Here's a clever invention to help bike riders find their way at night: a glow-in-the-dark bike path made out of a material that generates its own light by absorbing the sun's rays. It's called "Starpath," and it was created by a U.K. company called Pro-Teq Surfacing.
The substance is designed to serve municipalities that are trying to cut down on their electricity bills. Since it doesn't require any source of power other than the sun, Starpath can keep things lit up at night without ongoing costs.
"Starpath works by absorbing UV rays and storing them as energy in the luminous particles," Pete Dolphin, Pro-Teq general manager, told Strombo.com via email. "As it cannot do anything with the energy it starts to glow."
The light from the path helps both riders and pedestrians navigate at night, without the need for an electric light source. The substance can be laid down over standard tarmac or concrete, and has anti-slip properties to minimize falls.
It's also fairly easy to install: Starpath is currently being used on a 140-metre stretch of pathway in a park in Cambridge. Installation took less than four hours, using paint sprayers and rollers.
As for how the team came up with the product in the first place, Dolphin says it was a matter of experimentation.
"Starpath was the result of messing around, trying different products and aggregates into our polyurethane spray system," he told Strombo.com. "We tried various things and eventually ended up with the Starpath concept."
The company hopes the product will eventually be used "to refurbish old footpaths and cycle paths" elsewhere, and it is also considering road applications.
For more on the system, check out this video demonstrating the installation, and what it looks like during the day: