In the Netherlands there are an estimated 18 million bicycles (for less than 17 million people) and over 20,000 miles of bikes lanes. Making sure those bike lanes are clear is especially important during the snowy, icy winter days because bikes are important to help people get to work and conduct their daily business. Poorly kept bike lanes are simply not good for the local economy.
The town of Zutphen and the province of Utrecht in the Netherlands want to make sure bike lanes are continuously clear and safe even during bad winter weather. So they've come up with a proposal to install bike lanes that use geothermal energy to make sure they're free of ice and snow. The BBC reports that the lanes would cost about $50,000 per kilometer but the costs would be offset:
[T]he man behind the proposal, Marcel Boerefijn, said there would be savings from fewer accidents, less salt needed to grit roads and reduced car expenses.
Mr Boerefijn said it was possible that the final net cost would be less than putting straw down on the paths.
Arien de Jong, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Cyclists Unions said: "We are very excited about the heated paths, because they could prevent so much misery. If cycle lanes are frozen over for four weeks, that results in about 7,000 more accidents involving cyclists.
And you wonder why the Dutch have one of the happiest countries in the world.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com