June 17th, 2019 by Steve Hanley
China’s capitol city of Beijing has opened a new bicycle expressway that connects the residential neighborhoods of Huilongguan in Changping District with the rapidly developing high tech industrial zone in the Haidian district just 6.5 kilometers away, according to China Plus. About 16% of Huilongguan residents work in Changping.
Prior to opening the new highway, the trip by bike from one district to the other could take almost an hour and half because there were several busy highways to cross in between, but now the trip can be made in about 25 minutes. Despite the crushing congestion endemic to Beijing, some 40% of people living in Huilongguan still choose to drive their cars to work — a commute that can take hours.
The new bicycle highway is three lanes wide and features traffic lights that allow managers to switch the direction of the center lane as the volume of traffic changes between the morning and the evening commute. It is elevated in several areas so that it crosses over and above existing vehicle highways. A speed limit of 20 km/h is specified. The new bicycle highway will offer bicycle commuters a more pleasant biking experience while reducing the time bicyclists spend waiting at traffic lights, according to the plan.
Beijing Municipal Institute of City Planning and Design began designing the bicycle highway in 2016 and construction started in 2017. A second stage of the bicycle highway will later connect to Zhongguancun, considered China’s Silicon Valley, where nearly 20% of residents in Huilongguan work.
CleanTechnica recently reported on a study by researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of New Mexico who say infrastructure built specifically for bicyclists make roads safer for everyone. The Beijing bicycle expressway certainly does an excellent job of separating people on two wheels from normal vehicle traffic and could serve as an inspiration to planners and transportation officials in other world cities.