Solving Urban Transportation’s Last-Mile Problem

City Monitor‘s article on Vigo, Spain’s recently installed moving walks came at an opportune time. Covered in this month’s issue of ELEVATOR WORLD, the Project of the Year winner “Mechanical Ramp of Gran Via Vigo” saw thyssenkrupp Elevadores S.L.U. install six top-of-the-line moving walks to transport up to 7,300 people/h. The rest of the story, it seems, include six more new outdoor moving walks, with a further dozen to come this year.

One of the six other escalators not mentioned in the EW Project of the Year 2021-winning article “Mechanical Ramp of Gran Via Vigo”

The article offers an interesting history of public escalators and elevators, which it calls “the most popular daily form of mass transit, used by over a billion people each day.” With more and more heavy-duty outdoor vertical-transportation equipment, Vigo is fast becoming a model for accessible urban last-mile excellence.

Vigo has playfully colorful public elevators, too.

Looking Ahead to 2021

I’ve been seeing a lot of optimism for 2021 lately, with vaccines beginning to be distributed and a nightmarish year coming to a close. As we celebrate the holidays, it’s a good time to think of and thank those working on the front lines of the pandemic.

KONE’s story of its technicians working overtime to help turn a Hubei, China, medical center into a 1,000-bed hospital in 48 h for COVID-19 patients was an early example of what so many in our industry did in 2020 to help the healthcare workers who sacrificed so much to care for those who fell ill. In the technicians’ case, they overcame many difficulties to prepare 18 of the elevators in the facility for handover within 24 h. One, Gao Wei, had some good advice for any year: “The secret was to focus on tackling problems rather than letting your emotions take control. That’s all.”

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Technicians worked through difficult conditions in restrictive suits to get the hospital’s elevators ready for handover.

An Award-Winning Hobby Project

The Campbell River Mirror recently reported on a real winner. 77-year-old Bob Higgins built an elevator in his home a several years ago over the course of six months. Higgins, a retired machinist, millwright, welder, power engineer and supervisor with more than 50 years of experience, lives in Crofton, Canada, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. This year, he brought the Metal Supermarkets Metal My Way Contest international award to his idyllic home isle.

Though he says “It’s never been used” because he and his wife “don’t need it” in their two-story home, the elevator is a well-thought-out project they may highly value someday. Higgins explained, “When we built the house, I had them build the shaft. We want to stay here till we go out feet first. If you become disabled, it’s hard to go up and down the stairs.” Higgins did all the design, engineering, welding, steel fabrication, machining, installation and wiring himself. An electrician did the final hook-up. The screw-type elevator can lift 800 lb and reaches the end of its travel in a little more than 2 min. Higgins added a provision to manually release the motor brake and crank the car by hand (for power outages), and the car includes a phone line and emergency lighting.

Check out the picture of Higgins below and more from the source. And, speaking of award-winning projects, be sure to check out EW’s Project of the Year 2021 winners in our January issue!

With the elevator on the lower floor, more of Bob Higgins’ expertise in building it can be seen. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Bob Higgins with his elevator at the bottom landing; photo by Don Bodger