Poland just unveiled something that is innovative, eco-friendly and absolutely stunning – a glow in the dark bike path that is completely dependent on solar energy alone!
Inspired by Studio Roosegaarde’s “Starry Night” bike path that was revealed two years ago in the Netherlands, TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o. created this 100 meter path in Olsztyn, a rural town in Northern Poland near Lidzbark Warminski in the Mazury region. Poland as a whole, with its medieval towns, picturesque countrysides and vibrant cities is well known for its cycling. In many parts of the country, even horse drawn carriages are very popular methods of transportation. With this new path, the old-style country is getting a giant push into the future; in fact it’s standing at the forefront!
As TPA President Ruttmar explained to Polish publication Gazeta Wyborcza, unlike the Roosegaarde path which is constructed from solar-powered LEDs and light-collecting paint, this new path is made out of the synthetic material phosphor that collects energy from visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light in order to illuminate the path. The aim was to create something both practical and entirely self-sustained. Fully charged, the path remains lit for upwards of 10 hours at night which is plenty of time for evening cyclists to get from A to B before the sun rises again where it will then – you guessed it – recharge for nightfall. Pretty cool!
Luminophores, the luminescent particles used in this material, can actually have different colours. The engineers thought that the colour blue would be best here as it would beautifully suit the scenic Mazury landscape that surrounds it which includes a nearby lake. One look at the pictures and I think it’s safe to say they were correct; the lights are absolutely captivating.
TPA isn’t finished fine tuning the design yet, in fact the European company is currently researching ways to optimize production costs since, understandably, this illuminated upgrade to traditional bike paths costs significantly more to produce. More research also needs to take place in determining how the surface will hold up against the elements and the wear and tear of daily use. Beyond that, the board of regional roads is hopeful that the new integration will increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Waldemar Krolikowski, the boards director stated, “We hope that the glowing bicycle path will help prevent bicycle and pedestrian accidents at night. It’s a problem here in Poland, especially in the areas farther from the cities that are darker and more invisible in the night.”
The future prospects for this kind of technology is incredibly exciting but it’s important to remember that the resistance of the material is only an estimation at this point, so there is no certainty about how quickly it can or will wear out. Despite still being in the early testing stages, we have high hopes that more countries will begin to integrate it into their future cycling and pedestrian pathways in the future. Just think about all of the possibilities! Ditching street lights for solar powered roads, anyone? Designing funky patterns out of a variety of colours? This could very much be as much of an innovative transportation project as it could be a community art project!
That all being said, if you’re planning a trip to Poland in the near future, you might want to pack your bicycle and make your way into Olsztyn, but I’d get there soon before the small town becomes flooded with keen tourists!
I have to imagine in looks even more stunning in person, but for now, check it out in the pictures below!