In the municipality of Radovljica you can see how Dutch cycling infrastructure can be an example and inspiration for Slovenia. The Dutch cycle junction network is a best practice applied in the Slovenian mountains.
In a junction network you don’f follow the place names on the road signs but you follow numbers as each signpost on the junctions is numbered. So in stead of memorizing place names and directions, you just have to remember a few numbers.
In Radovljica there is a network with 122 numbered signposts. The bicycle routes, they point to, lead cyclists over quiet country roads. In total, over the first three years, the costs of the project amounted to 25.000 euro. The junction network covers between three and four hundred kilometres.
Blaz Bole, a Radovljican who has lived in the Netherlands for years, is the driving force behind Radovljica’s bicycle route network. With a group of ten volunteers from Radovljica he came up with a unique version adapted to the Slovenian situation.
As Blaz Bole explains, the mountainous Gorenjska landscape forced the network designers to make a distinction between the routes. Like ski slopes, the Radovljica junction network has blue, red and black stretches. Blue routes have inclinations below 4 per cent, red routes have inclinations below 8 per cent and the black routes have inclinations above 8 per cent.
The idea for the Radovljica route system was born on a boat in the Netherlands. ,,I was there with a group of friends on bicycle holiday””, says Bole. ,,I explained the Dutch cycle junction network to them which I used to navigate our trip and they were enthusiast about it. I said that we could also do it in Slovenia.” Bole went to the Tourist Information Centre Radovljica and the mayor and found support. The volunteers got a budget and in 2012 the first 35 signposts were placed on the left side of river Sava.
One of the big goals was to get bicyclists from the main roads to quiet and safe byways. ,,This is a necessity because we don’t have bicycle paths here. If you don’t have money for bicycle paths and you want bicyclists off the main roads, then this is what you should do.”
Even before the network was completed, people have been using Radovljica’s junction system. ,,People who live near signposts tell me that they see much more bicyclists than before. And even locals say that with our signs they ride on roads even they didn’t know.”
Bike tourists from all over the world ride in Radovljica, notices Bole. ,,They enter the country through Tarvisio or Jezersko and then have to pass here on their way south. Once I met a bicyclist on the bridge in Podnart who asked me the way to Montenegro. Well, our signs bring you in the direction of Kranj but from there you will have to find your own way.”
So far only Radovljica has a bicycle junction system. But it’s easy to connect the numbered junctions of Radovljica with other municipalities. ,,I hope other municipalities will follow with this system. I can help them with it. We are willing to share our expertise.”