Germany has built the first 5km stretch of what could become a 100km cycling highway in its northwest Ruhr region.
If completed, the "cyclebahn" will connect 10 towns including Duisburg, Bochum and Hamm, as well as four universities.
Some 2 million people live within 2km of the bicycle-only route, and it has been estimated that it could take 50,000 cars off the streets every day.
Building highways in cities is a life-threatening recipe from the 1960s. No one wants more cars in cities– Burkhard Stork, ADFC manager director
The road is 4m wide, comes with overtaking lanes and lighting, and will be cleared of snow in winter.
The 5km track was half funded by the European Union, with the North Rhine-Westphalia state contributing 30%, and development group RVR investing 20%.
Talks are continuing to fund the full 100km project, which has a $200m budget.
Martin Toennes of RVR said: "Without (state) support, the project would have no chance."
The German Cyclists’ Federation (ADFC) says that 10% of journeys in the country are taken by bicycle and appropriate funding should be given to cyclists.
Burkhard Stork, ADFC’s manager director, said: "Building highways in cities is a life-threatening recipe from the 1960s. No one wants more cars in cities."
Image: A bicycle lane (iStock)