A bike lift pioneered in Norway would pull struggling cyclists up the steep incline of The Mound in Edinburgh under plans for new cycleways unveiled today.
The novel machinery is part of a new cycle route between the Meadows and the city centre which has been shortlisted for millions of pounds of Scottish Government funding.
It is one of five segregated cycle path schemes in the running for the award.
Ministers see them as vital for encouraging more people to cycle by separating bikes from other traffic.
Another project in west Edinburgh and others in Glasgow, Stirling and Inverness are competing for the Community Links PLUS award.
The winner is due to be announced in late summer.
The five finalists will receive £40,000 each to completed detailed proposals, which are expected to be to a far higher standard than existing routes, such as several in Glasgow.
The bike lift will be part of a route along Forrest Road, George IV Bridge, The Mound and Hanover Street in the New Town.
It would be modelled on a device in the Norwegian city of Trondheim, in which cyclists put one foot on a bar which is carried uphill along the side of the road.
The Trondheim bike lift was opened in 1993 as the first in the world.
Edinburgh City Council transport convener Lesley Hinds said: “Proposals for enhancing cycle and walking access between the Meadows and George Street are still at a very early stage and the feasibility of various options remains uncertain for this project.
"A ‘Trondheim-style lift’ is an innovative facility which could potentially be considered to help cyclists climb the relatively steep gradient up the Mound.”
Lothian cycle campaign group Spokes was sceptical of the idea.
Spokesman Ian Maxwell said: "An electric bike would be a better bet for people who have problems cycling up hills.
"They would be able to deal with every hill in Edinburgh, not just one.
"A bike lift could become a tourist attraction in its own right, but there are more important priorities for cycle spending."
The city's other entry would link Roseburn with Edinburgh Park and the Gyle on the western edge of the city, featuring a "mini Holland" approach to reduce car domination.
The Glasgow project is a segregated cycle route between St George’s Road at Charing Cross on the western edge of the city centre and the Forth and Clyde Canal to the north.
Stirling plans a route along Cowane Street north from the city centre to Stirling Bridge, linking with routes to Raploch, Cornton, Causewayhead, Bridge of Allan and the University of Stirling.
There would also be a pedestrian and cycle-friendly lanes from King’s Park into and through the city centre from the west along Dumbarton Road/Albert Place, Wellgreen and Upper Craigs.
In Inverness, improvements would be made to an east-west cycle corridor in Millburn Road; Academy Street and the Raigmore interchange.
Last year’s winner, Glasgow City Council’s £6.5 million, two-mile South City Way, which is due to connect Queen's Park with the Merchant City in the city centre next year, received £3.25 million.
Sustrans has hailed it as Scotland's “most ambitious street improvement project”.
Transport minister Humza Yousaf has said he remains committed to the Scottish Government's "vision” of 10 per cent of journeys by bike by 2020, with a special focus on urban areas where cycling is often already higher than the 2 per cent national average.
He said: “I am pleased to see local authorities have again put forward very ambitious projects which will help to create a step change in conditions for walking and cycling that communities can all benefit from.
Daisy Narayanan, deputy director for built environment at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the extremely high quality of entries .
"These proposals are exemplary in their understanding of the need to improve our streets for the well-being of everyone.
"Critically, local authorities across Scotland have shown they are keen to enable access for pedestrians and cyclists of all abilities.
"The country is embracing the health and economic benefits of a modal shift in how we design our streets and roads.”
Neil Greig, the Scotland-based policy and research director of motoring group IAM RoadSmart said: We have always supported investment in high-quality segregated transport facilities based on established success in countries such as Holland.
"It must be remembered, however, that the Dutch not only invest in separate cycle facilities, but also in high-quality public transport and motorways to bypass large towns and cities.
"Simply trying to shift cars away from city centres by making access more difficult will not work without additional investment elsewhere.”
Philip Gomm, a spokesman for the RAC Foundation, said: “Promoting active travel [cycling and walking] whilst protecting the mobility needs of all is the holy grail of transport planning.
"Any reallocation of road space brings costs and benefits, and it is important there are no unintended consequences such as moving air quality problems from one area where car use is to be constrained to other areas where it is not.”