Bike For Europe 2018 kicks into gear in Vienna

31/01/2018

The NowWeBike “Journey of Hope” took place in both 2015 & 2016, with these events acting as forerunners to this year’s Bike For Europe cross-border cycling tour. These events have all been under the umbrella of ISCA’s Europe-wide NowWeMOVE campaign, while also being integral events in the lead up to the European Week of Sport. From 1 – 23 September 2018, BikeForEurope will continue the extremely successful journey across Europe, with the aim of encouraging communities to take action and build networks between refugees, citizens, clubs and organisations through sport and physical activity. Two teams of five cyclists will cycle across Europe, starting from two separate points (the Netherlands and Greece) and will meet each other in the centre of Europe, in Vienna, as a symbolic gesture of solidarity and peaceful mobility. Therefore, BikeForEurope has an important place in the NowWeMOVE and #BeActive calendars of 2018.

From 18 – 20 January, ISCA and the tour’s team leaders Feridun Ekmekci, from Turkey, and Georgios Farfaras, from Greece, kicked off preparations for the 2018 Bike for Europe cross-border cycling tour in Vienna. Austria will hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU when the tour takes place. On the 23rd of September the two teams of cyclists will arrive in Vienna, the Austrian capital, to complete the tour in time for the European Week of Sport opening event. The organising team got a taste of the local cycling culture when they visited the Critical Mass Friday night closed-streets cycling group to meet some of the local cycling enthusiasts (pictured below).

While in Vienna, an additional meeting with our Austrian partners, the Austrian Ministry of Sports and Bundessportorganisation (BSO – The Austrian state’s sport organisation), had been arranged to clarify and discuss further details concerning the tour’s arrival in Vienna and the official opening event for the European Week of Sport.

This year, the Bike for Europe tour will involve organisations along the cycling routes who are working to integrate refugees into their communities through sporting and recreational cycling activities. However, Bike for Europe tour coordinator Laura-Maria Tiidla has stated that anyone can get involved in the tour, and in doing so get behind a cause that is important to so many Europeans at a difficult and divisive moment in our history.

“I believe #BikeForEurope will offer an opportunity for Europeans to show their support towards European solidarity. Local citizens can choose different levels of involvement: joining the tour, organising local events, donating cycling kilometres or supporting local crowdfunding campaigns. Too often we only hear voices of protest against strangers, migrants and refugees, so joining this initiative could be a peaceful way to show your support for a more inclusive society.”

The tour will start in the Netherlands, a country which boasts a strong cycling culture, and from there the route passes through the European Green Capital (Nijmegen) and runs along several EuroVelo routes and part of the Cycling Cities network in 11 different countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece), acting as a lead-up event to the European Week of Sport while also directly contributing to the week itself.

The leader of the South-East team for the tour, Georgios Farfaras, from Greenways Social Cooperative Enterprise in Greece, said that the tour’s southern route will be both a poignant and rewarding journey for his team.

“The South-East team will cycle along the closed so called ‘Balkan’ route of refugees and we hope to spread the message for support and recognise the suffering in their desperate journeys. We hope to activate more sports clubs and organisations in our tour along the way. The bicycle is an easy and economical way to provide opportunities for physical activity and social interaction, commuting and freight-carrying, even for family recreation or tourism.”

The Bike for Europe tour is co-funded by the European Commission as a Not-for-Profit European Week of Sport Event. On the new and updated Website you can find out more about the tour, get involved and show your support towards biking together in Europe.

Like and follow us on our social media channels and stay tuned for more news from Bike for Europe 2018. #BikeForEurope #BeActive #NowWeMOVE