Cycling in Switzerland is very popular and the infrastructure, considerably advanced. Given its often undulating terrain, coupled with the population’s above-average spending power, it is unsurprising that more than a third of bike sales in Switzerland are now e-bikes.
However there has also been a considerable growth in the demand for reconditioned vintage cycles, particularly those from the student population. These can often be obtained at your local “Velobörse” (eng. Bicycle exchange) where you may also choose to sell your own trusty steed.
These exchanges usually happen on Saturday mornings, once or twice a year at a prominent location in your town or village. You simply drop off your bicycle early in the morning and set a minimum price with the organisers who will take a small commission in the event of a sale. You may get yourself a bargain in the process! Look up your next local Velobörse here and discover what else they may offer, for example: courses and bike-to-work schemes https://www.pro-velo.ch/de/angebote/veloboersen
You’ve also probably seen some red road signs with a bicycle image on them and sometimes a number. So where do these lead to and what do the numbers mean? Firstly, they represent cycling routes and these routes in Switzerland are away from heavy traffic. With few exceptions, these are generally cycle lanes in designated areas along lakes, rivers, railway tracks, through forests and of course, nearly always with stunning backdrops.
Some further tips:
- Additionally, signs with single digits written on them, are national routes and these criss-cross the countryside, varying in length and subjective difficulty. Route 5 is reportedly the easiest and 4 the hardest, as well as being the only one that a road bike can be ridden all the way through. Route 7 needs to be digested in smaller than average chunks, while 6 will hurt, despite its shortness.
- Double digit signs are inter-regional routes and these may cover three or four cantons and are often to be found in slightly lesser known parts of the country.
- Finally, that strange one up the road from you, may have three digits and these are local tours, often circular in shape and designed to be completed in one session.
- There is also a website covering all the Swiss bicycle routes in detail. These state where the routes start and finish, and offer advice on:
- recommended distances for each section
- accommodation options from camping and sleeping in straw – to five star hotels
- what to look out for en route.
- even how to avoid the steep bits and any parts along busy main roads.
- Apps can be downloaded, guides purchased and maps printed.
Mountain biking routes also follow the same principle with single, double and triple digit signs, with an image of a cyclist at an angle with a backpack. These routes can also be found in detail on the above mentioned site.
Connections to routes is easy, as railway stations are often used as hub points to start and finish routes or parts of routes. Bikes can be transported on trains for a small fee, but please be aware that intercity cross country trains require an additional reservation due to restricted space.
Cycles in official transport bags can be transported for free as luggage. If transporting a bike is too much hassle, then main stations can forward your bicycle to your pick-up station of choice, for little more than the cost of bike day ticket.
More on bicycle transport by train can be found here:
Don’t have a bike, or fancy a nice day trip without the hassle of getting your bike to a certain starting point? Then rental services also exist and these are often subsidised when purchased in connection with a rail card. These also have the advantage of the bike being able to be picked up and dropped off at the station of your choice.
So what are you waiting for? Discover the Swiss countryside on two wheels whether for a day trip, a personal challenge, or even a holiday. Start finding out where those peculiar red signs go to. And there are so many that it is nearly impossible to get lost, even without a map. Who knows where you will end up! But being Switzerland, it is guaranteed to be nice.
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