At the ITB in Berlin, the leading trade fair for the travel industry, tourism minister Elisabeth Köstinger (ÖVP) launched the biggest Austrian cycling campaign so far with the slogan ‘You like it? Bike it!’ Goal of the campaign by Austria Tourism is to market Austria internationally as a cycling destination. To do so, the campaign highlights 12 MTB destinations and 15 other destinations / regions good for recreational cycling.
Although Austria has a number of appealing destinations for mountain bike travelers, the grassroots MTB scene in Austria was more skeptical and cynical. In view of the prevailing legal situation in Austria, cycling in the forest and on forest roads is in most cases still forbidden and only marked MTB trails are legal to ride on. Following the kick off of the new campaign, many local mountain bike groups asked the minister if this meant that the stringent access provisions for mountain bikers will be changed now. That way, Austria wouldn’t be just a ‘mountain bike paradise’ for foreign tourist but also for its own population with legal trails in the proximity of where people live.
Others responded with satire, quickly launching a Facebook page with the You like it? Bike it! campaign slogan and various examples of bike bans, poor cycling infrastructure and prohibitory signs in Austria. Perhaps these signals could have a bit of an effect to work towards new policies and access regulations that address the value of mountain biking and accessible infrastructure for local communities better than in the current situation.