The 800-metre Blauwe Loper will only be accessible to cyclists, pedestrians – and bats
Daniel Boffey Wed 4 Mar 2020 18.28 GMT
Construction has started in the Netherlands on what will be Europe’s longest bridge for cyclists and pedestrians – stretching over a lake, canal, motorway and nature reserve – to connect a new village to its closest town.
The so-called “Blue carpet bridge”, or Blauwe Loper, will be 800 metres long, but there are plans to ultimately extend it to 1km in length. The first phase is scheduled for completion by next Christmas.
The €6.5m (£5.6m) bridge, which rises at a comfortable 2.5% gradient at its steepest, will connect Winschoten, in Groningen province, with Blauwestad, a new village being built on reclaimed land.
The bridge will only be accessible to cyclists and pedestrians – and bats. Its LED lighting has been designed to assist the creatures in finding their way from the nearby nature reserve to the Oldambtmeer lake. The bridge will also be painted in “bat-friendly” green.
The bridge has been designed to last for at least 80 years despite being made from wood, which was sourced from Gabon in Central Africa.
Reinder Lanting, a project leader told the Dagblad van het Noorden, a regional daily: “We think we can stretch it to a kilometre by connecting it to the main street in Blauwestad.
“This bridge is not going to rot. That is because it is technically well designed. The wood is not pressed together but has a sort of venting system.”
Local dignitaries joined an event to watch the laying of the concrete foundations of the bridge. The Dutch cycling embassy, a government-funded agency, tweeted: “The province of Groningen has started construction on the €6.5m, 800-metre Blauwe Loper … When completed in late 2020, it will be the longest bicycle bridge in Europe.”
The Blauwe Loper will surpass Europe’s current longest cyclists’ bridge, which is in Sölvesborg, southern Sweden. The 756-metre bridge extends across Sölvesborg Bay.
Both bridges are dwarfed, however, by the Xiamen Bicycle Skyway in China. Developed by the Danish design firm Dissing + Weitling, it is 7.6km long. The firm’s previous projects include the Bicycle Snake — a 230-metre bridge in Copenhagen.