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Crossing the Pyrenees for the final meeting of the BICIMUGI project

Tuesday, May 31, 2022
We often say that EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, represents cycling without borders. For the participants in the final project meeting of the EU-Funded BICIMUGI project, this was quite literally the case, as the meeting started in France but then ended in Spain following a ride along EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route!

The BICIMUGI project partners together with other local authorities and stakeholders gathered close to the national border in the Pyrenees to celebrate the project’s many achievements. With a morning meeting held in Estérençuby/Esterenzubi on the French side and an afternoon meeting in Orbaizeta on the Spanish side, this event was a true symbol of transborder cooperation!

This event brought together the eight partners from both sides of the border as well as representatives of the municipalities, local agents and other stakeholders who have participated in the different activities covered by the project. As part of the project, the regions of Navarra (Spain) and the Pyrenees-Atlantiques (France) have developed the section of the EuroVelo 3 cycle route on both sides of the border to "promote cycling for sustainable mobility and territorial development in rural areas of the Pyrenees".

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Project partners gathered at the French-Spanish border on EuroVelo 3 - Pilgrims Route, among the splendid Pyrenees mountains

The Second Vice President of the Government of Navarra, José María Aierdi, and the President of the French Department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Jean-Jacques Lasserre, opened the institutional event on Tuesday 17th in which they stressed the commitment to promote their shared section of the EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route as it crosses the Pyrenees.

Later that day, Aierdi and Lasserre also presided the closing ceremony of the BICIMUGI project which was held in the former royal weapons and ammunitions factory of Orbaizeta close to the town of Estérençuby/Esterenzubi.

ECF presenting achievements in the BICIMUGI project in Estérençuby, Pyrénées-Atlantiques
Second part of the closing seminar in Orbaizeta, Navarra

An axis for sustainable development

Aierdi highlighted the work carried out in favor of sustainable mobility and universal accessibility and has emphasised that "EuroVelo 3 represents an axis for sustainable territorial development, thanks to the development of services and infrastructures and other measures that will generate activity throughout the territory, which is especially necessary in rural areas."

In addition, he declared that BICIMUGI is "The best example of what we can achieve with the effort and collaboration of the Government of Navarra and the rest of the local institutions and entities to generate activity with significant potential for territorial development, agrotourism, local economy and the promotion of local products and the enhancement of the natural environment." Indeed, the collaboration between all the different stakeholders has been key to the success of the project.

For his part, Lasserre stated that "The BICIMUGI project is exceptional for regional development. This project symbolises our desire to work on cross-border issues. In the times we’re living in, everything that symbolises European construction and the efforts to bring people together is full of meaning. Through this project, we are giving substance to a European ambition."

The BICIMUGI project is co-funded by the Interreg POCTEFA Programme

The closing ceremony of BICIMUGI was attended by the eight project partners, the Pyrenees-Atlantiques Department, Nasuvinsa-Lursarea, the municipalities of Saint-Palais and Esterençuby, the Basque Country Tourism Office, the Béarn Tourist Attraction and Development Agency Pays Basque, the Mancomunidad of the Pamplona Region and the European Cyclists’ Federation.

The BICIMUGI project, co-funded by the Interreg POCTEFA Programme, is ending in May 2022, after over two years’ common work on developing cycling tourism and making it accessible to all in a transborder rural territory crossed by EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route. The area covered by this project extends the Basque Country in the French and Spanish sides of the Pyrenees. A collaboration between the department of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, and the Spanish Community of Navarra and the Basque Country. ECF was a partner in the project, bringing European expertise cycling tourism related topics and on the assessment of cycling routes quality and economic impact assessment.

This closing event gave the opportunity to all project partners to present their achievements in the frame of the project. Among the main deliverables were:

  • The development of hundreds of kilometers of dedicated cycle paths connecting rural villages to EuroVelo 3 – Pilgrims Route;
  • The creation of educational tools to improve the promotion of cycling and cycle tourism among young people;
  • Cycling awareness workshops destined to children in the rural schools, women, elderly people and people with reduced mobility;
  • The provision of 15 electric bicycles for residents and visitors in the hotels of the Estérençuby valley;
  • The set-up of a referential of facilities to make it easier for all, including people with reduced mobility, to access cycling holidays;
  • The participation of two disabled cyclists in the Transpyr race;
  • Work with existing services and enterprises to develop cycling friendly services.

242 Km of cycling infrastructure

The BICIMUGI project has made it possible to improve nearly 83 km of the Pilgrims Route: 14 km in Pyrenees-Atlantiques, with the other 69 km in Navarra. The latter corresponds to 57 km between the Organbide pass to Aoiz with the remaining 12 km within the Commonwealth of the Pamplona Region.

A cyclist on EuroVelo 3 - Pilgrims Route in the Pyrenees
The BICIMUGI Project is co-funded by the Interreg POCTEFA Programme
The BICIMUGI Project is co-funded by the Interreg POCTEFA Programme