Forbes goes Back to the Future


No hoverboard? No flying DeLorean?

Have no fear, you could be transported up Queenstown’s hills on a futuristic travelator instead if one councillor as her way.

On the day after Marty McFly arrived in the future Hill Valley, Queenstown councillor Alexa Forbes says one way to encourage sustainable commuting in the resort town would be to install moving walkways or bicycle lifts.

“If we want to get people on to bikes and on foot, we need to be able to get up Queenstown Hill and Fernhill,” she says.

“Then there’s also up from the Shotover bridge, which is another one people complain about.

“The rest of Queenstown is relatively flat.”

Forbes envisages outdoor escalators similar to the ones found elsewhere in the world - in Hong Kong, Japanese skifields and Colombia.

“There are heaps of them around the world and in some cases they work as tourist attractions.

“When I started looking for costs I found the Hong Kong one was horrendously expensive and very complicated.

“At the other end, you can buy an outdoor escalator on Ali Barber [online wholesalers] for about $10,000.”

Or, alternatively, the hills could be conquered with a Trampe bicycle lift.

It serves the Norwegian town of Trondheim and sees cyclists clip one foot into a rig similar to a magic carpet ski lift.

“It’s really simple,” she says.

On costs, Forbes says if Queenstown is to build multi-storey carparks to cope with increasing numbers of vehicles, it’ll cost $40,000 per space.

“Cars are really very last century.They’re a really bad investment and sit parked for more than 90 per cent of the time.”

The scheme is her own baby but she believes her fellow councillors could eventually get behind it.

“Absolutely. I’m the eternal optimist.”

And she knows her onions. The councillor is also a sustainability advisor at Otago Polytechnic’s Centre for Sustainable Practice.

Fittingly, she’s also a driving force behind Queenstown’s Shaping Our Future community think-tank.

Forbes says “big ideas” such as the travelators will help people focus on the future for transport in the district.

“Transport is a huge problem and a huge expense. Cycling is a tiny part of a much larger puzzle.

“If we start making things safe, people will slowly change their habits.”