The city of Trondheim in Norway is the first and only one in the world to have a lift specially designed to help cyclists travel uphill. The contraption is called ‘Trampe’ and it can get you up a very steep hill with practically no effort on your part.
Trampe was first opened in 1993, and quickly turned Trondheim into a very popular tourist destination for cyclists. Over 200,000 cyclists have used it to go up a 130-meter hill, with no accidents reported so far. In 2012, the original lift was dismantled and replaced with a more industrialized version in 2013, called the CycloCable.
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.
Once your foot is in place, the launcher at the start station will give you a gentle nudge to accelerate from zero to 1.5 meters per second. The lift can take you to up as fast as 2 meters per second. It can handle a maximum of 300 cyclists per hour, is designed to support inclines of up to 18 percent grade and can extend as long as 1,640 ft.
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.
Die hard cycling fans might look down upon the system as an easy way out, but on the other hand, it could encourage more people to take up cycling as a sport. According to a survey conducted in Trondheim in 2007, 41 percent of residents were biking more often because of the lift.
Installing the CycloCable in a new city is no easy task – it costs as much as a new bike lane and it requires an elaborate process of pilot demos, securing funding, engineering analysis and other legislative steps.
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.
Photos: POMA Group