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Transport / Mass transit

Norway contains the world's only bike escalator, and it is excellent

Cycling’s great – it’s cheap, healthy, and environmentally friendly. But unless you’re a masochist, cycling gets rapidly less great when you’re faced with a giant hill.

That’s why it’s a little surprising that cycling escalators aren’t more common. The first was installed in Trondheim, Norway in 1993. And, as far as we can tell, it’s still the only one in the world.

The escalator, originally known as the “Trampe” but recently renovated and relaunched as the “Cyclocable”, can pull up to five cyclists at a time up the city’s 150m long Brubakken Hill. It can also pull along skateboards and other wheeled objects.

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Image: Jonas Ahrentorp via Flickr.

The system actually connects to the cyclist’s foot, not their bike: users place one foot on a shelf connected to the system’s conveyor belt, which then drags both bike and rider up the hill.

Here’s a video of the escalator in action:

The escalator travels at around 5 mph, which has led some cyclists to complain that it’s “too slow” and they’d be able to cycle up the steep hill faster without mechanical aid (good luck). Others on the Cyclechat forum have complained that using a cycle escalator is not really in the spirit of the exercise. One cyclist commented:

I think that’s cheating… nothing wrong with getting off and walking.

According to Slate’s Atlas Obscura blog, bike escalator systems cost between $2,400 and $3,200 a yard (about £1300-£1900 per metre) to construct, which may be why they haven’t caught on elsewhere. But motorways cost around £17,000 a yard and are way less fun – so bring on the bike escalators, we say.
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