Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ideas for long distance cycling in Europe

EV-Routes

The initiative of the ECF (European Cycling Federation) to connect bicycle routes across Europe seemed like a very good idea, but fails due to a lack of work being done in a timely manner. If you open the website of EuroVelo, you can look at the routes through Europe. Let me tell you that it looks really amazing. Criss-cross through the continent on a bike. Wow!

Open this URL.

Bikemap euro long distance
Look at this map! Isn't it great to live in Europe?

"Not realised" or "Planned"; what does it mean?

After clicking on EuroVelo Route 4 symbol, I ended up on another screen thereupon that showed me a disappointing sight. Notice how everything is either not realised or planned. I'd estimate 15 % of the entire route being realised. The worst thing is that I know that parts of EV4 actually have good bicycle paths. A cyclist on my Google+ page informed me through a comment that it was a shame that I did not take the route from Köln to Koblenz, as it is quite beautiful. Just to inform you: I came through the Eifel region in stead of Köln, but a cyclist recommending this route means that it is in a good state. Another part that I know of is the route from Wiesbaden/Mainz to Frankfurt. I have actually cycled this track and the path was really, really nice. I thoroughly enjoyed this route - with the exception of the pinch flat before reaching Frankfurt.
ECF EuroVelo outdated
Why do they even have this on their website? You have a route from Oostende to Breda or Eindhoven and a path along the French coast. That makes up a really small portion of the actual route. A lot of routes have cycling lanes and local sign posts. Why is it not realised?

biking through europe cycling map
A few days ago, I looked up this track and know for sure that there is a bicycle route here. It is called the 'Donauradweg'. It goes from Regensburg to Vienna and even further. I have no idea why that is not realised as of now.
I can only explain the lack of routes being realised because:
  1. There are bike paths but ECF never tested these tracks.
  2. Maybe some bureaucrats are stalling the process.
  3. The website is outdated.
  4. Nobody cares about these paths. People will still cycle long distances using national sources.

Alternatives and solutions

Alternatives to planning a long distance tour using the EV-Routes

Alternatives to the EV-routes are unfortunately on a national level. The countries where I've used the resources with regards to long distance cycling have only been available in the native language. This means that I'd either have to use a translation service or guess my way through the site. Sometimes there were alternatives for tourists but these sites were altered slightly (eg. no long distance routes and route planning tool provided).

I am currently making tutorials for planning a cycling route through a specific country. At this point, I've only made the tutorials for Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. I'll make more in the future.

Solutions on a European scale

Things need to be changed to let the EV-routes become as good as they look.

What I think needs to be done:
  1. The EV routes have to be realised in full.
  2. Data of all EU nations relating to bicycle paths have to be gathered
  3. Using this data, it is possible to update the map of EuroVelo and realise the routes
  4. Ofcourse these routes have to be cycled and signs have to be put up
  5. The EV routes have to be reviewed and tested as well. Bikers who take these routes must have a place to give feedback. If there actually was a forum on http://www.eurovelo.org/forums/, it would be possible to give feedback/suggestions.
  6. After realising the EV map and putting up the signs along all routes, I think it is a good idea to make a route-planner on a European level (much like the Dutch site).
Let me explain some of the points made. The stretches of unrealised route HAVE actual bicycle paths. If there are paths, then the only thing missing would be a sign, some approval or the update on the website. Why would that drain so much sources?

The second point speaks for itself. Should the ECF have the data with regards to the bicycle paths of all countries (where EV runs through), realising these routes should be easy. These EV routes have to be cycled by actual cyclists and there should be a possibility to give feedback to ECF.

The last point made deserves some extra attention. Please open the following website: http://www.nederlandfietsland.nl/fietsrouteplanner . It is super detailed bicycle map with a neat function: you can find routes from and to any point in the Netherlands. I know what you are thinking: "on a European level this would be ridiculous." That is certainly true but what if the route planning tool on supranational level only evaluates long distance routes? It would make it possible to make a trip from London to Vienna even though there is no EV route going there.

Look at the picture and you will understand:
EuroVelo Routeplanner
The distance here is really incredible. You'll need a lot of time to cover this route.

Anyway, it would be nice to be able to combine various EV-routes through a route planning tool. You can also add functions like estimated time, distance, altitude, calories burned, etc.

If you have some good alternatives, feel free to contact me. I will put em on my site.


UPDATE CLICK HERE TO READ MORE. Good ECF alternative found.

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