Emulsa Fire's House of Fire

Telefericos – A Transportation Technology Made for Seattle


A key challenge for transportation in general in Seattle, and alternatives to the car in particular, is to provide easy ways to get up and down the cities many hills and over the breaks in the street grid that result from hills, greenbelts, rivers, canals, freeways, rail yards, etc.  Seattle has more of these barriers than just about any city in the US.  Luckily, there is a transit mode that turns these challenging conditions into an asset – the teleferico.

Take a moment to think about the bicycle.  In recent years New York, DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago have been able to leap to the front of US bicycling.  Their investments in bicycle infrastructure have been particularly effective because they leverage the ease of bicycle travel on their flat terrain and connected street grid.  Seattle can still grow its use of the bicycle a lot, which is still low by global standards, but due to its hilly terrain, it will likely never again be the bicycle leader of the US. 

In contrast, Seattle should have every reason to expect to be the teleferico capital of North America. Soaring over cliffs, forest and water, ignoring the obstacles faced by cars, bikes, pedestrians, and surface transit modes alike at a fraction of the cost of underground or elevated rail, offering breathtaking views along the way, the teleferico is the bicycle of the hilly, disconnected city.

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Crisis = Danger + Opportunity

The world we knew as recently as yesterday is as dead as though it had died a century ago…. Many people nevertheless long for a return to what used to be…. [However] unless we constantly peer forward into the future we will not see the many opportunities the future holds, we will fail to grasp them and the end will be tragedy.

Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals