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Focus on cycle tourism in Latvia

30.11.2016
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The Riga Cycling Conference is held annually on the last Friday of November, because this time of the year nothing else takes place! However, this is the biggest cycling conference in the Baltics and maybe in Eastern Europe, gathering 120 professionals within transport, planning and tourism. This year the topic was Cycling Tourism, and several speakers from abroad participated, invited by the Dutch Embassy. The conference was organized by The Traffic Department of Riga City Council and the Latvian Cyclists Union.

The evening before the conference, Viesturs Silenieks who is president of the Cyclists Union showed us around in Riga. The old city center is rather peaceful with few cars because of parking fees and parking restrictions. The old streets with cobble stones are fascinating among the Jugend style houses – but not so nice to cycle. However, several cycle tracks along main road and through parks makes cycling possible.

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At the conference, we were told that 30 km of cycle routes were planned to be implemented in the next years and 160 more parking facilities for cyclists. There was awareness of cycle tourism, also as a contribution to economy in the town of Riga, said Vita Jermolovica from www.LiveRiga.com

Several speakers told about cycling possibilities in Latvia, however not so much about the status of the EuroVelo routes, more information about itineraries, you can find here:

EuroVelo 10: http://velokarte.divritenis.lv/#!/id/349

EuroVelo 11: http://velokarte.divritenis.lv/#!/id/351

EuroVelo 13: http://velokarte.divritenis.lv/#!/id/350

Jens Erik Larsen from Denmark gave an international overview of experiences with cycling tourism and told about the EuroVelo project and gave advices to the authorities from Latvia on how to develop further the network of routes and how to create good cycle tourism products.

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Rein Lepik from Estonia told more detailed about signposting and map making, while Martijn Akkerman from Holland told about cycling experiences both from home and from several years in Latvia and finally using new app technology made an investigation among the participants about their bicycle use. Finally arrived Sjors van Duren to tell us about the Velo City Conference 2017 in Arnhem-Nijmegen.

The day after the conference, we cycled out of Riga to visit the Outdoor Museum, but there was not time to visit the EuroVelo 10 along the coast. According to Viesturs Silenieks there is still a lot to do, to implement signing etc. on this part of the EuroVelo Network, but hopefully this successful conference has helped to focus on the importance of infrastructure as a necessary basis for developing cycling tourism including via the EuroVelo routes.

The article was written by Jens Erik Larsen, one of our seven EuroVelo Council members.