Gearing Up: An Expedition of Brilliant Cycling Infrastructure
Cycling infrastructure refers to the basic physical and organizational structures and facilities used by cyclists. This includes the same network of roads and streets used by motorists, except those roads from which cyclists have been banned, as well as additional bikeways that are not available to motor vehicles, such as bike paths, segregated cycle facilities, plus amenities like bike racks for parking and specialized traffic signs and signals. From a spectacular car-free bridge in Portland, Oregon to a futuristic suspended cycle path roundabout in the Netherlands to a building where you can cycle all the way up to your 10th floor penthouse, CADdetails presents an expedition of innovative cycling infrastructure around the world. Finally, we take a look at one possible solution to bicycle storage in densely populated urban areas, as well as specialized traffic signs and signals that help cyclists keep a steady pace.
Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People
Tilikum Crossing, Bridge of the People is a groundbreaking, multi-modal bridge currently under construction in Portland, Oregon. TriMet, the Portland metropolitan area's regional transit authority, is building the 1,700-feet-long cable-stayed bridge, which will carry TriMet's MAX Orange Line light rail trains, the Portland Streetcar, buses, bicycles, pedestrians, and emergency vehicles. Private cars and trucks will not be permitted on the bridge. The crossing is scheduled to open for general use on September 12, 2015 and will be the first new bridge built across the river in the Portland metropolitan area since 1973. The first public access to the bridge will be on August 9, 2015, for the 20th annual Providence Bridge Pedal. It will then be closed until September 12, 2015, the opening date of the MAX Orange Line. A spectacular aesthetic lighting system, pictured above, will utilize 178 LEDs to illuminate the cables, towers, and underside of the deck. The color and motion of the lighting will change along with the speed, height and water temperature of the Willamette.
TriMet selected the name of the bridge in April 2014 from a list of four finalists chosen by the public. Tilikum is a Chinook Jargon word meaning people, tribe, or family, and the name is intended to honor the Multnomah, Cascade, Clackamas, and other Chinookan peoples who lived in the area as long as 14,000 years ago. The city of Portland, which is also known as America’s cycling capital, is hoping the bridge will serve as a model for new bridges in other cities.
Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Hovenring is the world’s first suspended bicycle path roundabout. Located in the Netherlands - the bicycle capital of the world - Hovenring can be found between the localities of Eindhoven, Veldhoven and Meerhoven which accounts for its name, Dutch for “Ring of the Hovens“.
This elegant floating circle of a bridge allows cyclists to cross over a busy highway in complete and utter peace. Not only does the bridge maximize cyclist safety and reduce traffic congestion, its quality design and prominence in the landscape sends a powerful message about the importance of cycling in the city’s overall streetscape. Approximately 236-feet in diameter, the bridge is suspended from a single pylon located at the center of the roundabout by 24 cables, and appears to float over a large new junction for motorized traffic. Elevated embankments lead cyclists on to the hovering roundabout. With thin decks and iconic lighting, Hovenring is a new landmark for the city. At night the slender bike ring is lit from below to further enhance that floating effect.
Building the circular bridge proved to be more difficult than expected. When the bridge was opened in December 2011, after less than a year of construction, the suspension cables vibrated so much in the wind that the bridge had to be closed for safety reasons. After extensive research by structural experts, two types of dampers (high frequency and low frequency) were attached to the cables to resolve the vibration issues and the Hovenring officially reopened to the public on June 29th, 2012.
8 House is a bow-tie shaped mixed-use building located in Southern Ørestad on the edge of the Copenhagen Canal. Designed by Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), it is a big house in the true sense of the word, consisting of 476 apartments, penthouses and small townhouses with gardens, as well as retail and office space.
Rather than a traditional city block, the 8 House literally stacks all ingredients of a lively urban neighborhood into horizontal layers connected by a continuous promenade and cycling path stretching from street level all the way up to the 10th floor, creating a three-dimensional urban neighborhood where suburban life merges with the energy of a big city.
Two sloping green roofs are strategically placed to reduce the urban heat island effect as well as provide visual identity to the project and tying it back to the adjacent farmlands. The shape of the building allows for day lighting and natural ventilation for all units. In addition, rainwater is collected and repurposed through an innovative storm water management system.
‘8 House’ has already won various prizes and was recently named as one of the most important buildings in the last decade by The Huffington Post.
The City of Copenhagen remains the benchmark of cities worldwide when it comes to figuring out cycling infrastructure. The city established the first Green Wave for cyclists back in 2007 on Nørrebrogade and, since then, the concept has spread to other major arteries in the city, as well as to the streets of Amsterdam, Berlin and even San Francisco, pictured above. The idea is simple. co-ordinate the traffic lights for cyclists so that if they ride at a speed of 13 m /h, they will hit green lights all the way into the city in the morning rush hour. The wave is reversed in the afternoon so bicycle users can flow smoothly home, too. On certain stretches, LED lights embedded in the asphalt help cyclists keep their speed in order to catch the green light at the upcoming intersection and there are simple speed radar signs reminding cyclists to maintain 13 m/h in order to surf the wave. Version 2.0 is currently being tested, with sensors able to register a group of citizens riding together and then keeping the light at the intersection they’re approaching green for a little longer.
As these four examples illustrate, across the country and around the world, cities are embracing the bicycle as a rational, practical part of a sustainable transportation system. We’ve moved from seeing bike projects as being “nice to do” to being cost-effective investments in providing mobility, reducing congestion and making our cities greener places to live and work.