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Biking

Valley-wide cycling on safe paths: Ötztal Cycle Trail

If you have already traveled towards Sölden on the main road this summer, you’ll have noticed two construction areas near Huben and close to Bruggen. The valley-wide Ötztal Cycle Trail has been further extended. Assuring also a maximum of safety for all cycling enthusiasts.

I talked about the ambitious project with Isi Grüner, responsible for the development of the cycle trail at Ötztal Tourismus. And I got to know many interesting details about Ötztal’s geological peculiarities, safety measures and how a cow herd can influence a cycle route.

Radfahrer auf Brücke - Ötztaler Radweg
Exploring the 1st section between Sölden and Aschbach
© Markus Geisler / Ötztal Tourismus

The journey itself is the reward

Last year the first part of the cycle path between Sölden and Aschbach was finished and opened officially. This year the construction works continue on the federal road at the height of Bruggen and Huben. More exactly, two new underpasses are under construction at the moment – a quite challenging undertaking.

It’s difficult to build a new route due to the valley’s narrowness. Isi explains that the Ötztaler Ache mountain river flows down the valley on the left, the federal road can be found in the center and some houses are located on the right side. Space is more than just limited here. Therefore it was necessary to plan two new underpasses.

Of course, there was more than just one good reason for this project. Erecting bridges would be easier and less expensive but also less effective in the long term. Overpasses are not “invisible”, they could even disturb the car drivers passing below. Additionally, every bridge in this area requires an unnatural ascent and descent. Also the locals from Bruggen favored the underpass, otherwise the bridge would have been at the height of their first floors.

The second underpass near Huben was built for a completely different reason: here a local farmer and his 25 cows walk across the federal road two times every day! It was important to offer a quick and safe alternative for the farmer and his cattle. Now they can also use the cycle path underpass to reach their meadows. In return the farmer keeps the underpass clean.

High water is a true challenge

The warm summer months caused a delay of the entire project due to huge masses of melting water and the increased water level of the Ötztaler Ache river. For reasons of safety, the construction works had to be stopped on several days of extremely high water.

Nevertheless, the completion and opening of this new cycle trail section is planned for August. Total costs (for this of construction part) amount to approximately one million Euros, Tirol’s National Government and its development funds take over 50% of the costs.

Radunterführung bei Huben - Ötztaler Radweg
Cycling trail underpass near Huben
© Benedikt Steiner / Ötztal Tourismus

SAFE CYCLING THROUGH THE VALLEY

Gruppe Radfahrer auf Radweg - Ötztaler Radweg
Safe and pleasant pedaling on the Ötztal Cycle Trail
© Bernd Ritschel / Ötztal Tourismus

“Over the last years, traffic has constantly increased on the federal road within the whole valley,” Isi explains. “Therefore we must keep the cyclists away from the heavily trafficked routes, assuring a safe journey through the Ötztal. This is one of the main aims of a valley-wide cycling path.”

All important bypasses of the Ötztal Cycle Trail should be completed by 2021. The total investment sum will amount to about 6 million Euros – a fairly ambitious project that guarantees cycling on safe routes for many years. In addition, a valley-wide guidance system for cyclists will be installed by promoting the importance and advantages of a cycle trail.

It’s important to keep the cyclists away from the main road, taking them through the valley safely.”

Isi Grüner, responsible Project Manager at Ötztal Tourismus

Further construction stages are already planned for 2018, comprising the track between Längenfel’s sewage plant and the long straight below Köfels. This is one of the most difficult passages as the valley is extremely narrow and dangerous in this area. Local experts, among them Isi, will figure out the safest and most convenient route for this part of the cycle trail, covering 1.5 km. In all probability, two bridges and one underpass will be part of the project. Fairly exciting prospects!

(Cover image: © Markus Geisler / Ötztal Tourismus) | (Video in German)

Tip & brand-new!

The Ötztal Cycle Trail (Trail No. 11) runs through the entire valley. Since August 2017, there is a brand-new rest area available for bikers in Sautens. The rest area is situated between the Outdoor Playground AREA 47 and the village of Sautens. Equipped with a sitting room, a roofing, a service station and an E-Bike charge base, the rest area offers everything you need to take a breather.

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Benni

Author Benni

When it comes to activity and motion, Benni pricks up his ears! He is a passionate snowboarder, mountain biker, climber & hiker and he knows no better playground for outdoor sports than the Ötztal. He is not the type to sit still - therefore Benni can be often found on the valley's most exciting bike trails and pristine powder snow slopes.

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