A test project in the Netherlands seeks to use the energy generated by the sun to heat bicycle paths during the winter.
If commuters’ surplus body heat can be used to keep an office building warm, then why not store the heat that beats down on bike paths during the summer and use it to keep them ice-free in the winter months? That, indeed, is precisely the premise behind a test project currently being conducted in the Netherlands with help from Dutch engineering firm Tauw. Currently under consideration in the Dutch province of Utrecht as well as the city of Zutphen, the proposed plan would call for underground pipes to be placed some 50 meters below the bike paths in question, according to a TreeHugger report. There they would collect the heat generated during summer months and store it for use later to de-ice and warm the paths in the winter, thus making travel by bicycle both safer and more appealing. The cost of the heating system would reportedly be between EUR 30,000 and EUR 40,000 per kilometer, but that may well be made up for in the savings reaped via the salt and straw that would otherwise be used in winter as well as through reduced accident costs. Transportation entrepreneurs in other wintry parts of the world: one for inspiration?