DENMARK'S OLDEST CYCLE PATH
The cycle path between Ringkøbing and Søndervig is historically quite unique and stands out for being the first in Denmark to have its own route, that is, with its own alignment and not in connection with a street or road.
As early as the spring of 1918, the Tourist Association for Ringkøbing and the surrounding area discussed a plan to construct an approximately 9-kilometre cycle and footpath between Ringkøbing and Søndervig.
At the beginning of this century, Denmark was the country where the bicycle was most widespread. In 1892, Ringkøbing experienced for the first time that a lady on a "bicycle" jogged through the city's streets!! In the same year, Aarhus Bicycle Club held a bicycle race from Aarhus over Silkeborg to Ringkøbing, but the bicycle was a sight to see – for sure – in 1895 a well-known Ringkøbing citizen signed himself in the guest book at Søndervig Badehotel as: "JP Laursen, cyclist".
At the time, it was estimated that the cycle path could be built for DKK 1.000, but the real price was DKK 37.000! Despite the fact that 28 landowners donated land for the trail and only five received payment.
In collaboration with Ringkøbing Municipality, an executive committee was set up for the cycle path, which raised money for roads in various ways, primarily through private collections and at a bazaar. In the spring of 1920, the construction of the cycle path began, and in the summer of 1922 it could be put into use.
It was a big problem to raise money for the maintenance of the cycle path, and therefore a toll was demanded from people to travel on it. The boom house was located on the cycle path approximately 6,5 kilometers from Ringkøbing and three kilometers from Søndervig.
The tickets cost 25 øre for adults and 15 øre for children return, while a season ticket cost DKK 2 for adults and DKK 1 for children. You could also buy a family card for DKK 8. On an ordinary September Sunday in the 1920s, 600 cyclists passed the toll house. The collection of tolls only stopped around 1939-1940, and Laurids Bøndergaard contested the post all those years. In Laurids Bøndergaard's letter of employment it stated, among other things, :" Laurids Bøndergaard takes over control of the traffic on the cycle path from and including Easter until 1 October, every morning from no later than 10.00 and every afternoon.
Laust, as the tollman was called, was born in Holmsland and had owned the farm Bøndergård a little east of Kloster, but sold it in 1920 and moved to Østre Strandgade in Ringkøbing. From here he cycled every day (he had no days off from Easter to October) out to the toll house.
Otto Schelin from Hvingel near Ringkøbing, writes on 13 December 2007, in a reader's letter to Dagbladet Ringkøbing Skjern, that he can still smell the scent from when he cycled on the stretch in the early 1930s. Otto Schelin recalls that you had to pay 15 øre in tax to drive through, and that it was exciting if the tollman was there, if not, then you got off for free and had a little extra for soda or ice cream in Søndervig!
The path was repeatedly damaged by wind and weather, by farmers' machines and during the war by the Germans. The Tourist Association's coffers quickly ran out in connection with maintenance of the cycle path and the Tourist Association worked hard to get Holmsland municipality to take over the maintenance of the cycle path, which happened permanently in 1976, after a five-year trial period, when it was admitted as a public path. In connection with the municipal merger in 2007, the cycle path was taken over by Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality.
Source: Hardsyssel's Yearbook, 1996