A sprint up the hill
Mumbai, Lisbon, Madrid, San Francisco – what do all of these cities have in common? Well, they all claim to be built on hills - seven to be exact (according to Wikipedia). For quite a huge chunk of society hills pose a serious mobility threat. Yes, you can always get in your car and enjoy how it effortlessly pulls you up the ascent. But many sporty people want to get exercise and experience the city when commuting to work, right? There’s an innovative lift that could turn around cycling in hilly cities.
Put the pedal to the floor
Europe may have many challenges to tackle at the moment, but none of them could prove to be so vital for the continent’s future than this one: dealing with population aging. Take Germany, for instance, where nearly 30% of the population will be older than sixty by 2060. There is a need to provide an urban environment that promotes physical activity – for everyone. Any new technology must be supportive, absolutely safe, and seamlessly fit into the existing infrastructure. And here it is: the bicycle lift CycloCable. Invented in 1993 in Trondheim, Norway, the CycloCable entered market production last year in 2013. It is a third pedal constructed into the ground that electrically runs on its own lane parallel to the cycling path. As you arrive at the bottom of the hill, you simply put your right foot onto this pedal and remain (standing) on your bicycle with your left foot (check out this video). Once you’re at the top, simply continue your bicycle trip. The lift reaches a top speed of two metres per second, which is fast enough because more than one person can use the lift at a given time (requiring more pedals, however). By now, the prototype in Trondheim has supported more than 200,000 cyclists up the 130 metre long hill without ever experiencing any crashes, accidents or other problems.
Brilliance results from the construction of the technology being placed below the street surface. It’s hardly visible and doesn’t hinder other traffic participants from crossing the tiny rail, so it’s very space efficient. In cities that love cycling like Amsterdam, Copenhagen or, well, Trondheim such an idea will find great acceptance. Many cities, however, might first need to find reasons to support cycling in general. Once the basics are in place like normal cycling paths, ideas like the CycloCable may be considered as well. Yet, a city like Dallas, Texas – one of the least bicycle friendly cities in the world – will not invest in electrically driven hill escalators for cyclers, simply because there are no cyclers in Dallas. Keeping the population fit is important so this could prove to be an important invention.