Update: Romania's forest administration agency accused of plowing cycling path ahead of major competition near Bucharest
Update: Romania’s environment minister, Tanczos Barna, weighed in on the issue of the plowed bike path. “It is unacceptable for such a conflict to exist between a state institution and an NGO that ultimately wants a beautiful, fair, sporting competition in the forest. However, those who organize such competitions must understand that certain rules must be respected in the forest, and I am confident that we will find a middle ground. I will personally take care of this. In fact, I specifically asked them last week not to touch the path,” Barna said, cited by News.ro. He also promised to go into the field himself for this case.
Initial story: Romania's forest administration authority, Romsilva, was recently accused by mountaineer and activist Alex Găvan of sabotaging a major cross-country cycling competition by plowing one of the paths in the forests around Bucharest, where the event is set to take place.
According to Găvan, Prima Evadare is "the largest international cross-country cycling competition in Eastern Europe, with thousands of participants."
"Dear Romsilva Ilfov, as you already know, according to your own rules, the forests around the capital primarily have a social and recreational purpose. And Prima Evadare is the largest international cross-country cycling competition in Eastern Europe, with thousands of participants. In its 15 years of existence, it has become one of Bucharest's emblematic events, attracting not only nature and amateur cycling enthusiasts but also big names in the sport, such as a multiple world and Olympic champion," writes Alex Găvan.
"To plow over the paths on which this competition takes place, just before the competition, as you did for about 2 km, intentionally sabotaging the event just before the start and thus threatening its unfolding, is not only an abusive gesture but also something that certainly does not do you credit."
"The forest is not just timber, but infinitely more. We consider that access to the forest for recreation, sports or education, and to all the other gifts that the forest unconditionally and with infinite generosity offers us, is a fundamental right of ours," Găvan concludes.
Daniel Sărdan, an organizer of the Prima Evadare cycling event, says in a post on Facebook that Romsilva Ilfov has long tried to disrupt the event. He also accuses the director of Romsilva Ilfov of corruption.
"If you're wondering why Ilfov and Bucharest don't have any tourist trails for walking or cycling, the answer is evident through this kind of attitude year after year, although numerous requests have been submitted that could have been used to create new trails by us and others without any state funding, although millions of euros have been allocated for this purpose. They don't want people in the forest to see all the illegalities we have repeatedly reported," Sărdan says.
While no official response has so far been issued by Romsilva, a comment from its representatives came by way of one of its posts on social media. Accused of destroying the cycling path, the official page of Romsilva argues in a comment that "there is no bike trail there" and that "forestry technical regulations provide for periodic plowing to prevent fires in the forest land."
Prima Evadare is a race that takes place between Bucharest and Snagov, through forests and country roads, over a distance of 55 km. The organizers said the race reached a maximum of 3,000 participants, aged between 5 and 73, from 29 countries. The marathon is accessible to almost anyone, but training is recommended beforehand, consisting of at least 3 longer trips on rough terrain.
The route of the race is marked along the entire distance, has 3 feed zones, 12 control points, and a start and finish area, is assisted by police and rescue teams, and is patrolled by competition officials, teams of photographers and cameramen. The route is cleaned and marked throughout the year to be used for training and excursions, organizers explained. Last but not least, the event also has an ecological component. Together with the municipalities and volunteers, the waste is cleaned up as much as possible from the traversed forests.
The competition is organized by the NoMad Multisport Club. This year, Dacia will be the official car for the event. Dacia cars will help organizers access, check, and prepare the route in the weeks leading up to the race.
The event is scheduled to proceed as planned despite the plowing.
(Photo source: Platforma Civica Impreuna pentru Centura Verde)