The idea of creating a network of international cycle route network connecting Europe started back in 1995. Set out below are some of the key milestones in EuroVelo’s history:
Opening of national cycle route network in Denmark, one of the inspirations for EuroVelo.
The idea of establishing a European cycle route network was first discussed and Jens Erik Larsen of Foreningen Frie Fugle in Denmark starts to work on a proposal.
Conference on national cycle route networks in Amertsfort, the Netherlands on the 22nd February brings together for the first time many of the figures that will play a leading role in the creation of EuroVelo.
A working group within the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) was established during the AGM in Brussels (9th-11th June 1995) to look into creating a European cycle route network. The first meeting of the working group took place in Cheb in the Czech Republic on 15th September and it was chaired by Jens Erik Larsen. The other members of the working group were: Rein Lepik (Vänta Aga, Estonia), Chris Heymans (SLF, Norway), Richard König (ADFC, Germany) and Martin Robes (Czech and Slovak Trafic Club, Czech Republic).
Following the meeting in Cheb a initial map showing proposals for 12 European cycle routes was prepared. The route system was based on the same principles as the Danish national cycle routes, with north–south routes, east–west routes and round trips. A major task at this point was to find suitable contacts in as many European countries as possible to try and pin the route down in more detail.
On 10-11th May 1996, a conference was held on long distance cycle routes in Bruges, Belgium entitled Cycling without Borders, which brought together many of the key actors in national cycle routes from around Europe. Jens Erik gave a presentation on Possibilities for further development of the European Cycle Route network.”
At a meeting in Brussels in September, Jens Erik and Chris Heymans were joined by Phil Insall (Sustrans, UK), Marie Caroline (ECF) and Joaquin Jimenez (Spain) to prepare the EuroVelo map and logo to be presented at a launch event planned for 1997. Both the map and logo were drawn by Claudio Pedroni of FIAB in Italy.
An application was submitted to the European Commission (EC) for funding for the EuroVelo project. As part of the application, contributions were sought for match funding from many organizations, which helped in raising awareness about the network. The application was successful and it enabled a lot of work to be done on developing EuroVelo over the coming years (see 1998).
On 21st November, the EuroVelo project was officially ‘launched’ in Logrono, Spain. Robert Coleman, Director of Transport at the European Commission spoke and said: “International cycle tourism is already an economic force, and there is significant untapped potential here which could be released by an effective marketing strategy”.
The ECF, Sustrans and Foreningen Frie Fugle signed a contract for the management of the project. The work included regular communication about the project (e.g. printed newsletters); the preparation of a business plan for EuroVelo; various manuals related to organisation and route development; and feasibility studies for each route. The feasibility studies were carried out by various consultancies.
The first printed manual about the development and background of EuroVelo was published in June.
The first EuroVelo Newsletter was published in the spring. A second grant was received from the EC (DGVII Transport) to continue development of EuroVelo.
‘Opening’ of first EuroVelo route: the North Sea Cycle Route.
First EuroVelo Guidelines published
As part of an Interreg project focused on EuroVelo 6 – Atlantic-Black Sea, a new logo was created for the EuroVelo network.
In August, Sustrans and Foreningen Frie Fugle formally ‘gave’ the project over to the ECF and the EuroVelo Council is established as an advisory group for the ECF Board on EuroVelo matters.
The European Parliament asked: “…the Commission and the Member States to consider the EuroVelo-Network and Iron Curtain Trail as an opportunity for promoting European trans-border cycling infrastructure networks, supporting soft mobility and sustainable tourism.”
On 31st May, the UNECE WP.1 (United Nations Economic and Social Council, Working party on road safety and signalisation) incorporated the signalisation of the EuroVelo routes into the Consolidated Resolution on Road Signs and Signals (R.E.2).
Ádám Bodor (Hungary) is hired by the ECF as EuroVelo Project Manager and Cycling Tourism Policy Officer – the first full time member of staff with day-to-day responsibility for the network.
An EC-supported project enables the development of this website (EuroVelo.org) for professionals working on the development of the network.
In September, two new routes join the network: EuroVelo 13 – Iron Curtain Trail and EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route at an event in the European Parliament.
On 15th December, the European Parliament explicitly asked for EuroVelo to be included in the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) in their response to the European Commission’s White Paper on Transport. The motion stated “EuroVelo, the European long-distance cycle route network, should be included in the TEN-T network.”
Another successful application to the ECF enables the development of EuroVelo.com – the website for people wishing to cycle the routes – and a new EuroVelo overview map.
Over 40 representatives attend the Annual National EuroVelo Coordination Centres and Coordinators meeting in Vienna – a record figure.
References to EuroVelo and cycling generally are added to the TEN-T Guidelines for the first time ever following an extensive lobbying campaign by the ECF, its members and other supporters.
EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route becomes the first EuroVelo route to be certified.
A massive thank you to Jens Erik Larsen, Phil Insall and Rein Lepik for helping to put this story together.