An engineering firm in the Netherlands is currently working on a method for heating bicycle paths in winter so that they remain free of snow and ridable. The municipalities of Zutphen and Utrecht, among others, are considering building such paths in the future.
The first test run of an environmentally friendly means of heating a bicycle path using ground water was successfully completed in Heino, Netherlands (province of Overijssel). Water with a temperature of about 7 degrees celsius was pumped through pipes, similar to underfloor heating. The path was able to be kept at about 3 to 4 degrees celsius and remained snow-free, despite surrounding air temperatures of -6 to -10 degrees celsius and snowfall from 7am to 6pm on the test day.
The path is heated using hoses laid into the concrete, through which water is then pumped. Available ground water in the Netherlands has an average temperature of 11 to 15 degrees celsius. The test was intended to show how much energy (and which water temperature) is required to maintain a snow-free path surface. Costs for a heated bicycle path are about 10% higher, though the energy used is relatively minimal due to the use of ground water. The snow-free paths would help prevent accidents and reduce the need for plowing or using salt in the winter.
The engineering firm, Tauw, located in Deventer is also working on a method for heating water in the summer through an asphalt collector which could then be used in winter to heat the paths. The concept is already used for heating and cooling buildings.
–From an article (in German, though there’s an informative video) on the Bicycle Portal of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development via this Dutch article from verkeersnet.nl from 01.24.2013.
Some articles and information are available on the Bicycle Portal in English.