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Amanda Froelich

The smooth new velo route is hailed as the answer to urban traffic jams and air pollution. Photo:

Germany is making every cyclist’s dream a reality by opening its first bicycle-only highway. The protected roadway, which will one day extend 100 km (60 miles), recently had its first three miles opened to bicycle riders.

Reports Phys, a bicycle highway is an entirely separate roadway where cyclists can zip along on without needing to worry about car traffic. Typically, they are around four meters (13 feet) wide, with passing lanes, and overpasses and underpasses for crossroads.

Similar to roads intended for car traffic, a bicycle highway has its own streetlights and will be cleared of snow in the wintertime.

It’s ingenious – and exciting, which is why the protected roadway is the first of many planned to be developed in Germany.

The Autobahn is intended to benefit those who commute on their bike, therefore, connects 10 western cities (including Duisburg, Bochum, and Hamm, as well as four universities), relays Inhabitat.

To make use of existing infrastructure, disused railroad tracks will be transformed into wide bike-only roadways in the Ruhr industrial region.

According to a study conducted by a regional development group (RVR), opening a bike highway should take 50,000 cars off the road each day, as nearly two million people live within two kilometers (1.24 miles of the route).

Earlier this year, Europe’s first bicycle highway was approved in London. Now, others are in the work in the Netherlands and Denmark. Frankfurt is reportedly planning a 30-kilometer path south to Darmstadt, and the Bavarian capital of Munich is plotting a 15-kilometer route into its northern suburbs.

It’s an intelligent investment, many argue, as encouraging cycling not only benefits the planet, it produces a healthier populace thanks to the benefits reaped from getting active outdoors.

Unfortunately, the impressive development hasn’t been without its difficulties. When it comes to financing, for example, the federal government is typically responsible for roadworks and waterways. Cycling falls under the management of local officials.

In effect, it has been difficult raising enough funds to support the venture.

Says Martin Toennes of the development group RVR: “Without (state) support, the project would have no chance.” He says many local governments would have difficulty paying for maintenance, lighting, and snow removal.

Good thing, then, a proposal is in the works to get 180 million euros ($196 million) from the federal government to fund the entire 100-kilometer route.

Let’s hope that in the future, bicycle superhighways become the norm in all countries!

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