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The 5 outstanding projects of the Bicycle Architecture Biennial

Helping cities adapt to cycling… That’s the challenge of the biennial Bicycle Architecture that takes place in June in Amsterdam. For its second edition, the biennial dedicated to the link between architecture and cycling has put very innovative projects in the spotlights. Here are the highlights.

The second biennial of cycling architecture in Amsterdam presents innovative, creative and original infrastructure projects aimed at encouraging municipalities and people to turn to cycling. “By presenting realistic and dynamic solutions, the BAB inspires a new way of thinking about what cities of the future should look like,” explains Adam Stones, head of Bycs, the company behind the biennial. “Our mission? Convince municipalities to move up a gear regarding their bike-compatibility by giving them a series of concrete examples. And aim for the “50by30”, meaning 50% of all urban trips will be done by bike by 2030.

This BAB consists of an aggregate of projects, 15 in total, grouped around three themes: roads, connections and destinations. Of the projects selected by the architects of NEXT, a firm based in Amsterdam and Beijing, 11 have already been realised, and four are still in concept phase. Here’s the top five.

 

1. Utrecht: the largest bicycle parking in the world

Utrecht, in the Netherlands, is at the top of the list of 90 best cities for cycling. More than 43% of all trips take place regularly on two-wheeled vehicles. The authorities have turned the Dutch city into a cycling paradise thanks to an investment in ad hoc infrastructure: a network of covered and open-air cycle paths connects different parts of the city, and bridges, underpasses and roundabouts have been specially designed for cyclists. However, a growing number of cyclists need a safe place to park. The city has therefore built the world’s largest bicycle parking lot, with 12,500 spaces, indoor ramps to facilitate access, and a digital system to direct cyclists to the available free spaces. After some work, Utrecht aims to increase the capacity of this bike park to 33,000 spaces by 2020.

 

2. Bokrijk: cycling through water

Limburg proposes quite an extraordinary experience. Cyclists can cycle “through water” on a specially designed trail that crosses the Bokrijk ponds. “Cycling through water” offers an immersive experience in nature. The road is 212 metres long and 3 metres wide. Since its opening, it has already been crossed by more than 1 million cyclists who feel like Moses as the path opens in the water.

 

3. Limburg: riding on treetops

In the same region, Limburger planners have designed a path that literally carries cyclists in the air, on a treed loop that crosses a dense forest, nearly 10 metres above the ground. The path is part of a network of cycle paths that crosses the reserve of De Wijers, in the north of the flat country. As a result, cyclists are encouraged to get closer to nature – literally.

 

4. Auckland: a state-of-the-art airway

In the same vein, but in a much more urban fashion, Auckland is finalising the construction of a cycle corridor over the city’s busiest thoroughfares. The first phase of the project has already transformed an old motorway exit into an elevated airway. Lined with atmospheric sensors, this track informs cyclists in real time about the degree of pollution. Most importantly, it crosses the central motorway junction of Auckland and connects commuters to the city’s existing cycle network. A safe way for city dwellers to get to the city centre.

 

5. China: the world’s longest elevated bicycle path

Building the world’s longest elevated bicycle path for 7.6 kilometres? That’s the challenge faced by Xiamen, China. This suspended path crosses the city on top of a heavily used road network. With a capacity of 2,000 bikes at peak times and rental points for those who don’t have their own bikes, this new route should relieve congestion in the metropolis and encourage people to get on their bikes. The cycle path is suspended under a bus lane. It follows the city’s public transport network and connects it to 11 exit points. The idea is to encourage intermodal transport, because at any moment, cyclists can leave the track to jump in the bus or tube.

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