These 3D-printed bike lanes are designed to hang underneath bridges

Like most American bridges, a protracted bridge in Rhode Island that connects the cities of Jamestown and Newport is designed just for vehicles. On a typical summer time day, it’s filled with visitors. However close by faculty college students found out a brand new conceptual design that might allow us to retrofit many car-only bridges to embrace bike and pedestrian paths underneath.

“It’s not tremendous straightforward to get to Newport except you may have a automobile,” says Liliane Wong, a professor of inside structure at Rhode Island Faculty of Design who led a category in adaptive reuse that thought of the way it is perhaps potential to redesign the bridge. Whereas some cities have added bike lanes on main bridges by taking away a lane of visitors—just like the Bay Space’s Richmond Bridge—that’s unlikely to be possible on the bridge to Newport, known as the Pell Bridge, due to heavy congestion. Excessive wind speeds would additionally make it a troublesome journey.

It additionally isn’t straightforward to add one other deck to an growing old piece of infrastructure; the Pell Bridge is greater than 50 years outdated and might’t help a lot further weight. However a crew of scholars within the class proposed 3D printing the brand new bike path from carbon fiber wrapped with a composite membrane, a fabric that’s each light-weight and robust. The deck would connect to the bridge’s current columns. Smaller bridges have been 3D printed from different supplies, together with a 3D-printed steel pedestrian bridge that was just lately put in in Amsterdam.

[Image: courtesy RISD]

The Pell Bridge is unusually lengthy—at 2.1 miles, it’s the identical size as Central Park—so the designers additionally thought of how to make it snug to stroll or journey throughout. Alongside the trail, the design consists of sheltered areas for eating places, small outlets, canine parks, and different actions. “We needed to make a motive to go there, not only a one-way avenue,” says Sofia Paez, who collaborated on the design with fellow grasp’s pupil Shuyi Guan. The shelters are additionally designed to assist defend bikers and pedestrians from the wind. At every finish, the brand new path would assist reconnect neighborhoods that have been break up in two when the bridge was first constructed, making it simpler to cross from one a part of the neighborhood to the opposite.


Although the design is conceptual and there are no plans to construct it, Wong says there’s been native curiosity within the undertaking. And an analogous thought may doubtlessly be used anyplace a bridge wants to transition to permit pedestrians and bikers. “These are adaptive reuse methods that really would work on any current bridge,” she says.