Glow in the Dark Roads

The Netherlands is experimenting with solar powered photo-luminescent powder to light its streets, rather than traditional lighting. The goal - a Smart Highway with fewer accidents and lower costs


What Happened?

A glow-in-the-dark pavement material has been used along a road in the Netherlands in place of traditional streetlights in an effort to reduce energy consumption.

The Goal

The pavement, made up of solar-powered photo-luminescent powder, emits a shine to guide drivers safely along the road. Light absorbing materials now coat around 0.3 miles of roads in the Netherlands, and were presented to the public during the “Smart Highway” plans amid Dutch Design Week.

The goal of the “Smart Highway” program is to figure out ways to make roads more sustainable and secure using smart technology and road signs. When roadways are more adaptive to driving conditions and weather, interactive technology can be used to communicate with drivers and reduce injuries and accidents. The glow-in-the-dark pavement is charged by the sun during the day and emits its own light for up to 10 hours at night, eliminating the need for energy consuming street lights.

The glow-in-the-dark pavement is just the first stage of many potential projects engineers are testing to make roadways safer and more energy efficient. Aside from glowing road pavement, there are also talks of street art that would act as informational markers to send alerts to drivers during severe weather or in the case of adverse road conditions.

In addition, the creators of the glow-in-the-dark pavement are experimenting with incorporating wind-powered lights that will only shine when cars are nearby. A new lane might be created along energy-efficient roads that would enable electric cars to charge their batteries as they are driving. These are some of the many ideas floating around that aim to get rid of street lights while improving roadway safety.

What Else Is Happening On The Roads?

In Thomastown, Australia, local students have created artwork that not only beautify the nearby roadways but also help light up the streets at night to keep drivers safe. Thomastown collaborated with students to install an energy-efficient lighting scheme that will take the place of nearly 7,000 street lamps over the next two years.

The artwork created by the students have ben overlaid onto roadway pavement along several major streets in Thomastown. The replacement of the street lights is expected to cut the city’s electricity bills by $387,000 annually. The installations are part of the larger $2.6 million Energy Efficient Streets and Libraries Project Thomastown has deployed in an effort to increase sustainability.

Similarly, in Serbia officials have rolled out the General Urban Plan that aims to have 2.5 percent of the inhabitants of its capital city riding a bike by 2020. By implementing new street designs and encouraging the use of bicycles, the city wants to reduce its carbon footprint and reach around 100,000 bike trips made throughout the city daily.

An organization called Critical Mass also hosts common bike rides in more than 300 cities worldwide to raise awareness of the benefits of bicycling and how to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. The organization focuses its attention on cities with high pollution levels to offer guidance on immediate action that can be taken to cut back on emissions.

Take It To The Streets

Gov1 has followed several streets strategies that focus on sustainability as well as safety technologies.