The province of Limburg is honored to organize the EuroVelo and Cycle Tourism Conference 2018. Almost 25 years ago, our province pioneered the concept of the ‘cycle node network’. Over the past decades, Limburg has grown into a true cyclist’s paradise of Flanders, Belgium and even the Euregion.
Every year we receive an average of two million cyclists. Along the routes, they can find no fewer than 165 approved cycle cafes and 117 approved cyclist friendly overnight stays. The Limburg bicycle route network is one of the main reasons for visiting Limburg, and is therefore one of the biggest attractions of our province. Fietsen123.nl, the most popular bicycle website in the Benelux, has crowned Limburg the ‘best cycling province’ already eight times. Our cycle route network has been replicated all over the world and we continually invest to ensure we retain our pole position.
The existing cycling infrastructure in Limburg is impressive. It is a network of different cycling routes that are connected to each other via junctions (usually crossroads of bicycle trails). With the help of a map of the bicycle route network, cyclists can put together their own bicycle tour by planning a route from one junction to another. Limburg has developed 2.000 km of cycling trails. The network is also connected to the cycle networks of our neighboring regions in all directions. This makes a multiple day trip even more exciting!
From the start on in 1995, we aimed high. Estimated about 50% of the existing cycle trails in the network are specially made for the cycle node network and the aim of bringing cyclists right to the most beautiful places in diverse landscapes. This process took 20 years, for 2000km and 400 cycle nodes. Now we are proud to say that we have a high-end cycle node network. Every 2 years we update our cycle maps to make adjustments to bring the existing network to an even higher level (ABC-quality principle).
The aim of Limburg is to strengthen its position as a market leader in bicycle tourism through new impulses. To achieve this and stay number one the ambition is first of all to keep a high level cycling infrastructure. Cycling paths (path itself, lightning, direction signs, etc.) and accommodation (mobility, cycle renting and catering facilities) need to be state of the art. This hardware is the first thing cyclists notice when visiting a region.
Secondly we need to add new, high quality bicycle opportunities to the existing bicycle route network. This will enable cyclists to interact even more with the natural beauty of our varied landscape. Our latest unique and innovative projects have been combined under the name ‘Cycling Synergy’.
The plans to extend scenic routes such as the Fruit Trail – an old industrial railway in our fruit region – and the Mine Trail are also well under way. The Mine Trail will link up a number of restored mining sites, which are part of our industrial heritage. And then there is the Meuse River Cycle Route, a cycle path that has already brought the province international renown among the cycling community. The Meuse Cycle Route links the various Meuse villages to each other, each with their unique history along the winding river, each in turn embedded in the splendid Meuse Valley River Park and with the town of Maaseik, birthplace of the renowned brothers and painters Hubert and Jan van Eyck as the cultural jewel in this string of pearls.