The Alps can be explored in many ways – and the bicycle is becoming an increasingly popular choice for enabling this exploration. The international conference "MoVe the Alps" on cycling tourism in the Alpine region offered a deeper look into some of the opportunities, as well as challenges in the growing area of cycling tourism. The "MoVe the Alps" conference was the first major event in the context of the Swiss Presidency of the Alpine Convention 2021-2022.
On 22 April 2021, over 300 participants from various European countries – from the Alps and Carpathians but also beyond – joined the virtual event to discuss how to promote sustainable cycling tourism in the Alps. Speakers shared insights about the role(s) of cycling tourism in the Alpine region, with its significant potential to reduce the negative impacts of tourism mobility.
Bicycles are not only important for daily commuting but are increasingly part of, and an enabling factor for, a more sustainable form of tourism. As a form of mobility, cycling can offer an alternative for tourists to travel to their destination as well as facilitating, and often increasing, their mobility once they arrive.
A main takeaway of the event was that the development of cycling in the Alpine region is moving in a good direction – but that it needs to move faster and be steered in the right way to secure its contribution to sustainable development.
Some of the points highlighted by the speakers to achieve this included:
- Reaching an overarching digital solution that gathers all relevant information for cycling holidays across Europe – thus including the Alps – would be a good starting point. Nonetheless, many obstacles and open questions remain in the expansion of digitalisation, especially related to the use and sharing of data.
- Taking cycling into account in the initial development of new infrastructure so that whenever such plans are developed, cycling should already be included in the planning phase. Changing existing infrastructures by adding cycle lanes or bridges in retrospect is much more expensive and more difficult to implement.
- Increasing governance and financing in the field of cycling is needed.
The presentations from the “MoVe the Alps” conference reflect the fact that the Alps are an attractive place to visit for people from all over. The bicycle should therefore also serve to help people explore the beauty and diversity of the Alps, their nature, and their cultures.
Finally, the event reaffirmed the fact that when it comes to sustainable mobility solutions, there is no need to reinvent the wheel – after all, a bicycle already has two!
The presentations from the “MoVe the Alps” conference are available here.