Coastal private property puts a brake on bicycle touring

Nature lovers, tourists and cycling enthusiasts can enjoy the sandy side of Latvia on the seashore via the cycling trail that stretches from Tūja to Salacgrīva. The trail is marked throughout, and bicycle rentals exist in the two cities. However, access to a part of the trail is blocked by a sign that reads "Private property", and in other areas access to the sea is similarly limited.

In one location, only a post with removed screws marks the location where the signs showing the exit point and entry point of the cycling trail used to be. 

Similarly, Ķurmrags and its lighthouse mark an area particularly loved by tourists and marked on the map of the cycling trail, but now the only witness to the trail's existence is another post with a "Beware of dog" sign. 

"Lawfully it's a beach, which is a public space, it is [part of the] 20 meter towline in control of the municipality," said Kristaps Jankovičs, the initiator of the cycling trail project.

Even though at the time when journalists visit no one tried to make them leave, the intimidating sign will surely scare away both Latvian and foreign tourists, who would then be forced to ride on the busy and less picturesque Tallinn highway.

Further on the trail, the next challenge appears: an interruption of another 800 meters as there is another sign that prohibits use of the trail. To get past, cyclists have to descend a steep staircase and cycle on, or more probably walk along the sand.

Jānis Cīrulis, the deputy chairman of the Salacgrīva district, said that agreements about exit roads from the trail to the sea exist, and they would be installed this summer.

As for the uncooperative landowners, Cīrulis said that "Proceedings will be started for dispossessing the land for the needs of the public." 

Even though the municipality is taking action, the cycling trail will remain as is at least for this summer as such proceedings take a lot of time. 

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