Culture

Solar-powered cycle path is like riding on a river of stars

The inventor of the Netherlands' smart highway has created a solar-powered bicycle path with a swirling pattern inspired by Van Gogh.

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Studio Roosegarde

Although its smart highway didn't have all the features intended, the Netherlands-based Studio Roosegarde did manage to implement its most power-saving idea: glow-in-the-dark road markings.

These were crafted from road paint mixed with a photoluminescent powder that charges with sunlight during the day, staying bright for up to 10 hours once night falls. This concept, it seems, isn't just appropriate for utilitarian roads: the studio has now also applied it to a bicycle path in Eindhoven, embedding it with thousands of glowing stones in homage to Vincent Van Gogh's The Starry Night.

The Van Gogh Bicycle Path, constructed by Heijmans Infrastructure, runs for 600 metres along the Brabant site where the artist lived from 1883 and 1885. Using the company's light-emitting technology, glowing rocks have been embedded in the asphalt. During the daytime, they charge with sunlight; during the night, they glow in the darkness.

"I wanted to use something that people are familiar with and give it a twist," said designer Daan Roosegarde. "This is how you get the first kilometre of art, though one which you can actually touch."

The path has been opened as part of the international year of Van Gogh in 2015, the 125th anniversary of the artist's death, which will be commemorated with a cultural programme devised by Van Gogh Europe.