Chutes and Ladders

If you haven’t seen it already, you should check out VW’s fantastic site, The Fun Theory, a website “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.”

I have a Fun Theory idea that could be applicable in cities like Lausanne, San Francisco, and Seattle. Their common factor – hills! And surprisingly, they are all great walking cities. However, I know at least in Lausanne (with an elevation difference in 1,640 ft in an area of only 7.2 developed sq mi!) it is nearly impossible even for fit people to walk from the southernmost/lowest part of the city to the northernmost/highest part. And in San Francisco, it can be exhausting to even get groceries from a couple blocks away should your grocer be down one of SF’s notoriously steep hills from your residence. This encourages people to use public transportation like busses or tramways to travel even short distances.

Wouldn’t it be a great advantage (and great fun) to have a slide and pulley system on the steepest walking streets in town?

We have seen slides installed in various subways and even one super long one in rural Japan, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one installed as a way to get down a steep walking hill quicker. Nor have I ever seen an uphill version (which, when you think about it, would be even more practical). What about a system like a snowless t-bar lift that would use skateboards instead of the simple cross-bars on a revolving line? People could pay 25 or 50c per trip uphill to account for the operational cost.

I realize this is a bit of a pipe dream, but the kid in me loves the idea of finding a way to enjoy something as dull as making my way to the train station in the morning or lugging my groceries back uphill.

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About Erin Eby

Art director and general design junkie.
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