Lappeenranta’s 275 kilometers of bicycles routes are not enough for its residents who even wish to bicycle down to Vyborg, Russia. We are lucky to be able to bicycle pretty much anymore we wish at home, a privilege I remember to appreciate when I visit St. Petersburg that is also trying to promote bicycling, against all the odds – and traffic. With the title of the Bicycling City of 2015 we all should climb on the saddle and check out few of our routes. There actually is a great route signage. Bicycling has many positive effects for all-rounded wellbeing from our personal habitus to expanding friendship circles.
Lappeenranta – The Cycling City 2015
Lappeenranta was selected as the Cycling City 2015 in Finland for its efforts to foster bicycling. Our city’s technical department continuously evaluates and develops our bicycling routes. The engineer in charge of the bicycle routes actually personally bicycled all the routes with a video-camera on his helmet to learn the routes and find actual problem areas. That is dedication! We keep on keeping the pavements in good shape and adding signage on the routes to help cyclist find interesting routes by Saimaa Canal and other interesting areas.
Lappeenranta has altogether 275 km out of which 95 kilometers are the main bicycling routes that are cleared of the snow even during the winter. Yes, some Finns actually do bicycle to work year around. We also annually select the Cyclist of the Year, a person who bicycles to work throughout the year.
We are also working on new cycling maps with route examples of various distances around our vicinity. We already have a map of main cycling roads and places to cycle to such as the Fortress, Saimaa Canal, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Taipalsaari municipality and so on available in Finnish, English, Russian and German even. Now the new map to be published for the summer will have better maps and clear route instructions for cycling. This will be also made in English and Russian in addition to Finnish and they will be found on our website as well.
With this in mind it was time for me to also cycle to Vyborg this May when invited by the Finnish-Russian Friendship Association.
Lappeenranta –Vyborg Friendship Bicycling Event
I was happy to participate at the 28th Lappeenranta – Vyborg Friendship Bicycling Event on May 15-16th. This Finnish-Russian Friendship Association’s event started in the 1980’s to foster the cooperation across the borders. The event has collected more and more cyclists along the years. There were 140 bicyclers on this event this year. The Russian cyclists arrived the day ahead on 14th of May to Lappeenranta and then we all cycled down together. The weather was remarkable, sunny but windy all the way.
The distance is about 68 kilometers and it is a great fun - for the first day. Second day calls for Finnish sisu to climb up. As the Russian counterpart cyclist said “The bicycle keeps on going as you long as you keep on peddling.” This is it, simple.
It was good that we had taken German cyclists into consideration as we had the Mayor of the Schwäbisch Hall, Germany in our cyclists group with us. Mayor Jarva had invited this honorary guest, who enjoyed the trip tremendously, along. This again reminds me what a great tourism product this trip could be made into.
In addition to bicycling the event holds a fun evening at the Druzhba Hotel in Vyborg with speeches and dancing. The band playing at the hotel with its singers is remarkable. The language is secondary when they play Sway me now in Russian.
St. Petersburg Tourist Info Cooperation
On May 20th we signed a cooperation agreement between Lappeenranta and St. Petersburg Tourist Information Centers. We have two and they have 10 centers and now we are bigger together. We both have interest to increase information exchange and create joint promotion to foster tourism in our region. Lappeenranta already promotes St. Petersburg via Saimaa Travel services as part of goSaimaa package. Soon there will be more St. Petersburg and Lappeenranta information available on each other Tourist Infos. Further we will seek ways to increase tourism companies’ cooperation across the borders to bring new packages and services to market. Better yet, they now also expect us to bicycle to St. Petersburg…