Turning roadways into a giant solar panel has been a dream in several countries for the past few years. The U.S., France, and the Netherlands have been testing viable products to create solar roads and in the Netherlands, a successful bike path has been implemented. While each of the available products is far from wide-scale application, there is still the possibility of testing small-scale applications within cities. Some of the best projects to further expand solar roadway testing are bike lanes and bike paths. Below are five reasons your city should consider going solar on your bike lanes.
The Paths Could Eventually Pay For Themselves
One of the main pushes behind solar roadways is that they would eventually pay for themselves through the generation of usable electricity. With a five-foot bike lane costing on average $130,000 per linear mile, they are often a low priority for cities or added inefficiently, with lanes that are too narrow to protect cyclists. If a bicycle lane or separate bike path could pay for itself, it would be considered a sustainable project that would likely gain the support of locals.
Solar Powered LEDs Could Create Better Visibility for Bike Lanes
Simply designating a bike lane for cyclists does not always protect cyclists from automobile crashes. This is because automobiles often veer into bike lanes. Several bike-friendly cities across the United States have been implementing extra safety for bike lanes by creating barriers and installing graduated traffic lights. One of the safety features that solar panel paving can offer is solar powered LED lights. This can make the bike lane more visible, making it easier for cyclists to see debris in the lane and encouraging drivers to stay out of the bike lane.
Bikes Create Less Wear and Tear Than Cars
One of the main issues that prevents the wide-scale application of solar paving methods is the wear and tear that cars and trucks create on a road. Besides damaging the road, vehicles also often leak fluids and create a film of grime on the streets, which can lower the efficiency of solar panels. Bikes are lighter than cars, so they create much less force on the pavement. Furthermore, they are less likely to cover the panels with heavy grime.
Bikes Cover Less of the Surface Than Cars
During rush hour in many cities, cars are packed onto the roads, covering most of the surface area. This would make solar pavement inefficient because sunlight would not be able to reach the surface of the pavement. However, cyclists take up much less space on a bike lane than a vehicle does. Cyclists could use the bike lane without disrupting the amount of solar power the panels generate.
Your City Will Be Known as a Leader In Innovation
At the moment, U.S. projects are being designed for sidewalks, a train station, and part of an airport tarmac. In the near future, solar panel paving innovators also hope to complete residential roads and parking lots. However, a successful bike lane paved with solar panels has yet to be planned in the United States. By planning and implementing such a project in your city, you would potentially become a leader in green innovation and cyclist support. This can increase the popularity of your city and the enjoyment of your city by both visitors and residents.
While full roadway paving with solar panels has yet to be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, a bike lane or a bike path project could help increase the advancement of the necessary technology while improving your city at the same time. It should be a project that all city transportation boards consider. For more information on roadway services, click this link.