Limburg is taking its cyclists into water, through treetops and underground

Natural wonders are amplified by art, design and architecture, meant to bring you closer to nature in new and surprising ways.
– Igor Philtjens

Cyclists in Belgium's Limburg province are being brought closer to nature in a variety of innovative and unusual ways.

"25 years ago Belgian Limburg was the first region worldwide to develop a cycle node network, where you cycle from junction to junction," explained Igor Philtjens, Minister for Regional Tourism, chairman of Visit Limburg and the driving force behind the projects.

"We were a pioneer in recreational cycling tourism, but over the years, other regions and countries started copying the Limburg cycle node network. So to maintain our pole position, we needed to keep innovating. Not necessarily by creating more miles, but by creating even better ones."

Inspired by Norway's Scenic Routes, a number of interventions were conceived aimed at allowing cyclists to experience the natural beauty of Limbury in ways that would otherwise not be possible.

The first project, Cycling through Water, was launched in 2016 and takes the form of a sunken cycle path run through a lake. Designed by Lens°ass architects and integrated into the landscape by BuroLandschap, the path allows cyclists to see, smell and even reach out to touch the water.

The Cycling through the Trees pathway, which was designed by BuroLandschap and opened in June 2019, gradually lifts cyclists up to a height of 10m (33ft) until they are within the canopy with 360-degree views.

A third intervention called Cycling through the Heathland is under construction in the Hoge Kempen National Park, having been designed by Maat Ontwerpers in collaboration with Witteveen+Bos. Due to open this year, it will feature a 300m (984ft) long bridge in spectacular surroundings.

And a fourth, the design of which is currently being finalised by ipv Delft and will be called Cycling Underground, will take cyclists into the marl caves in the south of Limburg.

"Natural wonders are amplified by art, design and architecture, meant to bring you closer to nature in new and surprising ways," said Philtjens. "For this project they carried out interventions in certain landscapes, to ensure that visitors can enjoy the landscape even more, without damaging or devaluating it."

Limburg  Belgium  cycling  cycle paths  nature 
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