It’s hard to ignore the lack of infrastructure and safety for cyclists in the Middle East. In Egypt you might get sexually harassed if you are a woman riding a bike in Cairo. With the raised sidewalks, when they exist in Amman, Jordan; and the deathly traffic and smog, riding in Amman isn’t such a great exercise in sustainability either. But Middle Eastern cities looking to cut smog and the health effects of car transport might consider installing a super highway for bikes, like a new project in Denmark that has paved an 18 km cycling pathway for Danish commuters around Copenhagen.
Where cyclists in Denmark usually bike to work to save time getting caught in traffic, the effect is a marked increase in air quality. About half of the commuting population commutes by bike, and this new cycling superhighway hopes to increase these numbers even more.
According to the Toronto Star, the cycle superhighway, which opened in April, is the first of 26 routes scheduled to be built in Denmark to encourage more people to commute to and from the city centers by bicycle. The project is the brainchild of city planners who were looking for ways to increase bicycle use in a place where half of the residents already bike to work or to school every day.
“We are very good, but we want to be better,” said Brian Hansen, the head of Copenhagen’s traffic planning section said.
The “highway” has been created in natural areas so that people can hear the birds chirping. An air pump is placed at one mile intervals, and in winter the paths which are paved and smooth to ride will be plowed and cleared from snow.
While some areas of the Middle East seem too hot for cycling, think again. If drought-tolerant trees are planted along the pathways and irrigated with greywater, cities in the Middle East could create microclimates of cool biking lanes that offer great ways to get outside and beat the ever-growing traffic and obesity problem (read about the obese Gulf teen who just died of a heart attack).
Tel Aviv already has great tree-shaded boulevards for cycling, and a bike-share program called Tel-O-Fun. Lanes from its periphery cities, formed as a bike highway to Tel Aviv could provide a really innovative and quick way to beat the traffic, and help people get exercise at the same time.
Image via Cyclechick