Eight years ago, middle school students in Xiamen, China, proposed a new design for an aerial bike lane for the city, suspended under an elevated road used for bus rapid transit. The city eventually decided to build it. After six months of design and construction, it’s now open for trial use.
The route stretches almost five miles, making it the longest elevated bike path in the world. It has 11 exits that link to six public transit hubs. If someone doesn’t have a bike, and just wants to get to the next subway or bus station quickly, they can rent one of hundreds of bikes provided on-site; the bikes can also be dropped off at other locations throughout the city.
It’s a little like the “Cycle Snake” elevated bike path in Copenhagen, which links between bridges over a crowded pedestrian area (and a little like a crazier design once considered, and abandoned, for a bike path between the roofs of skyscrapers in the Danish capital). But the Xiamen path will happen at a larger scale.
At rush hour, the path will be able to accommodate more than 2,000 bikes an hour; gates at the entrance automatically close if it gets too full. Designed to help decrease traffic on the city’s roads, and the accompanying air pollution, it’s meant to be a viable alternative to driving.
“I tried [it] today, and it took 10 minutes from my home to my workplace, which is the same as when I was driving,” Chen Yimin, a local resident, told Xinhua.