When we recently showed an elevator designed for pedestrians and cyclists, readers were not impressed, calling it serious overkill when all that was needed to get up the hill was a decent path with switchbacks. This may be true for the serious cyclist, but for the average commuter cyclist or older rider, hills can be a real impediment.
One city in Norway dealt with this problem with the Trampe, a sort of ski lift for cyclists. Trondheim first installed it in 1993 and rebuilt it with a newer, supposedly safer system called the CycloCable in 2013. Diehards may say that this kind of thing isn't necessary, but 41% of the users in Trondheim say they are bicycling more because of it.
The Trondheim lift is 130 meters long (420 feet) and climbs an 18% grade; the distributors of the patented system say it can be as long as 500 meters or 1,640 feet.
Its functionality is reminiscent of that of a ski lift. It consists of a wire rope with 11 foot plates attached to the rope. At the starting point, there is an accelerator (kind of piston) to make the start easier. The foot plate takes over the cyclist after the accelerator. When leaving the foot plate it vanishes into the rail housing.
It is simple to use, and there have been no serious injuries since it opened. Here's what you do:
While standing astride the bicycle, put your left foot on the left pedal. Furthermore, place your right foot in the start slot of the start station. Stretch your right leg backwards determinedly while still keeping your right foot in the start slot. Remember, you are preparing for the coming push from the soft start mechanism.
This is very clever; as in a high speed chair lift, there is a mechanism to let it start slowly and built up to speed instead of hitting you with a jerk. It then carries you on your way in comfort and style without working up a sweat.
From now on, the lift will carry you – the bicycle is there merely for a means of support. It is essential that you move the weight of your body from the bike to the start slot. To be sure this is done properly you should not be sitting on your bike seat. Stand up in your bike. After having experienced a few takes, you should get accustomed to the lift movements, and you may try to take on to your seat.
A lot of cities could use this thing.
In Toronto, I live at the top of an escarpment, the old shoreline of Lake Iroquois from 13,000 years ago. You can see Scott Pilgrim walking down the hill in the photo above. It's a serious schlep on a bike and is a big impediment to commuter cycling; Toronto could use a Trampe Cyclocable.