The train used to take the paper path to the Cham paper mill. Now the railroad track has been dismantled and a footpath and bike path have been created. This comes up with a premiere. Is this what the future of our cycle paths looks like?
A new footpath and bike path has been created on the Papieriweg in Cham for 1.2 million francs.
Special feature: solar panels that generate electricity are built into the roadway.
The electricity is fed into the e-bike charging station built along the way. This is open to the public.
That's what it's about
In Cham, a new cycle path has been built for 1.4 million people. The special thing about it: solar panels in the roadway.
The electricity produced by these solar cells goes to the charging station for e-bikes that is attached to the bike path.
A balance sheet should be drawn at the earliest after one year. If this is positive, there should be more such paths in the future.
E-bikes are trendy. These need more and more routes, but also more and more electricity. The municipality of Cham is now starting a pilot project with which both problems are to be solved at once. A footpath and bike path have been created along the old track that led to the paper mill in Cham. A special innovation: two solar panels that produce electricity have been incorporated into the roadway. There have already been such projects abroad, but it is a novelty for Switzerland.
Drin Alaj, Head of Traffic and Safety in the Cham municipal council, says: “We wanted to go forward with courage, dare to experiment and see whether it works.” That is why the municipality decided to start this pilot project. The municipality of Cham has been awarded the Energy City label since 2001, and since last year the municipality has even been one of the five best municipalities in the field of energy, according to the municipal council. The new cycle path is well received in Cham: “When we discussed the project in the Transport Commission, it met with great enthusiasm.”
Electricity flows into the community's e-bikes
“It is an attempt to use the area of the path not only for running and cycling, but also to generate electricity,” explains project manager Antonio Milone. That is why the decision was made to install the panels in the street. The electricity produced by these solar cells goes to the charging station for e-bikes that is attached directly to the Veloweg. “If there is too much power from the panels, it goes into a battery. If there is still too much electricity, we feed it into the school building right next to the path, ”says Milone. If the electricity were not enough, there would be a feed-in from the power grid. “However, the tests have shown that the solar energy is sufficient to operate the charging station.”
The old paper track was an obvious choice for the project, as the path was already being built. There is also a historical reference: “At the time, the paper train also ran on a battery. We have now projected that into modern times, ”says Milone. Instead of flowing into a locomotive, the electricity now flows into the community's e-bikes. The safety of the cyclists is also taken care of, as Milone says: «The plates are not slippery even when they are wet.»
If you are successful, there will be more such paths
The path, which will officially open on December 14, costs around 1.2 million francs. The solar panels only make up a small part of the costs. According to Alaj, they cost around 50,000 francs. The Federal Office of Energy will also support the project in Cham, but the scope of this is still unclear. The municipality will take stock of the project in a year at the earliest. For Alaj, other such cycle paths are not only conceivable, but desirable. But: «Depending on the experiences we have made with the paper path, we will check whether such paths will also be possible at other locations in the future.»
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