Biking up a hill can be the worst. By the time you’re at the top, you have no motivation to continue the rest of the way. Many of us just give up and walk our bikes.
But one French company has a solution. In the town of Trondheim, Norway, the SKIRAIL CycloCable bike escalator transports cyclists up one of the town’s steep hills.
It works a lot like a ski lift. The cyclist presses a button, which activates the escalator. They place their right foot in a plate that runs on a drive train, which carries them up the hill. Those confused can consult the step-by-step instructions nearby. You can see an example of its use in the video above.
Design Management AS, the company behind the lift, first introduced the 130-meter-long contraption, which was then called the Trampe, to the town in 1993. The existing lift was replaced in 2012 with a new one, rebranded the CycloCable. SKIRAIL champions that up to five cyclists can use it at a time.
But don't expect this to be just a free ride for the lazy. Reps from SKIRAIL stress the CycloCable can be tiring to use if you don’t distribute your weight properly from the bike to the footplate.
While it still takes some concentration, this looks like a much less sweaty way to get to work. The next hurdle is the cost.
The company estimates it costs about 15,000 to 20,000 Norwegian kroner, or about $CDN 2,400 to $3,200 per meter, to build, which translates to $312,000 to $416,000 for a 130-metre-long track. It can be made as long as 500 meters. Whether or not this is a lot of money to spend on a bike lift is up for cities to decide, but no others have made the investment yet.
In Pittsburgh, which is notorious for its hills, the city's Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety Coordinator Stephen Patchan told CBS Pittsburgh there aren't enough people biking to make it financially viable there.
But Leif Haven from San Francisco Weekly has another take: His city's bike commuters could easily fund their own CycloCable, as many past Kickstarter projects for cool bike gear have found success.
"But the reason that we won't have elevators is the same reason that these Kickstarter things probably do work: we love buying things for ourselves, and we don't love investing in something that everybody can use."
What do you think? Would you fund a bike lift in your city? Can you think of hills that would benefit from the technology? Let us know in the comments below.