South Korea’s solar bike highway is both incredible and exasperating. The road, which runs between Daejon and Sejong, is covered for its entire 20-mile-length with a roof of solar panels. Those panels not only generate lots of electricity but also shield cyclists from the sun.
But the highway is just that, a two-way bike lane that runs between cities, and is stranded in the middle of the regular highway, with three lanes of traffic on either side. This is mitigated somewhat by the side barriers, which visually block the view of the surrounding road, but you’re still marooned in the median strip. And like a regular highway, it’s fine for getting from one place to another as quickly as possible, but the views aren’t up to much.
Access is via underground tunnels. If you watch the video, you’ll see spots where the panels and the path seem to disappear. These are the underground access points, so you can get on and of the bikeway without crossing traffic. The best part of this scheme seems to be the solar panels which, according to América Economía, provide more than enough electricity to power the highway’s lighting system, as well as charging points for electric cars.
The Daejon-Sejong bike path isn’t the first solar road, although it is the most ambitious we’ve seen to date. Last year we took a look at the SolaRoad in the Netherlands, where the road itself has been replaced by solar panels. That cost $3.75 million dollars for a 230-foot stretch, though, so we probably won’t be seeing a 20-mile long version any time soon.