What do you give the cyclist who has everything? In Limburg, a Dutch-speaking province of Belgium that has built extensive bike paths and bills itself as a “cycling paradise,” the answer is a bike path that makes you feel a bit like Moses.
The Cycling Through Water bike path cuts clean through a pond in surrounding Bokrijk Park, giving riders the feeling, for about a tenth of a mile, of zipping through two neatly parted seas. The contrast of the path’s straight lines amid natural features makes for a dramatic contrast. And, as the path is sunk nearly five feet, it puts cyclists eye level with the surrounding water. In summer, people enjoying Cycling Through Water may find themselves making eye contact with a duck paddling by. In winter, they have an up-close view of the sky’s reflection in the frozen pond’s glassy surface.
Opened in 2016, Cycling Through Water is part of a larger initiative to attract tourists to the region with outdoor art and world-class cycling infrastructure. While urban planners and cycling advocates in much of the world do battle with planning boards to set up bike lanes and protect them from traffic, Limburg is hatching new ways to make biking delightful, even if that means building bike paths among the treetops. As a representative of the local tourism bureau told Time, when the magazine picked the path as one of its Greatest Places of 2018, “We do not want to create more miles, we want to create better miles.”