Bridgette Meinhold

Flying Bicycle Lane Lets You Soar Above Traffic

by , 01/14/10
filed under: Green Transportation

sustainable design, green transportation, kolelinia, alternative transportation, martin angelov, bike commuting, flying bike lane, bicycle infrastructure

Bike commuting is a beautiful thing – it’s an efficient, quick way to get around an urban area and it’s great for your heart. Only problem is those pesky cars that are continually getting in the way! What if you could have your own bicycle traffic lane completely separate from the cars and safely out of their way? Martin Angelov, a Bulgarian architect, came up with this incredible concept for urban bicycle transportation – a bike lane in the sky that he calls “Kolelinia”. It looks a lot like a tightrope contraption, but this fairly sophisticated design is meant to handle commuting bikes on a steel wire high above traffic to connect popular destinations.

sustainable design, green transportation, kolelinia, alternative transportation, martin angelov, bike commuting, flying bike lane, bicycle infrastructure

Angelov’s Kolelinia system consists of a series of towers connected by steel wires with a U-shaped rim. The connectors and wires operate in a similar way to a ski lift, except without using electricity. Bicyclists ride up to entrance and put their bike tires into the U-shaped rim and attach their specialized handle to the safety wire. Then they ride across just as though they were riding on pavement. At least that’s how it works in theory. Kolelinia aims to create a new type of transportation experience, and can be installed using a minimal amount of resources.

Angelov’s idea was selected as the City Transportation winner in the “Line of Site” international architecture competition last year, so there are people out there who are interested in the project. Angelov was also asked to speak about the project at Sofia’s TED Conference recently.

You may be concerned about the safety of the cyclist and wondering if this system is even possible. Who knows, but if it is possible, how amazing would it be to ride high above all the cars, zooming along as though you were flying. The only problem would be getting stuck behind a slow rider and not being able to pass them.

+ Kolelinia

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14 Comments

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  3. D. Alan Stewart January 23, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    This could be cheap way to build a bicycle bridge across obstacles like rivers and major highways. In major cities there are plenty of streets that deadend at such an obstacles. Many of these would be great for cyclists and pedestrians if there were a bridge to the other side. I think more structure than two cables would be required, though. Maybe a safety net underneath?

  4. Martin8r January 19, 2010 at 8:44 am

    I doubt the designer has ever ridden a bike.

    Issues:

    – the already mentioned problem of overtaking a slower rider.
    – ever try to just ride on that White line on the shoulder. Bikes don’t naturally ride in a straight line. (just look at your tire tracks after going through a puddle)
    – don’t drop your water bottle
    – don’t inhale the car fumes from the cars you are riding over (especially those trucks)
    – “I want to go that way, not this way”
    – Wind ( Imagine how much that thing would move/sway)
    – can it handle varying tire widths?
    – bike collisions

    Imagine how much more car drivers would hate cyclists when one falls onto their car.

  5. faslanyc January 18, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    related idea, though more sophisticated and practical in it’s application, I think:
    http://urbanomnibus.net/2010/01/off-the-road-and-into-the-skies/

  6. colluvial January 17, 2010 at 8:54 am

    As I read this article, I had to check my calendar. It isn’t even close to April Fools Day. Looks like a great play structure (like a zip line), but there are massive safety issues. Forget the slow cyclist. What if your bike malfunctions and won’t go any further (flat tire, chain problems, etc.). Doesn’t look like you, or everybody behind you, can get off or turn around until the next stop. Emergency evacuation by fire ladder truck?

  7. schiltec January 16, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Cool look but cycling includes the necessity and joy of balancing by subtle steering adjustments which are hard to make in a steel tyre channel but, as Androo points out, need a road. The right of access to transport surface is fundamental to the discussion of urban transport. An advanced Light Rail system has eleven times more capacity than a lane of motor car traffic ( 7,900 per hour against 700 per h). Road space should not be hogged by motorists but shared with tram and bicyclists. The high capacity advanced tram system is Waverail http://www.waverail.ch.

  8. sherrybikes January 15, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    I would find this a challenge. I’m short, so my handlebars probably wouldn’t sit high enough. I’m afraid of heights. And riding in a climbing harness cannot possibly be comfortable. How about we give the streets to the bikes and make the cars drive around in underground tunnels?

  9. Crosius January 14, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    As a cyclist, I’d object to carrying a safety harness and cable around with me just in case I want to cross traffic. I also wouldn’t want to wear that harness for my whole ride. I’d prefer to leave the climbing gear at home and use the surface streets like all the other vehicles do.

    I also find that my tires try to climb near-vertical things they contact (like curbs), so I’m not sure it would be easy to keep a bike balanced and centered in the bottom of that narrow u-channel. Even if it works, it would be noisy and increase the wear on the tire sidewalls. It seems like there would be a significant learning curve to using this system, and little or no opportunity to learn the skills in a low-risk scenario. If you think getting caught behind a slow cyclist would suck, consider getting stuck behind one dangling from his harness and holding on to his bike after it’s jumped out of the channel.

    In order for bicycles to be useful as transportation, and not just “sporting equipment,” we need to eliminate obstacles to their use. Making a trip by bike even more exotic is not the way to do that.

  10. Crosius January 14, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    Also, am I to understand from these illustrations that the cyclist has to wear a climbing harness in case of slips/falls? So as a commuter I’d have to wear an extra bit of specialized equipment, (and tote a cable around, too) when I went out on my bike just in case I wanted to _cross a road_?

    Thanks, but I’ll leave my climbing gear at home and use the surface streets like all the _other_ vehicles do.

  11. andyt January 14, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Androo, you took the words right out of my mouth. The best solutions aren’t going to be sexy skyways, as much fun as they would be. But really, what would you rather read/dream about, biking over top of cars or the chemical engineering minutiae that might give us badass batteries?

  12. Androo January 14, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Or, you know, instead of putting in a whole new kind of infrastructure with questionable practicality and safety, we could just dedicate a small fraction of the available road space to alternative transportation.

    As much fun as being a designer is, I think there really needs to be a more concerted systems approach (i.e. thinking of urban planning, not just product).

  13. martinangelov January 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

    A proposal by Orlin Tenchev for how to deal with the problem of overtaking http://kolelinia.com/en/?page_id=66

  14. bugmenot January 14, 2010 at 8:59 am

    I’d be concerned about getting stuck behind a slow cyclist. Cool idea otherwise, though!

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