To make the possibility of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline running through your hometown more favorable, an architecture firm has proposed adding a bike path as a tourist attraction. On October 17, SWA Group submitted the plan to the State Department and TransCanada, which features artist renditions of what the pipeline path would look like. Even though SWA Group is apparently neutral on the pipeline, other images of the path show farmers, Native Americans, and protesters surrounded by an idyllic field of flowers on top of buried pipelines. In the image above, several cyclists even appear to be steering right off the edge of a cliff.
Though anti-Keystone XL activists called the idea ridiculous, SWA principal Kinder Baumgardner considers it a serious proposal that can be worked into congressional legislation. Admitting that the pipeline’s surroundings won’t be “beautiful, useful, or necessarily safe,” Baumgardner told Fast Company this spring it’s “time to set a precedent for imagining infrastructure that folds into the reality of our everyday lives.”
TransCanada, however, has no interest in the plan.
A spokesman told Business Week that permanent structures can’t be built near or in the pipeline’s path in order to ensure TransCanada’s access, even though the spokesman said in the same statement it does “not own the land.” In Nebraska, activists have used the permanent structures in the pipeline’s path as a legal tactic, by building a renewable energy-powered barn across the proposed route, for instance.
But even if the company were on board, it wouldn’t be so simple as building a tourist attraction to rescue the local towns from Keystone XL. Tar sand spills are already a reality in Canada and at crude-carrying pipelines.