Biking is already super easy. There’s so little investment. And most people’s bikes aren’t even in top or good condition. Bikes will roll for so long before the last piece to break down actually goes ahead and breaks down. You don’t need a license, but you do need some lights. No helmet is required and neither is registration.

Buy a bike and go.

But it’s hard to go uphill, right? Fortunately, Chicago is flat. If you think there are hills, please vacation to Seattle and Portland to see what cyclists there have to deal with. The only hills we have in Chicago are bridges going over the different branches of the river, and a handful of overpasses – and these are mainly to go over railroads because Chicago’s expressways are smartly built below regular ground level.

A couple bike lifts, like this one mentioned and picture on CoolTown Studios, might be just what is needed to get half of a town’s cyclists up and over to the grocery store or music venue on the other side.

Just to quickly inform you how it works: There is a tinny escalator installed on the side of the road, but instead of steps, there are short poles. Stand over your bike with one foot on the pedal and the opposite foot on the end of the lift, waiting for a pole to show up so you can step on it (pushing it backwards) and be pulled and rolled up the hill. It’s kind of like a ski lift on a bunny hill.

The article I referenced indicates that hills are a problem for Vélib, the bike-sharing system that opened in Paris this summer. Many bikes are abandoned or returned to stations at the bottom of hills: bike renters didn’t want to pedal up and walked instead. Install some bike lifts on some strategic hills in the city and this problem could go away. This issue also presents problems for the system’s basic workings: there must be an equal distribution and flow of bikes being returned to their stations. In these cases, maintenance vans working for the bike-sharing system operator must pick up bikes overflowing at one station and drop them off at stations missing bikes – namely the stations at the tops of hills.

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