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Highlights: Cycle highways and cycle tourism – is there a synergy?

04.10.2018
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The cycle highway session on the EuroVelo and cycle tourism conference focused on identifying synergies between cycle highways and cycle tourism. Adam Bodor, ECF Advocacy and EuroVelo Director, opened the session with stressing the importance of good quality cycling infrastructure for the development of cycle tourism.

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Bert Celis, co-founder of, and Innovation Manager at the Flanders’ Bike Valley started his presentation with the vision of cycle highways as backbones of cycling networks and important component of mobility system in 2030.

“Our dream is that in 2030 you will see a lot of cycle highways. We also see a lot of hubs coming.”

He predicted a growing role of speed-pedelecs, 200 times more efficient than electric cars and significantly extending the range of cycling. He followed with presenting a variety of activities carried out in the Cycle Highways Innovation for smarter People Transport and Spatial Planning (CHIPS) project. Flanders’s Bike Valley together with diverse project partners from North-Western Europe (including ECF) organises Cycle Highway Academies to gather professionals working in the area, exchange experiences, ideas and latest developments. Another example of a CHIPS product is Maturity Assessment Tool, a set of 20 criteria evaluating different aspects of cycle highway’s quality, such as cohesion, lack of interruptions, sheltering, services or social safety, on four levels each.

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Monica Silvestrini, coordinator of the Mobility Department at the Province of Limburg, presented her experiences in working with municipalities on implementing cycle highway network in the Province. She started with the observation that both cycle highways and touristic networks need to meet the same set of criteria: cohesion, safety, comfort, attractiveness and directness, with only slightly adjusted priorities. Developing routes that can fulfil both roles can increase the return on investments. Monica gave concrete examples of how this is put into practice: cycling bridge across canal lock in Godsheide in Hasselt (link of cycle highways F72 and F702), improvements on cycle highways F74 (“Railwayline 18”) or F5 (“Route canal Albert”). Many cycle highways lead along existing line infrastructures such as canals and (former) railways, through quiet and often rural environments, offering both safe and enjoyable riding experience.

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Bart Jansen from Witteveen+Bos presented “Cycle Highway Accelerator” – a design tool for evaluating different route options using a web-based portal. “By making sure that new bicycle highways meet ambitious design requirements, they will attract more cyclist” – was one of the observations motivating the development of the tool. The accelerator works by combining different datasets and programs, includes risk analysis regarding permits, land acquisition and utility infrastructure, conformity with design requirements and cost.

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Aleksander Buczyński, ECF Infrastructure Officer, concluded the session with a presentation of the lobbying work that ECF does on the European Road Infrastructure Safety Management (RISM) framework and the latest developments regarding the update of the RISM directive. He showed examples of good and bad practice on the Trans-European (TEN-T) road network, explaining how they are affecting cycle highways or cycle tourism, and how better RISM could help the development of both. Integrating elements of cycling infrastructure in big road construction projects could significantly reduce the implementation costs of routes for active mobility.

Aleksander praised the general direction of the recently published European Commission’s proposal of amending the RISM directive, but also listed several tweaks still necessary to change the road safety perspective from driver-only to all road users. “Many Member States lack the knowledge on how to consider the needs of cyclists. EU level guidance, including minimum quality standards, is necessary, to avoid wasting public money on infrastructure that is not safe for cyclists” – he concluded.