From the North Cape to Portugal by pedal power
European cycling route network takes shape
March 08, 2023
How about an 11,500 km long bicycle tour along Europe’s Atlantic coast. The route from the North Cape to Portugal is part of the EuroVelo cycling route network which, driven by European institutions, has been in the making for over 20 years. 64 per cent of the more than 90,000 kilometre long network is ready for use, said Agathe Daudibon of the ECF EuroVelo management team on Wednesday at ITB Berlin 2023. She encouraged tour operators to promote it more and develop corresponding products.
The project covering 17 routes across 38 countries aims to not only make Europe grow closer together. Cycling, whether daily or on holiday, is said to be beneficial in almost every respect. In addition to the well-known effects on one’s health and the environment, a 2018 survey found that cycle tours could potentially generate 44 billion euros in turnover Europe-wide. In 2021, bicycle manufacturing and sales alone totalled 23 billion euros.
The European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), a transnational umbrella organisation, was established in 1983. It combines 60 NGOs from more than 40 countries. Among other things it examines and discusses how new developments impact implementation of the cycling route strategy – through the rise in e-bikes for instance. On a positive note, Daudibon noted that e-bikes potentially increased the chances of getting nearly everyone on a bike. This could bring the abilities of tour group members to practically the same level and make their experience together more pleasant. On the other hand the additional weight and dependence on charging points created new challenges.
Switching transport modes remained a problem for cycle tourists, if for example they wanted to travel across mountains or cities by train. Taking bicycles on a train was not necessarily easy. Daudibon praised Switzerland for its exemplary services. And although the network had been set up in 1997 it was nowhere near completion, in fact it had not even been signposted everywhere. In order to make a start she suggested Route 19 along the river Meuse, which was not as challenging as Route 1 on the Atlantic. It runs for over 1,000 kilometres across eastern France, through Belgium and the Netherlands from Langres to Rotterdam and is signposted throughout.