The bike rental system within the national park helps to overcome the last mile of tourists that are not prepared for long hiking trails.
The bike rental system helps tourists to overcome the “last mile” once they have arrived at the national park.
The system was developed in response to the growing number of tourists lacking knowledge about the hiking trails. Some of the tourists coming to Slovak Paradise National Park were not aware of the length of the hiking trails. Coming to the end of the trail they wanted to call a taxi or they asked when the bus will come. Having a possibility to use bicycles made the way back easier. The final stop is at Podlesok (beginning and end point of different hiking trails) where they can use the public bus line to continue their way back home. Another service is the transport by microbus to the saddle of Kopanec road and afterwards a 16 km long downhill ride by bike.
At present the system includes around 300 bikes, the main rental base is in Podlesok, two other rental stations are in Kláštorisko and on the top of Suchá Belá. From these 2 points people have the possibility to ride back to Podlesok by bike. The CycloTourSpiš also cooperates with hotels and guesthouses in Slovak Paradise. Tourists can rent their bikes immediately at the hotel or guesthouse.
The main stakeholder is the private company CykloTourSpiš and main beneficiaries of the practice are tourists coming to Slovak Paradise as well as hotel and guesthouse keepers.
It is planned to connect this on-site offer with a public transport service proposed within the LAST MILE action plan.
The system did not receive any national and EU funds. It started as a small family business and all members of the family help with the business during the season. It operates from May until the end of October. Price for rental of 1 bike is 5,- €. The off season is used for the maintenance of bikes.
Evidence of success
Operating system is profitable. The system does not receive any subsidies or financial support from public funds. The amount of tourists using the bikes is increasing every year. The system offers different types of bicycles, thereunder such with child's seats, bikes for children in different sizes, a bike trailer and an attractive tandem bicycle, helmets, handbags and baskets.
The number of bikes is rising and in the future the company would like to introduce also e-bikes.
Starting the bike rental business was difficult. It took 3 years (174 permits from different subjects) to get all the relevant permissions to start the rental within the national park. The permissions have to be renewed every 2 years. The offer is not accessible by public transport at the moment.
Potential for learning or transfer
The good practice shows potential for transfer to other remote areas with touristic valorisation - bike rentals at the edge of sensitive natural areas where the “last mile” to various points of interest in the sensitive area can be reached only by bike. Once legal barriers are overcome, the bike rental can run without funding.
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