Booklet/History of the Biketour

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(Copied from 2012 booklet)

Once upon a time, like all good fairy-tales begin, there were some motivated young people and an organisation called EYFA (European Youth For(est) Action). They created an environmental activist camp called Ecotopia, which lasted several weeks during the summer of 1989 in Cologne, Germany. One of the main aims was for young people from both Eastern and Western Europe to have the opportunity to learn and have fun in an international group. A lot of effort was put into making everyone's participation as fair as possible. A new currency – the ‘eco’ was developed especially for the camp, using rates calculated to take into account peoples different economic background. Another aim of the camp was for the general public to be made conscious of environmental problems and other issues in their local community, while maintaining a more global perspective.

At this first Ecotopia, young people from all over Europe sat down to turn the dream of a Biketour through Europe into reality. The aims would be the same, and it would be a way of getting to Ecotopia too. Cycling was chosen as the mode of transportation because it is less ecological damaging than the bus tours EYFA had previously organised.

The first Biketour started in May 1990 in Norway – 4000 km and 2.5 months later, the group arrived at Ecotopia in Hungary. The political objective of the tour was a campaign for an environmentally responsible traffic policy, less consumption and to end destructive ways of tourism. More than 500 environmentalists from 15 countries cycled along, which worked without major problems or incidents.

Both the organisers and participants were content and enthusiastic at the end. EYFA got the 1st prize of the “European Environmental Award” in Germany for the best youth initiative in 1990. Ecotopia became an annual event, and so did the Biketour. Its distance generally became shorter than the first one, but the aims stayed more or less the same. The Biketour continued to happen every summer for the couple of months before (and sometimes after) Ecotopia. So far the mobile community has collectively cycled through almost every country in Europe.

EYFA decided that the Ecotopia camp in Turkey in 2008 would be the last one they organised. Yet the Ecotopia Biketour had become such a project in its own right that it was still organised in 2009, through the network that had been built up. After all, the Biketour is a journey not a destination!

In 2010, another group of people organised a camp in Germany they called “Ecotopia?“. This new event was discussed as one of many locations to be part of the 2010 route. After much consideration we agreed on a route that included many activist camps and projects which fitted the topic and aims of our climate justice campaign. There was no “Ecotopia” in 2011 but one in 2012 in Jänschwalde, perhaps the gathering will become part of our Biketour route in the future. Although a lot of people tend to refer to the project as simply “The Biketour” we are still officially calling ourselves The Ecotopia Biketour.