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EuroVelo in Montenegro – the land of the black mountains

31.10.2017
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Last month EuroVelo Council Member Jens Erik Larsen visited Montenegro.  Here he reports back on his experiences in this increasing popular (cycle) tourist destination and in particular the development of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route.

Montenegro reappeared as a country in 2006 after it separated from Serbia. The small country houses approximately 700,000 inhabitants and “European development” has already begun, including the use of Euro – and too many cars!

In late September, I was invited to speak about the development of cycle routes in Europe at a conference organised as part of European Mobility Week.  I also participated in several connected workshops and events on bicycles.

Meeting

All these were held in the country’s capital Podgorica. From some angles the city looks like a large village, located in a valley between mountains. It is possible to ride a bike there but the car culture is overwhelming. There are parked cars everywhere, including on the sidewalks in many places, and it seems that each family owns 3 cars. So there is some work to do to develop a bicycle culture but the cyclists’ organization www.biciklo.me works well for the cause.

Bike lane and standsThere were also some narrow bicycle paths or red-painted cycle tracks along several roads. Bicycle parking was also established in some places. A few central streets are actually closed for car traffic after 5 pm and the city’s traffic planner said at the conference that he was open to talking to cyclists and listen to their suggestions for further cycle development.

The route of EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route through Montenegro was presented by Biciklo during one of the workshops. The proposal is that it will run parallel to the coast – in keeping with the theme of the route – and therefore will not come through the capital. When completed it is expected that the Montenegrin section will be almost 200 km. UNDP (United Nations Development Project) is an important partner and has provided funding for route planning. Therefore, the workshop was held in their distinguished glass building next to the Moraca River. My job was to introduce the EuroVelo project in general and provide advice on further work.

One afternoon there was an opportunity to take a bike ride up to the beautiful black mountains surrounding Podgorica with a couple of the guys from Biciklo. You do not need to go far out of city before the steep climbs start! We climbed some 500 meters and covered 30 kms in total passing through Medun and the village of Ubli.  We arrived back in the small capital just before the twilight came down from the black mountains and said goodnight to the city.