VIsoEST Project meeting on marking the cycling routes Vidzeme Tourism Association, in cooperation with South Estonian municipalities continues to implement the Estonian-Latvian cross-border project VIsoEST by bike.
On 23rd and 24th of September, 2009 in Sigulda a thematical meet ing was held on marking the cycling routes. Tourism specialists participated from Latvia and Estonia, as well as there were specialists assigned to help with a practical experience.
Rein Lepik, president of the Estonian cycling club, informed the participants abput the best practices on marking the cycling routes in Europe.
Cycling tourism recently has become more and more popular throughout the World, and especially in Europe and after the introduction of EuroVelo strategy in 1995, the attitude toward cycling tourism has changed substantially.
Several European countries had already their own cycling routes before the EuroVelo idea, but the countries that joined the EU recently had to start to think of their own ideas, as well as connect the routes between different countries.In order to increase the number of cycling tourists, an essential part is the marking of the routes. Although there are marked cycling routes in different countries, no single marking has been implemented yet, therefore the best practice is to look at the experience of the other countries. In Latvia so far there has been no single policy for marking the cycling routes. Several different approaches have been used in projects in Latgale, Vidzeme and national parks. Only in some places in Latvia near Kuldīga and Gulbene, the signs are set-up according to the Latvian Standard of road signs.
Cycling route signs in Estonia
Almost unnoticeable sign in Switzerland
Too much signs in Switzerland
Unreadable sings in Switzerland
Source: All pictures from Rein Lepiks presentation, Sigulda, 24.09.2009
In the conference it was discussed that it is important that the signs are set on the right side of the road, in appropriate height, they should be easy to understand and notice and would clearly depict the cycling route, It is also recommended that the signs are mounted on the existing road sign constructions, therefore decreasing the risk of damage.
Martin Nelis from Tartu municipality, introduced the audience with the cycling route marking experience in Estonia. In Estonia there are various standards in place (EVS 613:2001/A1:2008 Traffic signs. Application, EVS 614:2008 Traffic markings - Application, EVS 843:2003 Town streets), that regulates the setting up of the signs. In Tartu city each year almost 2-3 km on new cycling routes are being introduced and 10km each year are refurbished.
Cycling route infrastructure in Tartu, Estonia
Source: Martin Neliss presentation, Sigulda, 24.09.2009
Mr. Māris Zaļaiskalns, representative from VAS Latvian state roads in his presentation introduced the audience with the existing standards of the signs as well as the possible solution.
Cycling route markings, according to the Latvian standard
Source: Mr. Māris Zaļaiskalns presentation, Sigulda, 24.09.2009
Ms. Inga Barinska from Gulbene tourism information centre gave a short review on a project in Gulbene in 2002, when several routes were marked with the road signs, according to the Latvian standard.
Mr. Ēriks Andžāns from Gauja National Park administration in his presentation introduced the audience with the current experience and problems Gauja National Park is facing, and what could be done to prevent those problems.
Cycling route in Gauja National Park, Latvia
Source: Presentation by Mr. Ēriks Andžāns, Sigulda, 24.09.2009
At the end of the conference Mr. Rein Lepik organized practical training on how to choose the best signs on different locations crossroads, turns etc., and how to set up signs so that they are clearly visible, and do not cause any confusion.
In terms of the project it is planned to set up 1077 signs (459 in Latvia and 618 in Estonia), 61 information stands with map (36 in Latvia and 25 is Estonia), as well as to set up the parking places and places to relax.
According to the Estonian experience, Vidzeme Tourism Association is planning to in initiate the numeration of cycling sign in Latvia, to promote and develop the cycling tourism as well as to create more friendly atmosphere for the tourists.
The next meeting will take place in Taagepera, Estonia on October 29, 2009. Everyone is welcome to participate!
The aim of the project VIsoEST by bike is to promote the common region of Vidzeme and South Estonia in European tourism market. The project will create a connecting cycling route between Vidzeme and South Estonia, and create a sustainable partnership between public and private sectors.
Planned cycling route in Vidzeme and South Estonia
The total budget of the project is EUR 1 787 338,98 (national co-financing 15%), and the project will be implemented from April 1, 2009 till September 30, 2010
Prepared by: Raitis Sijāts, Head of the Board, Vidzeme Tourism Accosiation