www AlpineRoads com Biking In The Alps
FAQ - Documents, Money etc
You will be expected to carry with you while on the bike :
I was recently told (today actually, after he pulled me in for
speeding) by an Austrian traffic "gendarm" that technically the British driving
licence is invalid in Austria. That is, both the older
pink-and-green paper jobbie and the new credit-card type. The first because
there's no photo of the driver on it and the second because Austria doesn't
accept the new format yet. This wasn't the case a few years ago, and only
changed when Austria "improved" its regulations in about 2000. This means UK
drivers technically have to have an International Driver's Permit as well just
like any other non-EU citizen. The good news is that 95% of the police that are
likely to stop you don't know this. The other 5% will probably let you off
anyway as you're on holiday. I'll try and keep up to date on this situation.
The old E111 has, or is in the process of becoming obsolete and being replaced in most EU countries by a credit-card European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which
will cover you for medical treatment. Otherwise you'll have to pay up-front,
before you get treated. In an emergency, of course, you'll be treated first,
then they'll ask you for the money. It provides basic medical cover in all EU countries and Switzerland.
Unlike the UK where you only really have to worry about the insurance company - unless someone is hurt, on the Continent most countries require you to call the police to any accident. You are normally expected to leave any vehicles/debris/bodies etc exactly where they are and NOT to clear the road to allow traffic to flow. If you do move anything, make sure you have photographed the scene before you do. Normally it's the Police who'll decide who's fault it is, then the insurance companies have to pay up. Make sure you have a copy of the international accident report form stuffed into your luggage or under the seat. Make sure it gets filled-out properly. If you don't you haven't got a chance of a claim when you get home.
If you see an accident it is your duty by law to stop and offer
first aid to any injured. You can be heavily fined if you do not. Of if
you leave the scene of an accident before the police or emergency services
Unlike the UK where all emergency services can be reaced on the 999
number, most mainland European countries have separate numbers for each
between European Community countries are usually unmanned and no
passport needs to be shown. In fact, most are now deserted. You will probably
need to show a passport between Switzerland and other counties(if not, they'll
likely have customs guards waiting a few miles inside he border to nab
smugglers), into and out of the Livigno region (I) and also on the Slovenian
border (That's the one I crashed doing a ton Oops!).
Well, it's all over bar the shouting: most of the Alpine countries are
using the Euro (€). That is going to make things a darn site easier and
the endless hours spent trying to work out who owes whom how much and for what
will be a thing of the past. In theory. Of course Switzerland will still have
the Swiss Franc, but everywhere will accept the Euro anyway.
It came into circulation on the 1st January 2002 but by the time anyone
on a bike gets there the original currencies will have gone.
In Germany, Austria , and German speaking Switzerland it's called
Benzin. Unleaded (Bleifrei, Sans plomb, Senza Piombo) is available
everywhere, Leaded isn't. Watch out for Italy on Sundays and lunch time during
the week, most of the petrol stations are closed and the few that are open only
have automatic machines taking Lire notes. In Switzerland some are permanently
unmanned and automatic. Some take credit cards. France, Germany and Austria are
easier, taking cash and credit cards. So make sure you have enough notes in
various denominations. Visa and Master Card are the normal ones used in Europe.
"American Express? you'll be lucky sir".
Called the "Vignette" (vee-nyett-eh) in Austria and Switzerland, you should purchase one BEFORE you ride on to the motorway. They can be bought at border crossings, and most newsagents and post-offices, as well as from the motoring clubs like the Swiss STC, Austria, ÖAMTC and ARBÖ, and the German ADAC, and of course all motorway service stations. They are only worth getting if you really want to cover miles quickly in bad weather - otherwise why waste all those good roads ?
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have tolls for the motorway, but motorbikes are excempt.
Watch out in Hungary, the year's motorway pass costs a scorching 29.000 Forint (€118,40) ! A week's ticket costs 1.900 Forint (€7.75).