This one goes out to all the city cyclists who have pulled up to the bottom of a steep-ass 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]