How Green Energy, Van Gogh and Luminescence Are Making Roads Safer

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.

Autor*in Anna Rees, 10.10.16

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.

Smart Cities: Efficient, Sustainable, Digitised Living

Our current global environment is undergoing significant changes that have never been experienced in the history of humanity. Coupled with an increase in rural to urban migration, the need to create sustainable communities and cities is more visible than ever before. We take a look at the notion of 'Smart Cities'.

A Solar-Powered Trip from Amsterdam to Paris in 30 Minutes

When Elon Musk launched the idea of a fifth mode of transportation, Hyperloop, it was met with enthusiasm, then scepticism. Since the unveiling of Musk’s concept in 2013, a lot of progress has been made. With real-life tests in the Nevada desert and the upcoming Hyperloop Pod Competition, Musk’s design seems to be finding its way into reality.

Mapping the Safest Bicycle Route through the City

Urban planners in Montgomery County in Maryland, USA, have developed a Bicycle Stress Map that rates the “traffic stress level” of the county’s streets, paths and bike trails.

When Life Gives You Smog, Make Jewellery

Dutch design team Studio Roosegaarde created a tower that sucks pollution right out of the air, creating a clean air zone even in the most polluted cities. The residues are then turned into high-end jewellery.

SmartHalo: a Canadian Start-up Wants to Turn Every Bike into a Smart Bike

The environmental and health benefits of cycling are well-known, but road safety is often a concern for urban cyclists. SmartHalo helps cyclists keep their eyes on the road and off their phones by navigating them to their destination with simple, luminous signals on the handlebar.

All Aglow: Reflective Paint Keeps Cyclists Safe at Night

Forget about fluorescent jackets, spoke reflectors and reflective bicycle clips, soon urban cyclists’ most useful safety equipment may be something as simple as a can of paint.