eCycleway - Safe Urban Cycling or Dangerous Segregation?

ECycleway photo

In Rusay's vision, recycled-product bike bridges held up by "dirigibles" - via Design21.

It is an undisputed truth that the majority of American cities have incomplete bicycling infrastructures. This is perhaps especially true in Los Angeles, where 300+ sunny days annually should equal bike commute paradise. Designer Christopher Rusay hopes his design for an elevated lego-like cycleway, put together of recycled polyethylene pieces and recycled aluminum struts attached to existing lamp and electricity poles could help cities create and extend cyclist networks (and simultaneously, perhaps, reduce tension between autoworld and bikeworld). Solar-powered LED night lighting completes the eCycleway. Way out there? Absolutely. But also innovative and just plain wonderful to see designers thinking about this type of sustainable transport solutions.

California Cycleway photo

Photo of the California Cycleway via Wiki.
Inspired by a 100-year-old design
Designer Rusay says his eCycleway is inspired by the California Cycleway, a wooden elevated bike path that stretched from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles at the turn of the last century. The California Cycleway was demolished to make way for (of course!) California's first freeway, the 110. The California Cycleway was constructed of wood, and also happened to be a "toll road" - 10 cents for a one-way trip, 15-cents round trip - which perhaps would be a good idea to help pay for installations of the Cycleway in cities and towns where pollution-free bike commuting is growing.

"In 1901 nervous cyclists found the track safer than the widest roads, for there are no horses to avoid, no trains or trolley-cars, no stray dogs or wandering children."

Bike path costs versus benefits estimates the cost of building bike paths on regular roads to be between $5,000 and $50,000 per mile - far less than road or highway building, but still a significant cost. Rusay Designs describes the eCycleway as lighter, and quicker to install than traditional cement-based or wooden pathways, but not necessarily cheaper. In Sydney, a tentative plan to build an elevated cycleway is estimated to cost $30 million for just two kilometers of path. In Sydney's case, the Harbourlink would connect cycling commuters between different portions of the city and separate them from car traffic.

While it is lovely to be a cyclist on a bike-only path, where you only need to worry about other speed-addicted cyclists, there is a certain worry in segregating cyclists from other traffic, as it doesn't help peds, bikes, and cars "just get along."

Right now Rusay's proposed design is just that - a design. It would be interesting to some cities try the eCycleway on city stretches that are in desperate need of connection for urban cyclists.

Read more about urban cycling at TreeHugger
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