In its first century as a company, BMW has built industrial engines, motorcycles, Steve Urkel’s Isetta, and a whole lot of cars. Now, it wants to build something altogether new: an elevated motorcycle path.
This week, the automaker’s somewhat redundantly named Research, New Technology, Innovations division, based in Mountain View, Tokyo, and Seoul, disclosed its idea of constructing a network of motorcycle lanes above street level. It’s called the E3 Way–that’ s for elevated, electric, and efficient–and BMW says it could help growing cities everywhere fight congestion and ease emissions by making cycling a safer, more convenient, and thus more popular way to get around.
Conceived with help from the School of Automotive Survey and College of Design and Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai, this network “wouldve been” reserved for electric bikes and two-wheelers( like the BMW Motorrad X2 City, a battery-powered scooter ), and it would have a velocity limit of 15.5 mph. If you’re wondering why regular, human-powered bikes don’t seem welcome–well, BMW doesn’t induce those.
Like a well-designed highway, the E3 Way would feature ramps and sluice systems to handle merging. Video surveillance and artificial intelligence would monitor the flow of traffic, because what kind of future would it be without constant surveillance and AI? Most of the network will have a roof( no worries about rainy days ), and a “cooling system with purified rainwater[ that] makes pleasant temperatures, ” whatever that means. It’s a lovely vision: Instead of doing battle with vehicles and pedestrians and whatever else on the street, cyclists get their own safe haven, where they can zoom along, stopping merely to pity the poor folks below.
That’s all well and good, but even for a notion, BMW is amazingly cavalier about what it takes to build infrastructure on this scale. “The best thing is that its modular design and free scalability induce the concept basically suitable for use in any megacity, ” the company declares in a press release. “The elevated road is simple and modular in design,[ and] economical to build as a result.”