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Starry Night Solar Bike Path (Netherlands)

Credits: ©2014 Robin Rogers / Solaripedia

A unique illuminated bike path glows in the dark using thousands of twinkling stones that feature glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LED lights. Inspired by Van Gogh’s "Starry Night" painting, artist Daan Roosegaarde teamed up with Heijmans Infrastructure to create the 1-kilometer-long Van Gogh-Roosegaarde cycle path in the city of Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The luminous stones are charged during the day by sunlight and emit light at night, forming different patterns on the track which are more visible in the dark. The interactive cycle path is 600 meters long extending into the region of Eindhoven where Van Gogh lived from 1883 to 1885. The path gets its luminescence from 50,000 glow-in-the-dark stones embedded in the ground. The stones soak up the sun's power by day, and then release it at night, resulting in thousands of glowing fragments that are meant to look like the stars in the famous painting. The path is also dotted by LED lights, which enhance the path's visibility on days when the weather might prevent the stones from fully charging.


Solar Bike Path 3

Starry Night Bike Path in the Netherlands uses glow-in-the-dark technology and solar-powered LED lights to light the way on this 600-meter trail in Eindhoven. ©2014 Daan Roosegaarde

The solar bike path is part of Van Gogh 2015, a year-long celebration of cultural events across France, Belgium and the Netherlands. It is also part of the Van Gogh Cycle Route in the province of North Brabant, and is free and open to the public year-round. The entire route is 335 kilometers (208 miles) and divided into five individual round trips, which can each be cycled in a day and connect several van Gogh heritage locations in North Brabant, where the artist was born and raised. The world-famous Dutch artist produced his first masterpiece here -- The Potato Eaters in Nuenen, as well as the Opwettense and Colse watermills featured in his paintings -- the new cycle path will link the two watermills.

Roosegaarde and construction-services business Heijmans have also collaborated on a series of "Smart Highways," a concept that combines light, energy and road signs that react according to the present traffic situation.

Video and website

Five Questions for Roosgaarde
By Heijmans, Contractor for Construction of the Solar Bike Path 

Van Gogh and a bicycle path: quite an usual combination? Not to me. I have always created landscapes using art and technology, such as 'Dune' in the Maas Tunnel, dance floors that generate energy or smart highways in collaboration with Heijmans. Here in Nuenen we have taken an element from the past (Van Gogh in 1883) and an element from the future (energy-neutral landscapes) to create a landscape that is both functional and imaginative. It's about the connection: that is what brings it to life.

The design clearly refers to the painting 'The Starry Night'. Why this painting? It is the most characteristic Van Gogh's painting. I wanted to use something that people are familiar with and give it a twist. Updating Van Gogh. This is how you get the first kilometre of art, though one which you can actually touch. I have just returned from Tokyo, as the Japanese minister of culture saw it online. He is so enthusiastic about it that he would like to commission something similar for the Olympic Games in 2020. And so it continues.

What was the greatest challenge when designing the bicycle path? To allow the organic nature of the pattern to survive, while everything was manufactured by machinery. The construction business often thinks in terms of kilometres, but the design world thinks in millimetres. This was subject to refinement. Since it is also a vulnerable area of flora and fauna, we had to create a softly glowing bicycle path. Bright lighting was out of the question. It is fantastic that the region of Brabant has given this type of daring project a chance.

So you conducted plenty of tests and made prototypes? Yes, lots of one-on-one testing to determine the right swerve and sense of light. You can animate anything on a computer, but you only see the reality of it when you make prototypes. In the end, we had hundreds of metres of unique models cut by laser to ensure that the design was conveyed correctly. This lead to many consultations with the designers at Studio Roosegaarde and the professionals at Heijmans. The result speaks for itself.

What are your expectations of the bicycle path now that it has finally been completed? That it gives cyclists an amazingly poetic experience. That Van Gogh comes to life again. That it is a place where people arrange to meet on their first date.

There’s also a solar bike path in Amsterdam (see article linked below).


  SolaRoad Article (in Dutch) (305 kb)

  Solar Bike Path Amsterdam article 2014 (409 kb)

  Amsterdam Solar Bike Path article 2014 (335 kb)


Studio Roosegaarde (The Netherlands)