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Bikes on Bridge

Europe’s Longest Cycling Bridge Begins Construction In The Netherlands

Construction on what is projected to be Europe’s longest bridge for cyclists and pedestrians has begun in the Netherlands. The Blauwe Loper, or Blue Carpet Bridge, will be over 2600 feet long, basically half of a mile, and stretch over a lake, nature reserve, canal, and motorway. The purpose of the bridge is to connect a new town in the Netherlands to the closest city for easy access. 

The plan is to eventually extend the bridge to be over 3,000 feet in length but construction is being done by phases, the first of which is predicted to be completed by December of 2020. The bridge itself will cost approximately six million American dollars and will connect Winschoten, located in the Groningen province in the Netherlands, to Blauwestad, which as previously mentioned is a brand new village that is also currently being constructed on reclaimed land in the Netherlands. 

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The Blue Carpet Bridge is being constructed with three demographics in mind; cyclists, pedestrians, and oddly enough, bats. As previously stated, the bridge itself will stretch over a nature preserve and a lake, more specifically Oldambtmeer lake, both of which are safe habitats for the Netherlands extensive bat population. 

Not only will the bridge be painted a “bat-friendly” green, studies show that bats are attracted to green hues at night, but it also will be lined with LED lighting to assist the creatures in finding their way from the nature preserve to the lake, or vice versa. 

Reinder Lanting, one of the main project leaders for the project, told a regional publication the main goals for the bridge in the long term, stating: “We think we can stretch it to a kilometre by connecting it to the main street in Blauwestad. This bridge is not going to rot. That is because it is technically well designed. The wood is not pressed together but has a sort of venting system.”

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The wood that Lanting is referring to is being sourced from Gabon in Central Africa. Gabon in general is known for their okoumé, which can be converted into plywood, in fact the country supplies it to over 90% of the world. With this wood Lanting and his team expect that the bridge will last for at least 80 years before it needs any major upgrades/renovations. 

The Dutch cycling embassy, a government-funded agency, tweeted: “The province of Groningen has started construction on the €6.5m, 800-metre Blauwe Loper … When completed in late 2020, it will be the longest bicycle bridge in Europe.”

The Netherlands in general have been making major systematic changes to their industrial geography to accommodate cyclists more. In general the efforts are to benefit the environment and combat the devastating effects of climate change. 

Currently, the longest cycling bridge in Europe is located in Sölvesborg, southern Sweden. THat bridge is around 2,400 feet, about 200 feet smaller than what the Blauwe Loper is projected to be when fully constructed. The largest cycling bridge in the world, however, is the Xiamen Bicycle Skyway in China. The Skyway is about 4.7 miles long, and weaves throughout China’s buildings like an extended High Line.