“Herzroute” – the world’s most beautiful panoramic tour

“Herzroute” – the world’s most beautiful panoramic tour

A picture book cycling tour through Switzerland

by Heini Hofmann

This is it now: the new gem in cycling-country Switzerland, the trans-Helvetic “Herzroute”from Lake Constance to Lake Geneva is finished and – No kidding! – will be officially launched 1 April in the Circus Museum of Rapperswil. Far away from the hustle and bustle it leads heart-warmingly through beautiful landscapes and towns, and is heart-protecting as well because of the e-bike.

Activity holidays in cycling country Switzerland is much in trend. But the modern outdoor tourist does not seek the sweat, but the advancement gentle to the heart. He does not want to be tortured, panting, with eyes downcast and acidic legs, but while comfortable cycling give the eyes time to discover the beauty of the roadside. He wants to have a rest at pleasant country inns, taste local products from direct manufacturers and eventually stay overnight far from main roads.

It began with a vision

Because the “Herzroute”does not take the unattractive direct way from A to B, but on carefully evaluated high-altitude trails with promising views, it is the dream route for the growing community of electric velocipedes. According to Switzerland Tourism, it is the “gem“ in the already ecxellent SchweizMobil route network, in short, the most attractive panoramic route for e-bikes worldwide. It passes 17 historic cities, 20 lakes and a whole string of pearls of cultural sites, natural wonders and power stations. Even “The New York Times” was moved to a major report.
How it came about. A good 25 years ago, at the beginning there was the vision of utopia specialist Paul Hasler (son of success writer Eveline Hasler). He brought the idea back from Route 66 in the US. He transferred it to an e-bike route right across Switzerland and thereby made the number 66 headstand. Route 99 was born! And because it stirs the heart with its scenic beauty it was babtised Heart Route.
In 2003, the first test road could be opened from Willisau to Lützelflüh in the Gotthelf country of Emmental, still with road markings at the time. Professionalisation in infrastructure, organisation and promotion had the result that in 2012 the track was already realised between Lake Geneva and Lake Zug that means the seven stages connection between the points of Lausanne and Zug.

Dynamic characters with enthusiasm

Meanwhile, one worked hard on the completion of the ambitious project. Thus, the last six stages from Zug to Rorschach can be launched by 1 April 2015. This way there is a proud 720 km hiking bike trail available between Lake Geneva and Lake Constance with 12,000 vertical meters, easy to handle thanks to e-bike. The “Herzroute”is devided into 13 exciting day stages which are all accessible by train and lead through 11 cantons.
The power team of the “Herzroute”is the already mentioned founder Paul Hasler, who has also evaluated the routes, the CEO of Herzroute AG in Burgdorf, the Pontresina-born paragliding pilot and tourism manager Simon Brülisauer, and the Swiss electric bike pioneer and “ Flyer “manufacturer Kurt Schär from Bernese Huttwil.
The e-bike success story did not begin, as one might expect, in the Dutch polderland, but in the mountains of Switzerland. By its topography it is virtually predestined as e-bike country. Hanspeter Danuser, the experienced tourism director and former spa director in St. Moritz is the inspiring advisor to the “Herzroute”team. In brief, in a short time and with great verve the motivated team has already achieved cult status for its baby.

Public Private Partnership

Even more so, today, the “Herzroute” is considered the model of a joint project of the cantons, regions and private initiators. As public private partnership project it runs on a sound basis. The public sector does the signalling, the private promoter (“Herzroute” AG), in cooperation with a non-profit network (Friends of the “Herzroute”) is dedicated to marketing and quality assurance.
The “Herzroute”is part of the cycling country Switzerland (www.veloland.ch). But it is not a bike tour of the large crowd. It addresses the pleasure-oriented audience that wants to explore the beauty of the country away from the everyday hustle and is interested in local food. It is a real win-win instrument as it takes sustainable tourism to rural areas with decelerated guests who, as surveys show, double the expenses compared to the rest of the network of cycling country Switzerland, which in turn many local partner companies are pleased with.
Each heart route-guest obtains a free guidebook (German/French) that shows the tourist attractions, cultural and culinary gems. It can also be booked ahead (www.herzroute.ch). More-than-one-day guests can also book travel packages and luggage transport (Swiss Trails). More than half of the guests are 50plus, and 80 percent use public transportation.

The journey is its own reward

Sporting people can ride their own bike on the heart route. For all others, e-bikes are recommended. Therefore, in all 14 town stages Flyer e-bikes can be rented from Partner for Rent (Rent a Bike) at 64 francs per day, with half tax for 59 franks and with easy return at the destination. Reservation under www.herzroute.ch is strongly recommended. Helmets are available free of charge.
The service is also very well organized along the way. Over 3000 wine-red-coloured signposts with the magic number 99 show in both directions on the heart route, equipped with 25 battery exchange stations, because an e-bike with an empty battery, i.e. without motor support would be hard to go.
The completion of the “Herzroute” comes in just dead right now, because Switzerland Tourism gets ready to internationally push the charm of the diverse Swiss landscape. While cycling routes in other countries extend along rivers and valleys, the ridge way “Herzroute”, where the journey is its own reward reward, is unique in its kind and, therefore, also internationally attractive. But most probably even many Swiss will be amazed of what may be discovered in their own country, away from the mainstream!     •
(Translation Current Concerns)

Need-to-know facts about E-bikes

HH. Electric bikes, capable of operating at a maximum speed of 25 km/h, are categorised as a light motor vehicle and as such are factually treated as regular bicycles. Wearing a helmet, having a licence plate or even liability insurance is not required in order to operate them. 14 to 15 year olds have to obtain the driving licence M to be allowed to use them.
E-bikes, however, operating at a maximum speed of 45 km/h are classified as motor cycles. Having a driving licence M is mandatory for all of those operating an e-bike as well as having to wear a helmet and having a (yellow) licence plate. Road sections with a three-part driving ban must not be driven on.
While operating an electric bike, the rider still has to pedal. Being fed through electricity from a battery, the motor only enhances the work done by the leg muscles. This pedalling help can be dialled up and down as needed by the rider.
Due to the recent increase of bicycle accidents – to which riders of the “Herzroute”, where only flyers of the “velo“ variety are available, certainly didn’t contribute in any substantial
way –, some politicians are calling for stricter rules for those devices. The Federal Roads Office (ASTRA), however, has declined to take new measures as of yet, citing the lack of past experience.

Inauguration party in Rapperswil-Jona

The six new stages of the “Herzroute” going from Rorschach to Zug will officially be opened in the presence of some celebrities on 1 April from 2 – 4 pm at Circus Museum Rapperswil (Fischmarktplatz 1, near the harbour).
The event is free and open to the public (“Herzroute”-Flyers will also be available for test driving).

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