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Guidelines for sustainable bicycle tourism

Aschauer, Florian; Gauster, Joachim; Hartwig, Lukas; Klementschitz, Roman; Meschik, Michael; Pfaffenbichler, Paul; Wiebke, Unbehaun

The guidelines for sustainable bicycle tourism provide a comprehensive basis for planning and improving all mobility-related infrastructure and services in connection with bicycle-tourism as the main representative of eco-tourism. A short introduction is followed by a systematic overview of bicycle based eco-tourism, covering history and trends, highlighting the benefits for local economy, nature conservation and fostering of local culture and heritage – a typical win-win situation. This chapter also describes different types of bicycle tourists and gives clues, which challenges you face in order to start a successful regional bicycle tourism initiative.

The section “Planning for different types of cyclists” introduces basic design principles, pointing out common and distinct elements for different cyclists´ needs. Vehicular speed (differences) and traffic volumes in both motorized and bicycle traffic either allow mixed traffic on a shared road space or require segregated facilities for motorized and bicycle traffic. For touristic cycling recommendations generally are in favour of segregated bicycle tracks or low-volume roads. This guarantees comfortable and safe rides away from the noise and pollution of car traffic and takes the needs of more inexperienced leisure time cyclists into account.

How to start bicycle tourism in your region?” recommends advertising and monetizing all natural beauty and regional cultural characteristics. Thematically branded touristic routes like the EuroVelo network assist in conserving regional ecosystems and heritage. At the same time, they open economic opportunities for local businesses and generate jobs. The guidelines show initial steps and recommendations to cope with the constant necessity for improvements to safeguard a leading position as a successful tourism destination.

The section “Infrastructure for high-level bicycle tourism” constitutes the middle part of the guidelines. Although it is impossible to describe all details of bicycle planning, this chapter deals with most infrastructure elements worth knowing in bicycle traffic. Starting with basic components of the infrastructure, different types of tracks are listed with their applications, organisational aspects of intersections and roundabouts are covered, and route signposting and information necessities are approached. Furthermore, aspects of bicycle parking, shelters for cyclists, lighting and maintenance are also part of this chapter. The recommendations given should enable (local) stakeholders to tackle all relevant aspects. We defined “must have” criteria to be met for good basic conditions and pointed out “nice to have” criteria for further improvements. Nevertheless, we strongly recommend seeking the advice of skilled planners, when planning, organising and implementing infrastructure. The implementation of infrastructure projects is a complex task and includes the participation of numerous stakeholders.

The section “Transport services and intermodality” approaches the questions how cyclists can reach the starting point of their bicycle tour and how they can return home after it. The principles of eco-tourism require the use of environmentally friendly modes. Hence, public transport (train and bus) must be used for the transfers to the origin and from the final destination of the bicycle tour. Changes between the different modes of transport (= intermodality) and the transport on the public vehicles must be very well organized beforehand to make cyclists feel safe and comfortable. This includes appropriate information and booking possibilities.

Bicycle rental schemes are a possibility to leave your own bicycle at home and get one for the time of your vacation. In addition, cyclists might rent an electric assisted bicycle (pedelec) and realize how much fun riding it is. We can distinguish between two rental options: Bicycles rented for longer periods from an organisation, such as a tour provider, a bike shop or the hotel you are staying at and shared bicycles. The first option is the usual way for bicycle tourists for getting along, the shared bikes are mostly located in city centres and not so much an option along touristic routes, especially because these bicycles are rather robustly built and therefore rather heavy and not very comfortable.

Accommodation and gastronomy should complement each other and inform customers about the services of the other business. Everybody must eat and drink during longer bicycle tours. Cyclists on longer tours also have to stay overnight – which is also a big chance for the local economy. It is highly recommended that enterprises in both categories aspire excellent quality and demonstrate this with approved certifications. Cyclists love it when accommodations and gastronomy spoil them with best value for money. Examples for cyclists’ needs are given, such as one-night stays, warm meals all day long etc.

The section “Marketing, communication and information” answers questions about which information is necessary to inspire bicycle tourists to come, how the product of “cycling tourism” is properly placed on the market of tourism and which success factors should be considered.

An indicator for the success of actions and policies is measuring bicycle based eco-tourism over longer periods, with permanent counts of cyclists. Surveys – such as interviews – where cyclists reveal their characteristics are helpful for the optimization of services and planning. Cyclists should also be enabled to give feedback and suggest improvements. The most important success factor of cycling tourism is permanent improvement.

Selected success stories and good practice examples are presented in their own chapter.

While short checklists for successful implementation are provided at the end of each chapter or larger subsection.

Project EcoVelotour co-funded by the European Union funds (ERDF, IPA)
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