Bicycle lanes are wonderful things, often running through bucolic countryside. Or, like this one in South Korea running 20 miles between the cities of Daejeon and Sejong, they can be running down the median of a six-lane highway. And what’s really special about this one is that it is covered with solar panels, generating electricity and shading the cyclists as they ride.
When I first watched this drone’s video I was dubious, wondering how do the cyclists get to the median? Is this really a bike lane or just a solar power scheme? But then I zoomed in on a couple of frames and see that yes, there are actually cyclists using it, and there are these pavilions at bridge crossings so it appears that cyclists carry or ride their bikes up from below where the road goes under the highway:
Youtube/Video screen capture
When we covered the solar bike lane in the Netherlands, a lot of commenters suggested that putting the solar panels on top of the bike lane like this made a lot more sense than burying it under. But does it make sense to put a bike lane in the middle of a highway like this? It is going to be noisy, turbulent when big trucks go by, and the air will be full of particulates and carcinogenic diesel fuel. And every now and then, some vehicle is going to crash through the safety barriers. And then there is the whole riding experience; as one commenter at Carscoops noted,
One of the major advantages of cycling is engagement within an immediate environment. Cycling is, to a great degree, about remaining connected to what’s happening around you. One of the great detriments of car-oriented design is the disconnect that higher speed requires. As such, how many cyclists would really WANT to use this? Bottom line is, cycling should NOT be accommodated within a car-prioritized design. Cars should be accommodated within bike-oriented design, and both should be accommodated in pedestrian-optimized areas. Walking should be highest priority; then cycling, then driving
I am conflicted. I love the idea of inter-city bike infrastructure being provided, the shading and protection from the solar canopy is a big help, and of course the bonus of the clean solar power. But it seems like a terrible place to ride a bike. What do you think?