Planning bicycle-only highways in Munich

Officials are looking into constructing 400+ miles of highways for bicycles:

The ambitious plan calls for a network of 14 two-way bike paths, each 13 feet wide and fully segregated from automobile traffic, that would spread out over an area of about 400 square miles. No crossroads, no traffic lights. It’s an autobahn for cyclists, or, as the Germans obviously call it, a Radschnellverbindungen

The Radschnellverbindungen is designed to do for bikes what highways do for cars: make traveling long distances more efficient and pleasant. Cyclists will be able to ride at about 12 mph, Kastrop says, without the need the need to slow down then get back up to speed at intersections. There are no nearby cars to worry about, and with wider lanes, you don’t risk getting stuck riding single file behind some slowpoke…

This idea of networks made for bike commuting has been catching on lately. As usual with this kind of thing, the Netherlands is out in front, with 28 long-distance, cyclist-only paths, according to City Lab. London’s planning a network of “direct, high capacity, joined-up cycle tracks.” Copenhagen’s got a “bike skyway.” Paris’ $160 million plan to boost cycling includes five proposed “highways” that will be almost entirely protected from car traffic, on some of the city’s biggest corridors, including the Champs-Elysées.

Building the Radschnellverbindungen’s not a done deal yet. Local authorities must approve the project before construction starts, and it won’t be cheap. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung pegs the estimate at $1.75 million per mile.

Three quick thoughts:

1. It would be interesting to see what it takes to plan such paths around existing infrastructure like roads, rail lines, power lines, and other obstacles. To not have any interruptions on the paths could require some ingenuity.

2. Would bicycle highways require their own rules of the road or traffic laws? You don’t want riders in the middle of the paths or riding three abreast. What happens when needing to make an exit from the path?

3. If you are curious about the cost per mile of construction, one group estimates it costs $8-10 million per mile of highway construction in urban areas.

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