This one goes out to all the city cyclists who have pulled up to the bottom of a steep-arse hill with three words echoing through their head: Oh. Hell. No. The Norwegian city of Trondheim built a special bike-lift that gives folks with wheels a free ride, no pedaling required.
The clever installation has actually been around for over two decades (!) now; Trampe, the original, was set up in 1993, but was replaced last year by a new, patented CycloCable design. It works similarly to a ski-lift, with a bit of escalator thrown in for good measure.
Basically, a wire rope with 11 attached foot plates runs the length of the 426-foot incline; at the bottom, a piston gives you an accelerated start, and, at the top, the plates disappear back into the rail housing. All told, about 300 people an hour can get an assist -- not bad at all!
Purists might decry the contraption as bicycle blasphemy, but I could see this encouraging more residents to take to the road; if this urban mountain was smack-dab in the middle of your commute and all of a sudden there was a simple way to scale it, that would be reason enough to get back on the saddle.
While I can think of a ton of unmanageable San Francisco roads this could completely transform, I can't quite picture one adjacent to a super-busy, car-thronged thoroughfare. But the concept is cool, and apart from a little kiosk at the beginning, refreshingly -- surprisingly! -- unobtrusive. It will be interesting to see if more places begin to integrate it, or something like it, into the urban fabric. [TreeHugger]