Work on Europe’s longest cycling bridge kicks off in the Netherlands

Magic Carpet Ride

Work on Europe’s longest cycling bridge kicks off in the Netherlands

When complete, an impressive new wooden bridge for bikes and pedestrians in the Dutch province of Groningen will stretch over 2,600 feet. (Nol Molenaar, NOL Adviesbureau/Courtesy Provincie Groningen )

In the far northeastern reaches of the Netherlands, construction has commenced on what’s being touted as the longest bicycle and pedestrian bridge in Europe. At over 2,600 feet long, the bridge will snatch the title from a 2,480-foot-long bridge in Sölvesborg, Sweden, when work wraps up in the Groningen province at the end of this year.

Dubbed Blauwe Loper, or Blue Carpet, the wooden structure with a 2.5 percent gradient will technically be a series of four interconnected bridges spanning a large lake, a canal, a nature reserve, and a busy highway. The section over the canal will be moveable. And, as reports, there are plans to stretch the bridge even further—up to over 3,000 feet—in the future.

With a price tag topping $7 million dollars, this ambitious work of car-eschewing infrastructure will connect the city of Winschoten with Blauwestad, a bucolic residential development-turned-lakeside recreational area, in its initial phase.

The two areas are a “stone’s throw from each other, but there is now no direct connection between the two for pedestrians and cyclists,” reads a special section dedicated to the bridge on a promotional website for  Blauwestad. “Functioning like a vast boardwalk,” the Blue Carpet will link the two locales and serve as a “sustainable icon” for the region.

As the Guardian reports, one of the top design considerations for the bridge was bat-friendliness, very much a priority in the realm of Dutch bike and ped bridge construction. Blue Carpet will be painted “bat-friendly” green and outfitted with solar-powered LEDs as a method of helping bat colonies navigate from Oldambtmeer lake to a nearby public park.

Blue Carpet’s builders claim that the bridge, built from resilient imported African hardwood, will last at least 80 years.

“This bridge is not going to rot,” the Guardian quoted project leader Reinder Lanting as telling local daily newspaper Dagblad van het Noorden. “That is because it is technically well designed. The wood is not pressed together but has a sort of venting system.”

The bridge was designed by NOL, a local multidisciplinary civil engineering and design firm.

Matters of length aside (China still rules in that department), the bike-loving Netherlands is home to a large number of notable bridges reserved for bike and foot traffic. They include and certainly aren’t limited to, Nescio Bridge, a curvy, single-cable steel suspension bridge in Amsterdam designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects and engineered by ARUP: Grontmij, a modest bike bridge in the village of Gemert that, in a world-first, harnesses 3D printing technology: Eindhoven’s Hovenring, a first-of-its-kind suspended bike roundabout that’s technically a circular cable-stayed bridge, and a span in Utrecht that’s incorporated into the rooftop garden of a Montessori school.