starry Night."

Strabag

The solar-charged lane, which uses materials called phosphors, is meant not just to be easy on the eyes but on cyclists’ joints and noggins, ostensibly raising the level of safety during night riding. Here’s more on how it works from a Strabag press release (via Google Translate):

The material... is able to give light for more than 10 hours. This means that the path overnight emits light energy and re-gathers the next day. Importantly, the effect is due [to] aggregate properties used without ... additional sources of energy. For the construction of the path near Lidzbark Warminski [we] chose phosphors glowing blue, to be consistent with the [local] landscape.

As for that last part, it’s probably a reference to a lake that’s nearby—the town itself does not glow entirely blue. See a video of the path in day-and-night conditions here.

H/t Next Nature

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.