Countries around the world are developing clever infrastructure ideas that augment their legacy infrastructure and add considerable value for local residents.
Whether it’s reducing harmful waste production or generating renewable energy, these innovations keep the transport industry moving forward and improving.
We would like to share some of the most clever infrastructure ideas from around the globe with you.
Solar Cycle Paths
Kicking off in 2014, a pilot project in the Netherlands saw solar panels installed underneath bicycle paths so that the paths themselves could generate solar power.
Six months after installation, the solar panels were outperforming the project’s estimated energy threshold of 70 kWh per square metre annually.
The company behind the project has started to offer solar panel cycle path kits to help other municipalities to follow suit and launch their own solar bike paths
Is the lack of charging points putting you off investing in an electric car? Cities are now installing electric conductivity to roadways so electric cars can charge themselves while you drive.
The process relies on inductive charging, in which an induction coil within the car harnesses power from an electromagnetic field.
This year the world’s first electric road opened in Sweden with trials conducted in Israel and France too.
Despite the high installation cost, electric roads have the potential to increase electric vehicle use in municipal bus lines. Imagine a fleet of electric buses running continuously with no need to charge and zero carbon emissions. Thanks to electric roads, it may happen sooner than you think!
Calls to reduce our plastic waste are rife and Toby McCartney, a UK engineer, has developed a groundbreaking solution.
He has designed a process whereby the oil-soaked asphalt traditionally used in roadways is substituted with plastic pellets captured from plastic bottle waste.
It took more than 500 different tests to come up with the perfect mix of polymers to create plastic roadways. The plastic improves the longevity of the road by a factor of 10 and makes them 60% stronger than asphalt roads.
Oil is still used to bind the roadway but the plastic pellets require far less than asphalt, resulting in a greener roadway that makes great use of excess plastic waste!
The engineer’s surprising inspiration for this clever infrastructure idea was an encounter with Indian villagers who he observed melting plastic to fill in potholes in their roads.
Cycle networks — connected bike paths help cyclists commute — are nothing new yet they are growing in popularity across the world.
Quebec’s Route Verte crosses the province, delivering 4,000 miles of bike paths and right-of-way roads. Belgium offers the Vlaanderen Fietsroute and the Flemish Cycle Route, which traverses roads and paths, many of which are closed to car traffic.
Investing in cycle networks helps countries to promote recreation and makes it easy for residents to go car-free when commuting to work or running errands.
Studies show that cycling to and from work improves employee health and wellness whilst lowering carbon emissions at the same time.
Countries with popular cycle networks additionally receive an economic boost by attracting active travellers.
Smart lighting may not strike you as an example of clever infrastructure until you consider the negative impact that darkness can have on communities.
When streets are dark, citizens may fear venturing outside due to the fear of the unknown lurking in the poor lighting.
A study conducted in New York City housing projects revealed that investments in lighting decreased crime by 39% and two-thirds of housing residents approved of the new lighting.
Smart lighting systems also decrease energy costs since they use energy-efficient LED bulbs. A smart lighting initiative in Chicago, which will replace 270,000 streetlights with LED lights, is projected to save $10 million over four years.
As these clever infrastructure advancements demonstrate, there are so many ways to incorporate sustainable materials, renewable energy and public safety improvements into new infrastructure projects.
These are but a few examples of leading-edge infrastructure projects worldwide. We can’t wait to see what the next wave of technological innovations brings!