All Routes Lead to EuroVelo

EuroVelo Workshop - Route Inauguration

Over 10,000 kilometres were added to the European Cycle Route Network when two new cycle routes were officially inaugurated at a EuroVelo Workshop held in the European Parliament in Brussels on 15th September.  EU officials, parliamentarians, tourism officers, academics and route planners and coordinators all gathered to discuss a strategy for achieving a completed EuroVelo network by 2020.

The first of the two new routes added to the network was the famous Iron Curtain Trail (EV13), which spans over 9000 kilometres and crosses 20 countries, tracing the remnants of the Iron Curtain which divided Europe for almost half a century. The second was the Rhine Route (EV15), which follows the Rhine River running from Switzerland, via Germany and France to the Netherlands, treating cycling tourists with spectacular views of castles and wine yards along the away.  Both itineraries can now be signposted with EuroVelo signage.  It brings the total number of EuroVelo routes to 14.

Bringing Europe’s vast collection of cycle routes under the one umbrella is no easy task, taking extensive cooperation on the international and local level, requiring a complex understanding of local traffic codes and politics. But having a unified EU network of bicycle routes pays dividends. Melanie Wicht Matas, who manages the Rhein Route says that EuroVelo branding has a “huge added value”.

“It’s not very easy to market on a trans-national level, but we’re very happy that this challenge has been taken up,” explains Ms Wicht Matas, “This network is just great to reach all the important actors”

The estimated economic impact of the EuroVelo Network is €5 billion annually,” notes Adam Bodor, manager of the EuroVelo Network, “it’s becoming a mainstream form of sustainable tourism and there are 12.5 million holiday trips per year and 33.3 million day excursions.” An estimated 3% of all holidays in the EU are done by bicycle.

Michael Cramer, Greens’ MEP from Germany and the brainchild behind the ‘Iron Curtain Trail’ was keen to highlight the advantages of cycling and cycle tourism: “We all know that those who’ll master the future know the past. The Iron Curtain Trail is a wonderful example of riding amongst history, culture, politics and nature.”

“Cycle tourism is not only of ecological importance,” Mr Cramer explains, “And when considering that a cycle tourist spends more money a day than a tourist travelling by car, it is obvious that cycle tourism is important for economic reasons and especially for local businesses.”