Car-maker BMW has floated a futuristic proposal to get e-bike riders out of the way of cars and up into the sky. This is latest of many similar, non-street fantasies of the future from pie-in-the-sky theorists.
Billed as "simple and effective" but forgetting "expensive", the BMW Vision E3 Way would be for e-bike riders, but not self-powered cyclists, apparently. (The three E’s stand for "elevated", "electric" and "efficient".)
The concept was developed at the BMW Group Technology Office in Shanghai. According to BMW the idea consists of an "elevated road concept for electrically powered two-wheel vehicles which links key traffic hubs in urban conurbations."
And it was "explicitly conceived for locally emission-free single-track mobility concepts only ("electric"), such as e-bikes, the BMW Motorrad Concept Link and the recently presented BMW Motorrad X2 City [scooter]."
Dr. Markus Seidel, Director BMW Group Technology Office China, said: "The BMW Vision E³ Way opens up a whole new dimension of mobility in overcrowded conurbations – efficient, convenient and safe. It works by simply creating space for two-wheel zero-emissions traffiic."
The concept was co-designed by professors from the School of Automotive Studies at the Tongji University in Shanghai.
"Ramps and sluice systems" would be used to "connect the BMW Vision E³ Way to the regular road network, underground stations, other traffic hubs, and even shopping malls," continues the company’s press release.
"By shifting single-track mobility to its own spatial level, the BMW Vision E³ Way makes daily commuting not just faster but safer, too … The outstanding feature of the BMW Vision E³ Way concept is that it takes existing emission-free mobility solutions on two wheels such as e-bikes … and places them on a new traffic level: this means the vision can be realised quickly and without the need for additional space… And the best thing is that its modular design and free scalability make the concept essentially suitable for use in any megacity."
Such skyways-for-cyclists have been mooted many times before. In January 2014, architect Norman Foster unveiled a plan for a network of aerial cycleways in London, called SkyCycle. Seven years previously Jamie Tomkins – son of Mr Crud – theorised "cycling pipes" high above the streets.
Copenhagen’s “Cykelsangen” (Danish for “cycle snake”) and the Hovenring of Eindhoven show that some elevated cycleways can work, but they are expensive and have to have long and low-angled ramps to enable cyclists to get on and off them.