Frosty gathering for AtlanticOnBike partners in Ireland
AtlanticOnBike aims to develop EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route, enhance and value its quality traits – its varied and unique natural landscape and cultural heritage, as well as boost transnational cooperation. The initial AtlanticOnBike project (2017-2020), funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area programme of the European Union, has been granted a 16-month extension until June 2023. The partnership involves 8 institutions from the 6 European countries crossed by EuroVelo 1, as well as the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF), which manages EuroVelo. For more information on the project and the partnership, visit the dedicated page on the EuroVelo for Professionals website.
Following a partner meeting in Bristol in June, project partners convened again in Limerick, Ireland, from 14 to 15 December 2022. They updated each other on the progress of their tasks and deliverables and planned the next steps before the project conclusion in June 2023 and the final partner meeting, which will take place in France in the same month.
The Limerick meeting was planned by Derek O’Neill, the lead contact at the Irish Department of Transport, who suddenly passed away in October. Derek’s long-standing commitment to the AtlanticOnBike project and passion for the Atlantic Coast Route were remembered in a touching tribute shared by the ECF team, Doug Corrie (Sport Ireland) and other project partners.
On the first day, representatives of the partner organisations presented the work carried out to produce the project deliverables in all six Work Packages and introduced the planned steps to successfully deliver the outstanding ones by the project end date. Among other results, FPCUB presented the route survey using the European Certification Standard and advocacy work, ConBici discussed the creation of a new website for the route in Spain, the Norwegian Public Road Administration reported on their work to make EuroVelo best known among local Norwegian stakeholders in tourism and transport, while La Vélodyssée introduced their “technical days” and the passport for cycle tourists. Sport Ireland and Sustrans discussed route surveys and the various methodologies, while ECF staff presented the work done on transnationally relevant documents such as the Guidance document on rest areas, route planner, survey data import module, user monitoring work in cooperation with Eco-Counter, as well as the dissemination events planned for 2023.
The first half of the second day should have been dedicated to a bike ride on the Limerick Greenway. Due to the exceptional frosty conditions in Ireland, a safer – but still freezing cold – visit to some locations on the Limerick Greenway was preferred. Guided by a representative of the Limerick City Council, project partners could explore sections of the newly restored greenway, built on a former railway connecting villages, and check out the rest area in the village of Ardagh, restored tunnels, and stunning views over the rolling Irish countryside.
In the afternoon of the second day, a workshop on data conversion brought all participants around the table to share knowledge about the amount and type of data collected by their organisations and how this data could be better integrated and used as part of the EuroVelo database and website. Thanks to a set of questions for reflection, the workshop clarified which type of data and structure is available in every country and paved the way for the easier development of a route survey data import module. In the long run, this concept will help create a framework that can be applied to other EuroVelo routes and partnerships.
AtlanticOnBike partners will gather again in June 2023, on the Atlantic coast of France, to wrap up the project. The final results and deliverables will be presented, while future options and ways to strengthen the partnership will be explored.