BMW imagines elevated tubes for speedy, comfortable ebike commutes

For residents of most major cities, it’s no fun riding a bicycle through the busy streets. As if all the fumes from the passing cars, buses, and trucks isn’t enough to be dealing with, you have to have your wits about you the entire time to avoid ending up underneath one of the aforementioned vehicles.

While some of the world’s cities have made a real effort to cater for cyclists — Copenhagen in Denmark always springs to mind, or Portland and Minneapolis in the U.S. — many don’t have the space, funding, or even interest in making life easier for those who prefer two wheels to four.

If BMW had its way, things would be different — very different — for city cyclists.

The German automaker’s growing interest in ebikes has led it to explore solutions for those who prefer to scoot about town sitting on a saddle, or perhaps standing on a scooter or skateboard.

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It proposes a network of elevated bike paths inside tubes specifically for people on ebikes and other mobility machines relying on electric power. BMW calls its concept Vision E3 Way, which stands for elevated, electric, and efficient.

You may have already come across elevated bike paths on your travels, but BMW’s design would be enclosed to protect cyclists from rain, and also climate-controlled to ensure a comfortable environment through freezing winters and sticky summers. In addition, a solar-paneled roof would generate power for the network’s night lighting and climate control system.

Designed by BMW’s technology unit in Shanghai, China, the network of enclosed bike paths could provide “a fast, direct link between key traffic hubs” in the world’s megacities.

BMW suggests that car owners without bikes could be encouraged to leave their vehicles at home with the implementation of rental stations at multiple locations throughout the network.

“As urbanization progresses, more and more people are crowding into cities, so conventional mobility concepts and local public transportation are reaching the limits of their capability,” BMW said in a release this week. “Congestion and high levels of air pollution are the result, which in turn leads to constraints on the quality of life.”

It added that Vision E3 Way could help to raise the outdoor comfort levels of a city’s residents as it would “significantly reduce congestion, emissions, travel time, and the risk of accidents.”

Vision E3 Way would require some serious investment and forward-thinking officials to build such a network, but with pollution on the rise in major cities and the streets becoming ever more clogged with traffic, a modern, clean, and comfortable system for owners of ebikes and similar modes of transportation would surely be a hit.