Has biking gone too far in the Netherlands?

As a bike commuter living in San Francisco a few years ago, I was very impressed at the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s ability to get new bike lanes put in (increasing bike safety quite a bit), to get bicycle safety training to thousands of riders, and to lobby the city council for any number of things, from road repairs to signs to…you name it. Representing 12,000 registered and motivated voters, the coalition held tremendous sway in the city and even frequently got politicians to mount up and ride with the Coalition.

The Netherlands has always had a very strong bicycle community, but the latest program, one in which bike lanes would be heated in the wintertime (to prevent freezing/accidents), is particularly audacious. With an estimated cost at $25-50,000 per kilometer, the program involves installing pipes that would use heat stored from the summer to warm/thaw bike lanes in the winter. These pipes would have to be up to 150 feet below the surface. However, the Netherlands may see cost savings over time, as this heat is effectively free, and the salt and straw put down on roads in the wintertime right now has an ongoing materials and labor cost.

What do you think? Have you ever been a bike commuter in a wintry place and wished your bike lanes would be dry and ice free? Has it stopped you from riding in the winter?

Bike photo courtesy of Shutterstock 

Scott Cooney

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on