The Slovenia Times

Cycling route links Velenje and Dravograd via tunnels

Cyclists dressed in vintage for the inauguration of a new cycling route connecting Velenje and Dravograd. Photo: Lili Pušnik/STA

One of the most picturesque cycling routes has been inaugurated in the north of Slovenia, linking the towns of Velenje and Dravograd through a series of what used to be railway tunnels. From Dravograd a cycling path continues on to the Austrian side of the border, and another one heads on to Maribor.

The 35-kilometre route between Velenje and Dravograd makes use of an abandoned railway line, hence its name Štrekna, a local dialect word for railway track. It affords panoramic views of the Pohorje Massive and Mount Uršlja Gora on the way.

Its last stretch, a 9.4 km leg between Velenje and Gornji Dolič through the Huda Luknja gorge, was inaugurated with a ceremony on 21 May featuring senior officials and cyclists in vintage dresses.

The construction of that last section cost €18 million, with a significant share coming from the European Fund for Regional Development, according to Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek.

The project involved reconstruction of three existing railway tunnels, one of which runs 420 metres in length, as well as construction of a new 105 metre tunnel, four new overpasses above the main road, two new bridges and four rest areas, and renovation of two wooden bridges.

Bratušek noted that the cycling path was damaged during the August 2023 floods, with one section collapsing after the River Paka eroded the dam supporting it.

Separated from motorised traffic and paved with asphalt, the route starts in at an altitude of 411 metres in Velenje and reaches its highest point at 590 metres in Mislinja before descending by a gentle slope down to Dravograd at an altitude of 341 metres.

The gentle and steady slope makes it suitable in particular for families and older people.

From Dravograd it is possible to continue on a 10 km path on to the Austrian side of the border, to the bathing lake in Lavamünd, or alternatively, take the cycling path that follows the River Drava to Radlje ob Dravi and Maribor to the east.

Slovenia has invested more than €200 million in cycling infrastructure in the past 10 years. Including the investments by municipalities, the figure amounts to more than €250 million, Bojan Kumer, the minister of the environment, climate and energy, said.

The money was used to build more than 500 km of cycling surfaces and more than 700 km of cycling links, co-fund 20 rent-a-bike systems and build many bike parking spaces.

In the last three years alone, the ministry invested €31 per capita a year, which puts Slovenia among the countries that invest the most in cycling, such as the Netherlands, Ireland and Germany, according to the minister.


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