China’s first elevated bike lane and the world’s longest at 7.6-kilometres is the Yunding road bicycle expressway in the south-eastern province of Fujian, which is now a little over a year old.
What’s special about Xiamen’s expressway is that it is fully elevated, segregated from other traffic, and off-limits to pedestrians, electric bikes and three-wheelers. This makes it the first piece of infrastructure in China aimed solely at cyclists.
The expressway uses space below the elevated roads of Xiamen’s Bus Rapid Transport. It sits five metres above ground and has two lanes, each 2.5 metres wide. It connects numerous residential areas, important public buildings, parks and schools.
As Chinese cities embark on more bicycle expressways, it’s hoped that schemes in the US and Europe can help inform best practice. Expressways are normal in many bike-friendly cities and countries: London has Cycle Superhighways, Holland its F25 High-Speed Cycle Route, Germany the RS1 bicycle highway, and in Bogota, Colombia, there is the Juan Amarillo Greenway.
What’s clear is that the most important feature of a bicycle expressway is exclusive road rights – a physical separation from other forms of transport to avoid interference and ensure safe travel at speed.