In the last five years Chicago has added over 100 miles of new bike lanes, and intends to have an additional 50 miles by 2019 with curbs and other safety features to keep bikers safe.
In an effort to keep their eyes on the future Chicago is considering new concepts to get more people biking to work. SecondShore, an architecture firm, has proposed the idea of building a floating solar powered bike path near the Chicago river
“This fits with the mayor’s general economic strategy for the city-how do we make use of latent infrastructure?”
– James Chuck co-founder SecondShore
Chuck notes that by building the path next to the river you can better protect riders. Most biking accidents occur at intersections, and by placing the bike path near the river you avoid this situation entirely.
“In reality, 55% of crashes and fatalities happen at intersections…”
The concept for what SecondShore has proposed, RiverRide, borrows on existing concepts in Portland, Oregon. The path would float on concrete pontoons, lighting would be powered by solar. Solar would also be used to heat the path to avoid ice forming, and could also power retractable awnings that could protect riders from snow and rain.
Now for a reality check, this concept doesn’t come cheap, for every mile of this pathway Chicago will be spending between $5 and $10 million. Critics believe it would be a better investment improve existing infrastructure, but Chuck is confident that it would be possible to get more people riding with the RiverRide concept.
SecondShore is planning a pilot project hopefully during the summer of 2017. The pilot program, in Chicago’s 33rd Ward, will give riders a chance to experience a half mile version of RiverRide in order to get feedback.