Exercise and outdoor recreation routes
Exercise and outdoor recreation routes include routes such as fitness trails, nature trails, hiking routes, cross-country skiing tracks or mountain biking routes. The risks vary depending on the equipment, the group and the purpose of moving on the route.
Who is responsible for the safety of outdoor recreation routes?
The possessor of the outdoor recreation route is responsible for the route’s safety and draws up a safety document for the route. The route’s possessor may be a party such as a municipality, a village association, a ski resort, a hotel, a parish or a non-profit association. In practice, routes managed by different parties are often connected to each other, meaning that the possessors of the routes must cooperate to ensure the safety of the route system as a whole.
Documents in order
Draw up a safety document on outdoor recreation routes that have significant risks to the safety of those moving on the route or outsiders. For example, most nature trails located in urban areas or on level ground are clear and easy to travel, in which case it is not necessary to draw up a safety document. In contrast, a long hiking trail in the wilderness or in fell areas has greater risks and requires a safety document. Multipurpose use may increase the risks of the route and often requires a safety document. Multipurpose use means that many different kinds of equipment or forms of exercise are used on the route, such as walking, bicycling and skiing, possibly with dogs.
Drawing up a separate safety document for each individual outdoor recreation route is not necessarily required; instead, information on several routes can be compiled in one safety document. For example, all routes in one municipality or national park may have a common safety document.
Identify the risks
Identify the risks on the route. This requirement concerns all routes.
In identifying the risks, take account of each route’s special characteristics, the location and length of the route, the ways of moving on the route, the terrain, the structures, the number of visitors and the effects of weather conditions. If necessary, use a map to mark the dangerous places.
Dangerous spots on the routes may include:
- Steep hills or bluffs along the route
- Narrow passages, hairpin bends or other obstacles to vision
- Road crossings, bodies of water, ravines or other routes
- Places, where the route is broken up by a flood or a landslide
- Areas that often become targets of vandalism
Providing information to consumers
Provide the users of the route with the all information they need to act safely on the route.
Take care of the following issues, for instance:
- Naming the route and the locations
- Marking the starting point and guidance to the starting point
- Signboards: description of the route, its length and degree of difficulty, address of the starting point, safety and emergency instructions, information about the party maintaining the route
- Map boards: understanding the location and the directions
- Signage at the starting point, and at crossings, along the route and at specific locations
- Continuous route markers to ensure that people stay on the route
- Location markers at the starting point and resting places, at crossings and in special locations
- Warning and prohibition signs
Information package about outdoor recreation (in Finnish), the Finnish Outdoor Association (Suomen Latu)
Guide for planning hiking tourism (in Finnish), Outdoors Finland
Guide for planning bicycle tours (in Finnish), Outdoors Finland
Hyvän viitoittamisen perusteet (in Finnish), Metsähallitus
‘Asiakasturvallisuus luontopalveluissa’ (in Finnish) on customer safety in nature services, Metsähallitus
REILA project concerning the safety of route markers (in Finnish), the Lapland University of Applied Sciences and Metsähallitus