Julian Ferguson, ECF, 24/10/2012
Cities for Cyclists, Mobility, Road safety, News, News Comment
Dutch transport in winter – Credit: Amsterdamize.com
Just when you thought the Dutch had it all in terms of cycling infrastructure, they go one step further and decide to heat bike lanes during the winter months.
According to the Dutch Newspaper, the Telegraaf, tests are about to start with heated cycle lanes. Why? Well according to the newspaper, cycle lanes will become safer and there will be fewer accidents.
Media Coverage Of Heated Bicycle Lanes
ted cycle lanes to warm Dutch winter cyclists“, BBC News, October 23, 2012.
“Experiments to start in heating cycle lanes“, Dutch News, October 23, 2012
The system will work by using ’asphalt collectors’ to collect the summer heat which will then be stored underground and used to warm cycle lanes in winter.
Our members from Fietsersbond told the media, ”We are very excited about the heated paths, because they could prevent so much misery. If cycle lanes are frozen over for four weeks, that results in about 7,000 more accidents involving cyclists.”
The scheme could cost up to €40,000 per kilometre. But the Dutch believe the expense is well worth it; they’ll save money with fewer hospital bills, less salt and grit, and if all goes to plan, fewer cars during the winter months.
According to the Dutch mobility consultant, Amsterdamize, it’s a marginal cost when building high-quality cycle infrastructure and could have a great return on investment during the winter months.
Often people say that winter and cycling don’t match. But that’s a myth. According to Copenhagenize Consulting, 80% of Copenhageners cycle in winter.
Martti Tulenheimo, ECF’s Urban Mobility Policy Officer is a regular cyclist in cold winter weather.
“It’s a myth that cycling in winter isn’t possible. People cycle if the infrastructure is there and its maintained.”
Originally coming from Finland, Tulenheimo believes that his country is a perfect case study.
“In Finland, you have cities in the north like Oulu where it gets really cold. Yet in warmer Helsinki, you have three times fewer cyclists because they fail to keep their cycle network maintained in winter.”
In a survey, 1300 active Finnish cyclists stated that “slippery roads” were the biggest barrier to winter cycling and not cold weather.
Maybe in the future, we’ll see more heated bicycle paths across Europe. But in the meantime, cities should make clearing bicycle paths a priority during the winter months.
Further Reading: “De-icing bike paths in the winter of 2009-2010″ A Fietsberaad Study.
Still want more? In Oulo, Finland, there will be a Winter Cycling Congress in February, 2013.
Note to readers: Cycling is also possible in winter without heated cycle paths. See this great video from the Bicycle Dutch Blog.
About the Author
Julian Ferguson is the Communications Officer for the European Cyclists’ Federation. Originally hailing from Australia and a keen bicycle advocate, he plans one day to ride his bicycle from Brussels to Melbourne