Glow-in-the-dark road lanes, wind-powered roadside lights and an illuminated bike path inspired by one of the most famous paintings in the world: take a look at the Smart Highway project’s cutting-edge approach to road safety and sustainability.
Proper visibility at night can play a major role in driver and cyclist safety. In the case of cycling, a paper presented the International Cycling Safety Conference in 2013 found that although only 10 per cent of bike rides take place at night, in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria about 20 per cent of fatal bicycle accidents occur during nighttime due to a variety of factors, including poor visibility and lighting.
The design wizards at Studio Roosegaarde teamed up with building company Heijmans in the Netherlands to bring to life ‘Smart Highway’, an initiative that looks to make travel by road safer, more interactive and sustainable.
Paint Your Pathway Blue and Green
Smart Highway, which launched in 2013, uses technology that adapts to and responds to people and traffic. Specifically, the project employs light-collecting paint, energy (particularly wind), LED lights and more to create cues that assist drivers and cyclists during less-than-optimal conditions (i.e. at night or bad weather) and promote safety.
The most visually stunning component of the Smart Highway project is the Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bike path, an illuminated trail with thousands of twinkling stones embedded in it. Designed to help cyclists navigate in the dark, the path is lit by LED lights (that are powered by solar panels that charge during the day) and a light-collecting coating. The path stretches along 600 metres of the Van Gogh bicycling route in Eindhoven and was inspired by the painter’s iconic painting The Starry Night. The result is a breathtaking interaction between art, practicality and safety.
Another component sees a trio of grooves running along a stretch of the N39 road in Oss, the Netherlands and filled with a luminescent gel that glows at night. Dubbed Glowing Lines, these ersatz road lanes increase visibility for drivers, even in foggy conditions. The team behind Smart Highway also aims to use paint that reacts to temperature to indicate when roads are slippery due to ice. Further Smart Highway components in the pipeline include a priority lane for electric vehicles and roadside lights that are powered by wind and sensor technology.
Studio Roosegaarde’s design concepts look at how to strengthen the relationship between people and their surroundings, analysing and enhancing interaction between humans, architecture and technology. They’re the team behind the Smog Free Tower, a vertical structure that sucks polluting particles out of the air and uses the carbon residue to make jewellery.
The Smart Highway concept won ‘Best Future Concept’ at the 2012 Dutch Design Awards and is 2013 winner of the INDEX Award, the world’s biggest design award.
Learn more about Studio Roosegaarde’s work and the Smart Highway project by heading to their website.