The Keystone Pipeline Solution: Hipsters and Mormons Riding Bicycles

Categories: The Environment

SWA Group
It was always the answer. What better way to pave over fears of spills and an unlocked ocean of carbon than by literally paving the soil above the Keystone XL pipeline with a bike path stretching from Canada to the Texas Gulf?

The concept, rendered in hilarious detail by the SWA Group (the design firm behind Google's corporate campus) apparently pitched the plan to the State Department this month. It's at least half tongue-in-cheek, but SWA has a track record of turning blighted landscapes into well-manicured blighted landscapes. In Houston, it transformed a foul waterway into one with shrubbery, trees and a concrete path called Buffalo Bayou.

In its vision for Keystone, a Katy Trail-style bike path cuts through the American heartland. In one frame, a woman on a Schwinn with a basket attached to the handlebars cruises above the pipeline and past sunflowers, an inexplicable herd of stray cattle and what appears to be a rail tanker full of oil in the distribution hub of Cushing, Oklahoma.

In another, a young hipster woman wearing loudly clashing patterns holds a sign reading "STOP EMINENT DOMAIN" in the shadow of what look like East Texas pines. A protestor, a la KXL Blockade, is suspended from the trees. In yet another, Mormons on bicycles pedal past dancing Native Americans and teepees.

"If it was built, how could you make it better for the population?" SWA's creative director told Bloomberg. "To us, it was ridiculous that you would go through all the effort and it would have only one use."

All told, the price tag is estimated at $400 million. SWA says state and local governments could pitch in to help pipeline company TransCanada pay for it.

Of course, this hinges on the approval of a 1,200-mile pipeline -- connecting Canada's tar-sand mines to refiners on the Texas coast. A decision is due next spring. President Barack Obama has said he won't approve the pipeline if worsens climate change.

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I see funny little helmets bobbing in a Sabine River flowing red with the blood of unwelcome cyclists.


It would be harder to hide leaks this way, it would never happen. 


Well, I can't see how this will make property owners any happier about a pipeline going through their property. It will go from "they will be disrupting the property to build the pipeline and then occasionally for maintenance" to "they will be disrupting the property to build the pipeline and then occasionally for maintenance, and having strangers traipsing through the property."

I realize that most hikers and bicyclists will not cause problems. However, the few that do will be to many for the property owners. Many people who choose to live in rural areas choose to do so because they don't want to be around a bunch of other people, Then you throw in the fact that this could cause even further restrictions on what people can do on their property, and you have even more reason for property owners to oppose the pipeline.


No solar-powered water taxis? That's bush league.


The bikes shoukd have outriggers for the rivers of oil that will be coming.


There are over a hundred thousand miles of underground oil pipelines in Texas. One more is just not a big deal. The environmental establishment is just using this one as fundraising tool.

holmantx topcommenter


If the easement obtained is underground it won't cover surface use.  Most pipelines that traverse rural lands are underground.  You don't know they are there and the landowner has full use of his (surface) land.

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