Booklet/History of the Biketour
1986, Sweden. A small group of young activists gathers in a kitchen and makes plans to fight the destruction of Sweden’s last virginal forests. The sorry state of forests and their fast destruction due to acid rains is an issue all over Europe. The group decides not only to take local action but to embark on a bus journey that will take them far beyond the EU’s boundaries.
Travelling from Sweden to Hungary, at each stop they make links with groups of young activists, working together to raise awareness locally about what is happening on the European level. “European Youth Forest Action” (EYFA) is born. The tour starts to create a network and it is decided to continue organising similar projects under this name.
In 1989, EYFA set up 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 has been organised every year since, through the network that had been built up. After all, the Biketour is a journey not a destination!
1993: Netherlands–Belgium–France 1994: Hungary–Romania 1995: Hungary–Slovakia–Czech–Poland 1996: Hungary–Slovakia–Czech 1997: No Biketour 1998: Poland–Czech–Germany 1999: Netherlands–Germany–Czech–Austria–Slovenia–Croatia–Hungary–Romania 2000: Poland–Lithuania–Latvia–Estonia–Finland 2001: Romania–Serbia–Macedonia–Bulgaria 2002: England–Ireland 2003: Poland–Ukraine 2004: Austria–Czech–Germany–Netherlands 2005: Bosnia–Serbia–Romania–Moldova 2006: Lithuania–Poland–Slovakia–Hungary–Croatia 2007: Catalunya–Spain–Portugal 2008: Bulgaria–Turkey 2009: Macedonia–Albania–Montenegro–Bosnia–Croatia 2010: England–Wales–France–Belgium–Netherlands–Germany 2011: Italy 2012: Catalunya–France–Italy 2013: Germany–Czech–Austria–Slovenia–Croatia–Bosnia–Serbia–Romania 2014: Bulgaria–Serbia–Kosovo–Macedonia–Greece 2015: Denmark–Sweden–Norway–Sweden–Finland 2016: (Germany–)Poland–Belarus–Lithuania–Latvia–Estonia