Bicycle tourism in Italy is growing steadily, revealing a phenomenon with strong upward potential. This is the outcome of the second edition of the national survey titled “What Type of Cyclist Are You? Places, Transportation, Safety, Habits, Trends, Needs, and Expectations of Cyclists,” conducted by FIAB (Italian Federation of Friends of the Bicycle) in collaboration with the University of Insubria, Active Italy, and CIAB (Club of Bicycle-Friendly Enterprises). The survey took place between June and September 2023 and involved 2,500 cyclists who responded to a series of online questions.
The results of this survey were presented on October 12 at the TTG Travel Experience held at the Rimini Fair within the conference “The Metamorphosis of Cycling Tourism: From a Simple Bicycle Vacation to an Opportunity to Reconnect with Natural Spaces.”
Favorite destinations and essential services
The data collected reveal that more than 70 percent of bicycle tourists reach their travel destination by train, demonstrating the growing importance of sustainable mobility in this sector. Moreover, over 80% of cyclists consider it crucial to be able to transport their bicycles on trains and buses even during their trips.
The preferred destinations of cyclists are primarily found in Italy, with a preference for northern regions, including Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy, Trentino Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Nevertheless, 23% of cyclists also opt for international travel.
Despite preferences for rural areas, 68% of cyclists seek the pleasure of a cycling vacation in cities and urban areas. Furthermore, the significance of infrastructure and bicycle-friendly services is evident, with 88% of cyclists considering the possibility of loading bicycles onto trains and buses very important and 90% attaching crucial importance to the maintenance of areas adjacent to cycling routes.
The quality of cycling routes (95%) and the presence of technical services along routes (78%) are also crucial factors in itinerary selection.
Ebikes and bicycle touring
An interesting fact is that about 31% of bicycle tourists travel by electric bicycle (ebike). 88% of regular cyclists were already taking cycling vacations regularly before using e-bikes, while 22% of occasional cyclists were introduced to cycling tourism through e-bikes, underscoring their significance for a segment of the industry.
E-bikes allow for undertaking routes with greater elevation changes (83%), choosing longer routes (81%), increasing the number of trips throughout the year (72%), and engaging a not exclusively young audience (48%).
Occasional cyclists prove to be more demanding than regular cyclists when it comes to accommodation choices and services. The ability to have energetic meals suitable for an active vacation (77%), launder clothing (59%), access maps (68%), rent bicycles (41%), and join guided excursions (43%) assumes increasing importance.
Accommodation and Services Connected to Lodging Facilities
The research indicates that 92% of regular cyclists prefer to organize their trips independently. Conversely, among occasional cyclists, 28% find support from cycle-ecological associations such as FIAB and/or tour operators.
These findings are corroborated by the experiences of tour operators within the Active Italy network. This suggests the need for agencies to increase promotional efforts in creating attractive and cyclist-friendly itineraries.
Road safety as a critical element
An important aspect that emerged from the survey is the perception of road safety. Both regular and occasional cyclists express concerns related to coexistence on the roads with motorized vehicles. However, occasional cyclists suffer more from the perception of poor road safety, negatively affecting their intentions to engage in cycling tourism.
In summary, cycling tourism in Italy is continuously evolving, with cyclists seeking more attractive itineraries, suitable services, and sustainable mobility solutions. Interest in e-bikes is growing, and road safety remains a key concern for cyclists, especially occasional ones. Interest in ebikes is on the rise, and road safety remains a key concern for cyclists, particularly occasional cyclists.