As we enter 2022, there are more signed EuroVelo routes and more people cycling them than ever before. There is also more financial support for developing the infrastructure and greater recognition of the network in plans, policies and guidance. In this end of year review, we pick out the five highlights from the coordination of the network on the European level over the past twelve months.
EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2021, Barcelona.
From the 5 to 7 October, professionals working on cycling tourism from across Europe met at Barcelona for the fifth edition of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference. With 308 participants joining in person and 65 joining online, it was the largest edition so far - more than double to is previous event held in Limburg in 2018. It was also the first EuroVelo Conference delivered in a hybrid format and featured more than 50 speakers in 9 sessions, plus 8 technical visits, an exhibition, and several memorable social events.
If you couldn't join us for the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2021 in Barcelona, or you would like to watch again a favourite presentation, you can now access videos of all the sessions at your own pace via the official CICLOBCN21 website.
Next year we will share the Call for cities to apply to become the host of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2023. Stay tuned for more information!
Launching the EuroVelo Data Hub
Gathering data for monitoring and evaluation is crucial for the development of cycle route networks. Thanks to a new collaboration with Eco-Counter, which started in February 2021, it is possible to monitor the usage of the EuroVelo network for the first time ever. The inaugural EuroVelo Barometer was published in Velo-city 2021 Lisboa and by the end of November it was possible to calculate that during the first 10 months of the year there has been a general growth of 2% on the EuroVelo Network, including a 12% increase at weekends (compared with the same period in 2019), suggesting that much of this growth can be connected to tourism and leisure use.
In another first, 2021 also saw the publication of a EuroVelo Routes Development Status report. This vital work will enable us to track progress in the development of the network over the coming years. We have also continued to collect and publish data on the EuroVelo website and social media reach with record numbers being reported again. In February we were able to report that there was a 21.5% increase in visitors to our websites in 2020 (surpassing the growth registered the previous year), totalling over 1.64 million users and 2 million sessions. All these data sets can now be accessed via our brand new dedicated page: The EuroVelo Data Hub.
Communication campaign for #MoreCyclingTourism
Throughout the summer months we wanted to highlight that #MoreCycling will reduce the negative impacts of travel and that #MoreCyclingTourism has the potential to actually generate ripples of positive effects in destinations by restoring life and ecosystems, supporting the creation of vibrant communities, and boosting local economies. Of course it's also a fun and unforgettable way to discover new places! Read more about the campaign here.
As well as targeting tourism destinations we also asked our followers to inspire others to plan a cycling trip for their holidays by sharing: ‘Why there should be #MoreCyclingTourism’. We were very happy to see the engagement of cyclists in the campaign and after 5 months we counted over 590 hashtag mentions with a social media reach of over 800,000.
Supporting the development of EuroVelo routes
As well as coordinating the development of the entire network on the European level, the ECF also works with national and regional partners to develop particular routes for transnational audiences. During 2021, two of these ‘long-term management agreements’ (LTMAs) were set up related to EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route and EuroVelo 8 – Mediterranean Route. These built on the successful partnerships established in previous EU projects and joined the existing LTMAs in place for EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Routeand EuroVelo 19 – Meuse Cycle Route.
Although each LTMA has different priorities, broadly speaking they include activities related to infrastructure, public transport, services, communication and promotion, monitoring and organisational tasks for each route on the transnational level. The LTMAs raise the profile of the specific routes to international markets.
Through the implementation of the promotional and marketing activities, all four of the routes with LTMAs witnessed significant growth in terms of web sessions and users in 2021, with all of them featuring in the top five most popular routes on EuroVelo.com.
Strengthening the network’s governance
The first ever full EuroVelo General Meeting (EVGM) was held on Tuesday 5th October in Barcelona. Due to the ongoing Covid restrictions in many places in Europe, the event was organised in a hybrid format, which enabled the representatives of all but one of the NECC/Cs to join the meeting either in-person or online with 44 participants in total. This was the best coverage of the network that we have ever achieved in our annual meetings. Three new EuroVelo Council members were elected: Marie Secrétant, Jesper Pørksen and Frank Hofmann. A National EuroVelo Coordination Centre for Greece joined the NECC/Cs network. They were the first to be approved directly by the EVGM through the process mapped out in the new EuroVelo Governance. We also bid a fond farewell to Jens Erik Larsen and Phil Insall, who were recognised for their extraordinary contribution to the development of cycling in Europe.
Much more besides
Beyond these five highlights, the last twelve months also saw lots of other new developments. These included the publication of a new version of the EuroVelo business opportunities guide, which has been fully updated and expanded. It provides an overview of how businesses can promote themselves alongside the largest cycle route network in the world!
There was also an update to ECF’s EuroVelo Management Team in 2021! This year we welcomed two new EuroVelo and Projects’ Officers – Marta Orihuel from Spain and Ivan Ratkovic from Serbia. The roles of the existing team members evolved and we also benefitted from the invaluable support of three EuroVelo Interns during the year. Learn more about the EuroVelo Management Team here.