Did you know that two European bicycle routes – EuroVelo 6 and EuroVelo 13 – run through Serbia?
The first route is 4,400km long and it connects the French town of Nantes to the Romanian port of Constanta, while the other one links the Barents Sea to the Black Sea and is 10,400km long.
Although these two corridors are on the map of Europe, Serbia does not use them enough, mostly due to inadequate infrastructure and poor tracking equipment.
Close to 15,000 cyclists annually use the two routes in Serbia, but this number could be significantly higher. Investments in basic cycling infrastructure are not huge, because cyclists don’t need much – just a marked track and a proper resting place. The problem with Serbia is that it has not built any new tracks, and has not come up with solutions that would ensure better safety for cyclists especially at towns’ entrances and exits.
According to Vladimir Curcic, from the Bajsologija Assocation, the aforementioned two cycling corridors do exist in theory, but not in practice since they are not properly marked and there is no accompanying infrastructure. For instance, cyclists who use the EuroVelo 6 route (from Subotica to Novi Sad) are mostly riding on motorways.
“These are not cycling routes,and there is no other infrastructure, accommodation capacities along the tracks, or required traffic signs”, says Curcic and adds that Serbia does not have what other European bicycle corridors have.
The EuroVelo 6 enters Serbia near Backi Breg, goes through Novi Sad, across Fruska Gora and then to Belgrade. Smederevo is the next important stop on this route which then stretches towards Romania, passing through the Djerdap National Park and the Djerdap Gorge.
The Serbian segment of the EuroVelo 13 route is somewhat longer, and stretches along the state border with Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.
The Republic of Serbia’s Tourism Development Strategy 2016-2025 entails activities like improving the tourist infrastructure and superstructure (construction and development of cycling tracks and other routes, installing tourist signs, building visitor centres and camps, and developing beaches). The Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications says that, in the last five years, they have been successfully improving the traffic signs on the EuroVelo 6 route with the help of the Danube Competence Centre and German organization GIZ. In 2016, the Ministry also put up traffic signs along the EuroVelo 13 route.
“An important step in developing cycling routes is that we now have the first bus line solely for transporting bicycles and their owners. In cooperation with the transport company Ariva Litas from Pozarevac, the Danube Competence Centre has provided a bicycle carrier that can transport five bicycles at once. The bus operates daily on the Belgrade-Kladovo route and provides easy transfer of cyclists to all key Danube destinations located between these two destinations, i.e. Pozarevac, Veliko Gradiste, Golubac, Donji Milanovac and Kladovo”, the Ministry says.
In order for Serbia to become a desirable destination for active holidays, further investments in supporting infrastructure, such as rest areas and bicycle camps, are also needed.
‘Bicycle Tourism for Rural and Regional Development of Srem’ is one of the ongoing projects in this segment. It is funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and is valued at 37 million dinars. This project, which will last until August 2018, entails building a cycling infrastructure and putting up relevant signs on the Sava route.
The Serbian Tourist Board says that improving the infrastructure for cyclists often doesn’t require a huge amount of money, because in many cases all that needs to be done is for information boards to be put up on the existing routes, and for these routes to have rest stops.
This post is also available in: Italiano