It is one of those New Year’s resolutions that somehow keeps reoccurring, year after year. It could take the form of increasing exercise, saving money, improving well being, or spending more time with family. In all cases, one technique that some mastered by the age of ten appears to be the ticket to success—cycling.
People across the world are picking up the habit. Vélib in Paris, Hangzhou in China, B-cycle in the USA, Boris Bikes in London, bike sharing is widespread. Now, more and more cities are making it simple for people to get around on two wheels.
But how easy is it to cycle in cities with significant hilly areas?
A major deterrence from cycling in such places is the effort required to cycle uphill. In Washington, D.C., the Capital Bikes program has had great success - 24,000 annual and monthly members for a total population of less than 650,000. However, most cyclists will only go downhill from the hilly areas. The bikes are then loaded on a truck and taken back uphill into secure locks.
Nevertheless, innovation is here to help the uphill cycling dilemma. There is a technological solution that can have a high up-take due to its practical, fun and “cool” factor: the Bicycle Lift.
It’s been a decade since the bicycle lift technology existed. Trondheim, Norway, hosts the world’s first (and for now the only one) cycle lift inspired by ski lift pulley principles. The Bicycle Lift was invented by Jarle Wanvik, an avid cyclist, with the help of a mechanical engineer Stein Løvold and an electrical engineer Magnar Wahl.
The system is based on a pulley and an electric motor. Powered by electricity it guarantees low noise levels, is also fully automatic and doesn’t require an on-site operator, just like a normal lift or an elevator.
Cyclists can use their personal bike or a bike-share bike as they wish. While standing astride the bicycle, with the left foot on the left pedal and the right foot on the metal footplate at the start station, the cyclists pushes the start button and is leisurely pushed uphill at 1.5 meters per second (5 ft/s). The system can handle 300 cyclists per hour and can support up to a 20 percent gradient.
Think of a roller blade with a fixed middle and horizontal front and back wheels.
A number of other solutions exist to help cyclists go uphill, including folding bicycles (to allow you to hop on a bus, tram, or train to go uphill), electric bicycles, and bicycle stairs, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. But if you want to stay on your bike and be lifted, the bicycle lift is the solution.
[Originally posted in 2014 on bdot.co.uk]