Sunday, 14 March 2010

Cycle route signposting in the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a nationwide system for numbering and signposting its official cycle routes. These routes form an ever-expanding network covering the entire country. They run mostly along quiet roads and off-road trails, often in very picturesque locations. You don’t have to stick to the marked routes, of course, but they do make route-finding much easier in the field.

So how does the system work?
First of all, numbering. The routes are classed into four categories as follows:
- category 1 (international long-distance routes) - international-level routes connecting cities in Europe
- category 2 (long-distance routes) - supra-regional routes
- category 3 (regional routes) - routes connecting regional destinations
- category 4 (local routes) - local links

The number of digits in the route number corresponds to the category number. In other words, category 1 routes have one digit, category 2 routes two digits, category 3 routes three digits and category 4 routes four digits.

Let’s look at some examples:
- cycle route number 1 connects Prague and Brno and forms part of the EuroVelo 4 Central Europe Route;
- route 33 runs the entire length of Šumava National Park and even has its own name: Šumavská magistrála (literally, the Šumava Trunk Route);
- route 501, for instance, connects the Moravian towns of Vsetín and Valašské Meziříčí;
- route 0068 is a 33 km route somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

Note: Cycle paths in Prague do not follow this system. The capital city is gradually switching over to a three-category system consisting of the letter A followed by one, two or three digits (e.g. A2, A15, A283), again depending on the importance of the route. There's a cycle map of the city here.

On the ground each cycle route is marked with yellow signposts at regular intervals. These, too, are standardised. Here are some examples with explanatory notes:

Route 16 straight on

Route 3 turn left

Route 5 turn right

Route 14 straight on to village of Semice, 22 km from here

Route 507 turn right for Luleč, 21 km from here

Bear left then go straight on along route 401 to Chrlice
or turn right along route 4 to Rajhrad and Blučina

Off-road trails are often marked with smaller (14 x 14 cm) colour-coded striped signs painted on trees, rocks or other convenient surfaces:

Red cycling route straight on

Blue cycling route turn right

Green cycling route this way (some local routes are marked like this)

Note: Be careful not to confuse these "yellow+colour" cycling trail signs with those for hiking trails (white+colour) and skiing trails (orange+colour). All of them, however, can be useful for route-finding.

You may also come across directional signs like this if you’re travelling off-road (cyklotrasa is the Czech word for “cycle route”):


Just to confuse matters, some areas have their own systems. In particular, the Krkonoše and Šumava national parks use plain wooden signposts, as they blend in better with the outstanding natural beauty of these areas. However, both parks partly use the national system as well.

 Cycle signpost in Krkonoše (Giant Mountains) National Park

If you found this post interesting, you may also like to read this more recent article on new Czech road signs and markings.

4 comments:

Loving the Bike said...

Thanks for introducing me to what it's like to cycle in The Czech Republic. I find it very interesting to learn what it's like in other parts of the world. I'd like to hear more about what it's like. Feel free to contact me at darryl@lovingthebike.com so that I can find out more. Great post by the way.

Simon Vollam said...

Thanks for the positive feedback! I'll definitely be in touch.

Anonymous said...

great introduction to a different system.

Circuit Rider CZ said...

Thanks!

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