Europe’s longest heated cycle path to connect Dutch cities

1.7km Wageningen to Arnhem link to be kept snow-free by paper-plant energy

Jufferswaard: the Dutch nature reserve that western Europe’s longest heated cycle path will cut through. Photograph: gelderland.nl

Jufferswaard: the Dutch nature reserve that western Europe’s longest heated cycle path will cut through. Photograph: gelderland.nl

 

The longest heated cycle path in western Europe, and possibly the world, is set to be built in a Dutch beauty spot to keep it free of ice and snow and cut the commuting time between two of the country’s cities year round.

The 1.7km “cycle highway”, which forms part of the route linking Wageningen and Arnhem, in the east of the Netherlands, will be kept warm by residual heat from a local paper plant.

Concerns have been raised that frogs might find the warm path a little too comfortable, presenting a danger to themselves and cyclists. But Gelderland’s provincial council has promised to monitor the impact on local wildlife, which includes many water birds and beavers.

Towns across the Netherlands have been investing in heating stretches of cycle paths, but nothing on the scale being proposed in Gelderland has been constructed. Cutting through the Jufferswaard, a nature reserve near a branch of the Rhine, the two-way cycle path, which is due to be completed in time for the winter of 2019, is also likely to be one of the most idyllic.

The Jufferswaard occupies 30 hectares (75 acres) of the floodplain along a branch of the Rhine, between the Parenco paper mill, one of the area’s biggest employers, and the bridge at Heteren village, 12km southwest of Arnhem.

“Time, safety and experience”

Petra Borsboom, a spokeswoman for Gelderland council, said they believed the path would be the longest of its type in western Europe. “We don’t want to make the claim that it is the longest in the world, because there might be one in China we don’t know about.”

The new fast cycle route will shorten the riding distance between Wageningen and Arnhem by 600m. The biggest gain will be “time, safety and experience”, the council said.

Ms Borsboom said the project will be put out to tender soon. “We want to work with companies developing new techniques,” she said. Whichever firm wins the contract “will have a great influence on how they do the heating”.

The spokeswoman added: “This path is mainly for commuters. It is a beautiful protected area, and that is the reason we wanted to do this. We don’t want to use salt there to keep it snow-free.

“There was a lot of fear that frogs in the road would want to stay there, but we will follow the impact on the smaller animals very closely.” – Guardian