Bicycling is a cheap and healthy way to get around, but a steep hill can become a casual cyclist’s Achilles’ heel. Luckily, the Norwegian city of Trondheim has a solution to this problem – a bike escalator.
Invented in the 90’s by a commuter who grew tired of showing up to work sweaty and exhausted, the Trampe lift, recently upgraded and reinvented as the CycloCable, has already carried over 200,000 bicyclists up this 150m-long cyclist deterrent. The curious escalator has become a tourist magnet as well.
CycloCable is very similar to a ski lift in terms of functionality. The device is seamlessly integrated into the road, with the design structure placed just below the street surface for a safer experience. To use CycloCable, all you need to do is punch in your keycard into a special slot and push the green button at the start station. Then you wait for the footplate; once it arrives, you stand up on your bike and put your right foot on the metal plate and shift your body weight onto the right leg.
Cyclists who place one foot on the escalator’s angled platform will be pushed uphill at a speed of 5mph. Up to 5 people can use it simultaneously and it is not limited to bicycles, as it can carry basically any small wheeled transport with its owner, be it a kid with scooter or a mother with a baby stroller.
While Trondheim is the first place in the world to have its very own Cyclocable, the French company that invented the system – POMA Group – is keen to introduce it to other cities. Many cities in Europe, Asia and North America have expressed interest, but POMA would like to test the CycloCable’s stability for another season before they decide to expand.
Installing this invention is obviously a great way to boost cycling in hilly cities, but they’ll have to be quite busy – one meter of this elevator costs 2,000-3,000$.
Meanwhile, in Trondheim, tourists are welcome to try out the CycloCable by renting bicycles and keycards. If the videos are any indication though, CycloCable ride looks a bit uncomfortable to use (with all your weight on one side), and extremely slow. On the other hand, it does save you the trouble of pedaling uphill, so I can understand why many cyclists, and even pedestrians with strollers, would want something like this in their cities.