Researchers in bicycle-mad Netherlands have come up with a novel way to get more cyclists out during the harsh winter months while also lowering the number of injuries: heated bike paths.
"The idea is to install a system under bike paths to prevent ice forming in winter," engineer Marcel Boerefijn from the Tauw engineering consultancy told AFP.
Several Dutch municipalities have already expressed interest in the system that uses geothermal energy drawn from 30-50 metres (100-160 feet) below ground.
While the idea would cost 20,000-40,000 euros (25,000-50,000 dollars) per kilometre of bike path, of which the Netherlands has over 35,000 kilometres, Boerefijn prefers to vaunt the pragmatic side of the plan.
"There would be lots of savings: less salt to melt the ice, less medical costs because of accidents and fewer car expenses because people would rather travel by bike," he said, citing a figure of 7,000 bike path accidents a year.
The eastern Dutch town of Zutphen, population 40,000, is awaiting the results of a preliminary assessment expected early next year before embarking on a feasibility study at a municipal level.
The Netherlands has an estimated 18 million bicycles for a population of around 16.5 million.