Solar-powered bike paths that can melt snow and ice; pollution-eating vacuum towers near bicycle paths; bicycle parking stations with lockers, rest rooms, and showers; and bicycle wheels with rechargeable batteries that help propel riders up hills are just a few of the 70 innovations—some already in place, others still on the drawing board—outlined in a new compilation of inventive ideas aimed at encouraging people to bike.
“Promoting Bicycling Through Creative Design: Innovations for Bicycles and Cycling Facilities” was compiled by Anne Lusk, research scientist in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the League of American Bicyclists, with support from the Helen and William Mazer Foundation.
“The hope is that these innovations will move the needle faster in getting people to take up cycling,” said Lusk. There are lots of good reasons for doing so, she said, noting that bicycling is good for people’s health and good for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It may also boost local economies, she said. She cited a 2010 study of a retail area in Melbourne, Australia that found that $31 was generated per hour for each square meter of parking allotted to bikes compared with $6 for similar space allotted to cars—because bikes take up so much less space than cars, thus allowing for more shoppers in the area.
Some of the innovations are already in use—such as the bicycle escalator in Trondheim, Norway that works like a ski lift. Others are still in the idea stage.