Have you ever dreamed of biking from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico but been frustrated by the lack of dedicated bike lanes for the cross-country trip? Neither have we, but an architectural design firm has a $400 million plan to meet this desire you never knew you had, while boosting the appeal of a controversial energy infrastructure project. The idea, as Bloomberg reports, is to build a bike path alongside the proposed Keystone XL pipeline:
The creative director for the SWA Group, an Houston-based architectural firm that designed Google Inc.’s corporate campus, says building the lane along Keystone’s path through the country’s mid-section could turn what is now a source of rancor into a tourist attraction.The firm sent a letter Oct. 17 pitching the plan to the State Department and TransCanada Corp., the pipeline’s sponsor. Its illustrations show scenes of smiling bicyclists riding over buried pipe and by a farmer’s market, Native American teepees, cows, sunflower fields—and a protester in a tree.
So far, the design firm is the only one excited about the plan. For greens, the bike path would be seen as capitulating to the extraction of Alberta’s tar sands oil. A spokesman for TransCanada, the company that would build the pipeline if President Obama approves it, is skeptical of the plan’s logistics: “To make sure we can maintain or access the pipeline, permanent structures couldn’t be built in the easement…We do not own the land that the pipeline easement is for.”But there could be a knock-on benefit of having a steady stream of cyclists traveling Keystone’s route that greens and TransCanada are ignoring: volunteer leak detectors.Mount up, cyclists![Bike path image courtesy of Shutterstock]