Netherlands Unveils ‘Starry Night’ Solar Bike Path
Europe's lowlands are becoming the mecca of solar-powered bike paths. We especially like this take on Van Gogh’s most famous work.
A new solar-powered, glow-in-the-dark bike path in the Netherlands aims to make bike commuting safer—and more beautiful.
By day, the half-mile path looks like any other paved bike route. But at night, 50,000 stones coated in a phosphorescent paint and solar-powered LEDs light cyclists’ way. Even cooler: Daan Roosegaarde, the designer of the solar bike path, found inspiration from Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, laying the rocks and lights so they imitated the swirls of the famous Dutch painting.
The glowing route—which opened November 13 to honor the 125th anniversary of Van Gogh’s death—is the second iteration of Roosegaarde’s Smart Highway project, whose mission is to build smart, interactive highways. The project launched earlier this month with the Glowing Lines roadway that uses three lines of glow-in-the-dark paint to outline the sides of the road.
Roosegaarde hopes the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path leads to more solar-powered roadways designed to store clean energy and keep commuters safe. One of his goals is to develop reactive paints that glow in temperatures below freezing, alerting drivers to potentially icy conditions. The other: to create closed, clean-energy systems that are as beautiful as they are energy-efficient.
“It’s a new total system that is self-sufficient and practical, and just incredibly poetic,” Roosegaarde later told DeZeen magazine.
The Van Gogh route isn’t the only solar-powered bike path in the country. Earlier this month, SolaRoad started laying solar panels into a bike path outside of Amsterdam. The power they generate will go back to the national grid.