Let’s face it: when it comes to cycling, a good, hard climb isn’t for everybody. And in very, very few places is that more true than on the steep, thigh-grinding grades of the streets of North Vancouver.
For that reason, some city officials have been considering a “bike lift,” similar to one already in operation in Norway.
The plan, as tabled, was first put forward back in 2010. Over the summer — July, to be specific — the city instructed officials to study the idea’s feasibility, asking for a report that details the costs and benefits of a system like Trondheim’s in North Vancouver. Not unlike a ski lift, it would pull riders — and their bikes — uphill, after a cyclist puts one foot inside what’s called a “footplate.” The result: a gentle, aided uphill trip, and for those less inclined to tackle a hard ride, a whole lot of convenience.
Earlier this week, the City voted on the idea, or at least its details in so far as working officially with the team that built Trondheim’s lift. On Monday, council voted 4-3 in favour with continuing that relationship — which means that, though it officially passed the first climb, the idea still has a bit more grade of its own to tackle.
Opponents of the idea on city council balked at the lift’s cost — estimated to run between $2,400 to $3,200 per meter — while others said that more traditional, less mechanical bike options are a better way forward. For the plan’s supporters, though, it’s yet another way to encourage people to get on bikes, noting that not everyone in the saddle, especially in a city on two wheels like Vancouver, has the same strength as others.
North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto, notably, is one of them.
“It’s very effective in Trondheim,” Mussatto told city council as reported by the North Shore News, after returning from a visit to view the Norwegian version of the idea. Beyond local residents, he said, the plan also benefits tourists, contributing to the overall objectives of bike tourism itself — a priority for Lower Mainland, B.C. communities, including Vancouver. Its best feature, though, is how the proposed idea promotes inclusivity in active living, getting everyone — “not just diehard Olympic-type cyclists, they fly up the hill,” Mussatto said — out and riding.
“How do we get people out of cars and [using] other types of transportation?” he asked, something that notably includes cycling. “I think this is a very tangible way to do that.”
Further reports, the City of North Vancouver stated, will need to consider regulatory and safety concerns, among other issues.