The European Certification Standard: A tool for improving the quality of EuroVelo routes
The upcoming annual EuroVelo Route Inspectors training in April 2022 will provide an opportunity for practitioners to find out more about how the tool could support their work.
What is the European Certification Standard?
The European Certification Standard (ECS) is a methodology for assessing the quality of long-distance cycling routes. It consists in a group of criteria against which survey data is evaluated. The criteria are divided into three categories: infrastructure (route components, surface, signing, public transport, etc.), services (accommodation, restaurants, bike repair shops, etc.) and marketing and promotion of the route. If the collected data meets the minimum criteria, then the route can get the certification label – meaning that it is a high-quality route of the EuroVelo network.
The data itself is collected in a survey on the field by a qualified route inspector. The inspector cycles along the route and uses the ECS application to register the route’s characteristics. The collected data is then stored in the EuroVelo Route Database and can be downloaded for analysis.
There are two goals to the ECS. First, to improve the quality of EuroVelo routes, through the analysis of collected data and the preparation of Route Development Reports. These can serve as a basis for decision-makers to make the right investments in order to improve the quality of the route. And secondly, to provide quality control for users, encouraging less experienced cyclists, families, cyclists with unusual bicycles, etc., to confidently plan a trip on the EuroVelo network.
But the ECS methodology is not tied to EuroVelo routes only. It can be applied to any long-distance cycling routes and is especially useful as a tool to identify investment needs for routes at an early development stage. The ECS can serve as a basis for developing national or regional cycle route networks, or to compare two possible cycling corridors in the planning of a long-distance route.
A little bit of history
ECF began working on developing the ECS methodology back in 2011. Initially, the data was collected using pen and paper but the first version of the ECS app was introduced in 2014 to make life considerably easier for the inspectors ! Ever since 2015, ECF has held a EuroVelo Route Inspectors training course with 172 people having taken part to date!
With the development of the new EuroVelo website in 2018-2019 the EuroVelo route database was significantly improved, and an updated version of the ECS app was developed in parallel. Data collected through the app can now be uploaded directly to the EuroVelo route database, meaning that all EuroVelo data is stored in the same place. For more EuroVelo history you can consult this page.
Revamped ECS manuals: what’s new ?
In the end of 2021, a brand new ECS manual was released, titled Quality criteria for long-distance cycle routes. This manual contains a short but thorough summary of the ECS goals and criteria, as well as the survey methodology for data collection and evaluation and the certification process.
A longer version of the manual, the European Certification Standard Handbook for Route Inspectors, is available for route inspectors and other relevant partners.
The ECS manuals have been updated according to the changes made to the ECS methodology and app, which resulted from the experience accumulated over years of using this methodology. We also took into account the feedbacks received from EuroVelo Route Inspectors and other partners, tried to make the texts clearer and the design more engaging!
Stay tuned for the next EuroVelo Route Inspectors training!
This year's EuroVelo Route Inspectors training will take place in the second half of April 2022, but the exact date and place are still to be confirmed. Subscribe to the EuroVelo newsletter for professionals to be kept informed and notified of the opening of the registrations!
Participants in these trainings learn the theoretical framework of the ECS methodology and criteria, and how to survey long-distance cycling routes using the ECS application in a field exercise.
You can also contact the EuroVelo Management Team at [email protected] to pre-register to the training or request additional information.