To get people on their bikes and keep them riding, season in, season out, five provinces in east Poland joined forces to create a new cycle super highway – 2000km of safe, segregated bike paths linking transport hubs, meandering through scenic landscapes and providing easy access to historic monuments. The route needed to provide a good quality ride along its length. And some sections proved problematic: one remote 21km stretch had to be constructed on weak soil and through areas with high groundwater. Getting construction equipment and materials in looked challenging.
Conventional highways design thinking was left on the shelf as we devised a solution that would be easily transportable, cost-effective and environment friendly. By mixing powder cement into the ground we could create a sort of 'in situ concrete' that was durable and waterproof, even in the most challenging areas. Better still, repeated use of the path would increase the stiffness of the new surface, making it virtually maintenance-free for years to come. With zero impact on groundwater flow or quality, and vegetation and wildlife immediately bordering the route remaining undisturbed thanks to the lack of heavy construction vehicles, the scheme's eco credentials were unimpeachable.
Bike trips have soared as locals and visitors alike explore areas of natural beauty and visit the route's 477 tourist attractions for the first time. It is reckoned that Green Velo has created 830 new jobs. It is so popular, with traffic and pollution reduction benefits, that there is now talk of extending the path to other areas.