Korea’s Solar Panel-Covered Bike Highway A Model For America


In many areas of the world, bicycles are becoming the preferred method of transportation for people living within major metro areas. Places like London and Denmark have created impressive bicycle infrastructure projects to supporting this growing trend, but Korea’s solar panel-covered bicycle highway may make more sense for America’s urban sprawl.

Covering approximately 20 miles/ 32 kms between the cities of Sejong and and Daejeon, though that’s just a small slice of a proposed bike path network covering more than 217 miles/350 kms just around Sejong itself. Korea’s crowded highways have convinced many commuters to ditch four wheels and an engine for two wheels and pedals. While Europe is often praised for its support of cyclists, this Korean bike path utilizes space well on two levels; building within an oft-underutilized space (highway medians) and maximizing sustainability by adding solar panels.

There’s an even more important factor to take into consideration though, and that’s the psychological effect this bike path has on drivers. Imagine being stuck in traffic, only to see a troupe of cyclists cruise on by, looking happy and healthy while you’re stuck wasting gas and listening to the same ten K-Pop songs on the radio. Wouldn’t you rather get out of your car and join them?

There are of course some concerns, and not just the potential for an errant car to slam into the bikepath (those guardrails look pretty sturdy, but I doubt they’d stop a loaded semi-truck). My primary concern would be breathing in all those emissions during rush hour, day in and day out. Perhaps my worries are a bit overblown (or maybe not), but it is something at least worth pondering.

More to the point though, Korea’s covered bike highway is a model I can see working for the U.S., what with our many miles of unused highway medians. I’m not suggesting we put bike highways across the empty vastness of Wyoming, but connecting the suburbs with cities via bike highways could both reduce traffic congestion and encourage the citizenry to embrace a healthier lifestyle, without asking those who have to drive to give up much, if any roadway.

It could work if you ask me, but where would it work best?

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • Todd Mouth

    They have the right idea. It’s even covered and that would be important in the harsh climates we have here in the US. Unlike Korea, the corporate sponsors of our government will not allow something like this to come to fruition because we must continue consuming and buying cars, tires, oil, maintenance, etc. I think we should take it one step further an make these raised overpasses so they can soar above city streets where there currently isn’t adequate ROW for safe bike lanes as well as be shortcuts.

  • James Rowland

    Yep, solar panels should go on or over existing structures before they go anywhere else.

    Also, putting them over a roadway like this makes a lot more engineering sense than putting them under it, as one rather optimistic engineer in the US is currently trying to do.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Yes, this is a big middle finger to Solar freakin Roadways.

      In terms of practicality, this idea produces much more power over a year, without the enormous cost.

  • jburt56

    How many MW per mile?

  • LEAFican

    Perfect for powering electric cars on the motorway and electric bikes on the photovoltaic covered path.

  • zn

    Man, that is just a boss piece of infrastructure. As a cyclist, I too would worry about breathing in too many car fumes, however surely that’s all the more incentive to transition to EVs, amiright!?

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