Since February, the Danish Cyclists’ Federation and about 70 bicycle-keen volunteers have been working on merging map data and local landmarks. Now, the route planner is here.
By Nicolaj Willemoes, Danish Cyclists’ Federation
Check the weather report for the next couple of weeks
Call the train station and ask about timetables and stops
Check with Peter: is the beach he mentioned good for the kids?
Where can we find a nice restaurant close to the camping ground?
IMPORTANT: Find campsites and hostels and and and and….
This was once the checklist before a family went on a cycling holiday in Denmark
Only for those in the know
The Danes are avid cyclists – at least as a daily means of transport. But apart from a group of hardcore bicycle enthusiasts, who also use the two-wheeler during vacations, recreational cycling is a lot less widespread.
A substantial part of the explanation can be found in the fact that the necessary information about routes, gear, and accommodation has been difficult to find. And when you have finally found it, you have to combine information from a number of different websites in order to plan your trip.
There hasn’t been one collective site, and thus few people have been able to navigate in this rather diffuse landscape. It has quite simply been too difficult to be a bicycle tourist in Denmark.
It has to be easier – NOW
And it has to be markedly easier if we are to attract the tourists – both Danish and the foreign ones.
“We will see bicycle tourism exploding,” predicted Minister for Transport (Liberals), Hans Christian Schmidt earlier this year in the newsletter, Cykelviden.
He also encouraged the municipalities and the tourist organisations to sit down together and decide how best to better the facilities already there.
“But it is also about simply making it easier for the cyclists to plan their vacation,” says Claus Rex, Head of Tourism at the Danish Cyclists’ Federation.
He and webmaster Michael Hammel are at the head of the development of a new digital cycle-route planner that has been available at cyclistic.dk since June this year – although in a limited edition.
“The idea is to have a high-quality and nationwide tool that can easily show the cyclists the best routes that combine nature, accommodation, sights, and bicycle repair shops – if the bike needs a little extra love and care on the way,” he explains.
In other words, Cyclistic is to replace the old-fashioned guidebooks that used to gather the most important information. The guidebooks were easy to carry with you – but details regarding campsites, ferry crossings, child-friendly routes, etc., often proved to be outdated when you needed them.
An internet-based gateway like Cyclistic can be continuously updated so you can depend on it. Right now, the development is still under way, but Michael Hammel estimates that it is about halfway there, and that the gateway will be complete and fully functional before the spring season begins in 2012.
In Switzerland, bicycle tourists have a similar tool called schweizmobil.ch at their disposal, which has been a huge success.
“The Swiss example has made it easy to bring the bicycle on your vacation and easy to combine exercise with cultural sights and experiences of nature. It has really set the bicycle wheels in motion,” Claus Rex says.
“And now, we are doing the same thing, and there is no doubt that there is a huge potential – especially among the German bicycle tourists.”