URB-X, Radschnellweg

Why is the idea controversial?

It sounds like a cyclist’s paradise: in the city there is a modern express bike path on five-meter poles, on which cyclists do not have to worry about pedestrians or cars. The Stuttgart region is planning exactly such a pilot project. But critical voices are appearing. Why?

Most cities, politicians, urban planners and citizens agree: Urban cycling should be encouraged. However, disputes mostly arise over implementation details. Because widening bike lanes costs money and, depending on how they are implemented, can limit space for sidewalks and streets.

Even partial cycle paths are of little use if, for example, they do not lead directly through the city or cyclists have to share busy routes with fast cars.

But how to build cheap and safe cycle paths that do not require a complete reconstruction of the city’s existing infrastructure? Answer: With bike paths on stilts!

A cycle highway on stilts: that’s what the whole concept is about

At least that’s the idea of ​​the Swiss start-up Urb X. The company has developed a modular concept for elevated bike lanes that is sustainable and inexpensive, as well as quick to implement. At the same time, it should enable cyclists to ride carefree.

You can imagine the whole thing like this: A few meters above the sidewalks and streets, one leads two-lane bicycle track. This is supported by stilts, offering cyclists their own route without bikes, cars and passers-by getting in the way.

This is how Urb-X envisions an above-ground bike path. (Photo: Schreenshot / Urb-X)

and “Highway on wheels”, like Urb-X also cycle paths namessolve Fight for limited space in cities and offer cyclists a safe way to ride through the city.

The idea is not new. Anyone who has ever been on the road in the Netherlands will have seen similar elevated cycle paths, and Copenhagen also has some elevated cycle paths. But the Urb-X concept promises other benefits in addition to promoting cycling.

Cycle highway from Urb-X: sustainable, modular, cheap

Cycle paths should come local wood be built, which would be a more sustainable material than concrete, sheet metal, steel or plastic. In addition, the cycle paths are to be equipped with modern infrastructure. Urb-X looks here Lighting, traffic lights and a green roof before.

This would not only look nice, but also offer cyclists protection from rain and sun. Such a protected route would certainly encourage even more people to cycle. In winter, on the contrary, the heating system should ensure that the routes do not freeze.

In addition, solar panels are to be installed in the side borders of the cycle lanes, which will supply not only the energy elements of the cycle lane, but also power the city be able.

But the real highlight of the Swiss start-up is the modular design of the bike path. Because the bike path consists of individual building blocks that simply have to be put together according to the modular principle. This makes the construction of such a cycle path much less complicated and faster.

Cycle path module, URB-X

This is what the Radschnellweg modules should look like. (Photo: Screenshot / Urb-X)

Save 100 tons of CO2 per year and kilometer of route

The start-up claims that wooden construction can be compared to steel and concrete construction you save up to 3,000 tonnes of CO2 per kilometer of route. In addition, there would be a saving of 100 tons of CO2 per year and distance due to the generation of electricity. Solar power would also save cities €100,000 a year.

Cities would also save on maintenance costs, as the bike path, for example, would not require winter service and fewer inspections. And if something breaks, you don’t have to rebuild all the way, you can simply replace individual modules.

It is not surprising that all these advantages cause great interest in cycle lanes in some cities.

The first cities want to introduce cycle speed – also in Germany

The advantages of the Urb-X high-speed cycle lanes on stilts are obvious. They are sustainable, can be implemented quickly (a start-up promises a route of up to 250 meters per week) and could promote cycling in cities. And you are too cheap.

According to the start-up, the cost per kilometer is two million euros. With ramps and supports, another 500,000 to 900,000 euros would be added. For comparison: one kilometer of asphalt road costs somewhere between six and 20 million euros on average.

So it’s no wonder that the first cities are already knocking on Urb-X. in Basel For example, the first test runway is currently being built, and also in the region Stuttgart pilot routes with a length of around 20 to 50 kilometers are planned. The project in Baden-Württemberg is mainly managed by the State Minister of Transport Winfried Hermann and Prime Minister Winfried Kretschmann.

The two Green politicians recently looked at the pilot project in Basel and were immediately impressed. “Exactly something we need,” Kretschmann said during his visit SWR.

We have huge problems with traffic jams, for example in Stuttgart. We can get rid of this only if we implement such innovative ideas.

By 2030, the state intends to build 20 express cycle lanes. The costs could reach up to half a billion euros. But the idea also met with criticism.

doubts about longevity

Experts fear that wooden buildings more affected by wind and weather and therefore could not be as durable as more traditional materials. Mold could also form. This would lead to frequent repairs and increased costs. Maybe you would have to rebuild everything after 30 years.

Another point of criticism: Such routes cannot be pulled out arbitrarily at any point. Depending on the inner city, there are for example conflicts with tram systems. And even though the bike lanes are above ground, ramps are still needed to get the bikes up and down. There must be enough space for this. In addition, these ramps must not disturb the existing infrastructure.

CEO of the start-up Klaus Kirchmayr also agrees with this. on. But when it comes to wood quality, the company has a different opinion. In response to criticism it is[vol[zv von Urb-X: “Wood is still very underrated in terms of performance and durability. Let’s assume that we know our material and we don’t have to avoid comparisons with steel, concrete and asphalt.’

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