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Spotlight on the EuroVelo General Meeting 2023

Tuesday, October 24, 2023
The annual EuroVelo General Meeting took place on 11 October 2023 in Izmir, Türkiye, and online. It was, again, the largest one to date. Read on to learn more about the highlights of the meeting and some exciting news about the EuroVelo network.

The EuroVelo General Meeting (EVGM) is the annual gathering of National EuroVelo Coordination Centres (NECCs), together with the EuroVelo Management Team and the EuroVelo Council. It is the place where important decisions regarding the network and governance of the European cycle route network are taken.

In 2023, the EVGM took place just before the opening of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference, in the afternoon of 11 October, in Izmir, Türkiye. The meeting was held in a hybrid form, enabling NECCs and observers who could not travel to Izmir to join the discussions. Here are the highlights of the meeting.

Record-breaking participation from across Europe

Out of 23 National EuroVelo Coordination Centres, representatives from all NECCs registered to attend the EuroVelo General Meeting – an excellent display of commitment and willingness to get involved in the governance and development of EuroVelo. The meeting room, kindly provided by the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference co-host, Türkiye Tourism Promotion and Development Agency (TGA) was filled with almost 40 people. No less than 18 people joined the Zoom call, in what was the largest EVGM to date.

Together with the 23 valued NECCs, responsible for the development and promotion of EuroVelo in their own country, the EVGM is open to observers, meaning organisations from countries that do not have an NECC in place yet. This year, we were happy to welcome observers from Romania, Sweden, Estonia and Albania.

The EuroVelo General Meeting 2023 in-person participants. Izmir, 11 October 2023
The EuroVelo General Meeting 2023 in-person participants. Izmir, 11 October 2023

The EuroVelo Annual Report 2022 and Work Plan 2023

EuroVelo Manager Agathe Daudibon presented the EuroVelo Annual Report 2022, which summarises the achievements over the past year and is now available to consult in the resources section. ECF CEO Jill Warren gave an overview of the financial report and budget of the initiative, before giving the word again to Agathe, who introduced the Work Plan for 2023.

Bosnia and Herzegovina establishes a National EuroVelo Coordinator

The Center for Environment (CZZS), a Bosnian civil society organisation and ECF member, is the new National EuroVelo Coordinator (NEC) for Bosnia and Herzegovina! We are particularly happy to welcome CZZS to the EuroVelo family considering the long-standing involvement with ECF and engagement with the EuroVelo cause.

Although Bosnia and Herzegovina does not have any EuroVelo routes passing through the country yet, CZZS has been active for many years to connect Bosnia and Herzegovina to the EuroVelo network, and it may become a reality in the next years.

CZZS Director Tihomir Dakić presented the organisation and successfully managed to gather the support of local and state institutions, and of all voting NECCs! The addition of Bosnia and Herzegovina brings the total number of NECCs to 24 and contributes to the expansion of the network in south-eastern Europe.

You can read more about CZZS becoming a National EuroVelo Coordinator on their website.

Tihomir Dakić presents CZZS' application to become NEC for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Tihomir Dakić presents CZZS' application to become NEC for Bosnia and Herzegovina.

EuroVelo Council: a goodbye, and a welcome

The EVGM was the occasion to bid farewell to Camille Thomé, Vélo & Territoires Director, who sat on the EuroVelo Council for a record 12 years. Camille played a major role in the development and professionalisation of the initiative, and was thanked by ECF President Henk Swarttouw and all NECCs.

While thanking the EuroVelo family, Camille invited NECCs to “make EuroVelo a thing for them”, something that helps drive the change towards more cycling in every country and a “key to many doors” for advocacy and networking. Camille stressed that it is not goodbye forever: she will continue to sit on the ECF Board and represent the French NECC, and will still be following the development of EuroVelo closely.

Considering the vacant seat left by Camille Thomé, the EVGM voted to elect one new member of the EuroVelo Council. Among the shortlisted candidates, Karine Dupuy, CEO of France Vélo Tourisme was elected with an absolute majority of the votes. In her speech, Karine mentioned the role of cycling tourism in involving and developing communities and the ultimate importance of getting more and diverse people on bicycles.

Presentation of the Turkish NEC

As Türkiye was the host country of the EVGM, the local NEC, Enverçevko, had a special moment to present the development of EuroVelo routes. Adnan Cangir gave an overview of the organisation’s work to promote EuroVelo through projects, initiatives, and to the academic community and the local institutions. In particular, the NEC work focuses on cities (Istanbul, Izmir, Mersin, Gaziantep) and there is a willingness to upgrade to National EuroVelo Coordination Centre in the near future.

Adnan Cangir introduces the updates about the EuroVelo network in Türkiye.
Adnan Cangir introduces the updates about the EuroVelo network in Türkiye.

Open mic: exchange of challenges and achievements

The EuroVelo General Meeting is also the occasion for sharing challenges and achievements within the network. This part of the meeting is one of the most appreciated, considering that it is the only occasion for NECCs to all be around a table – be it real or virtual.

Among the successes presented, we must highlight that lots of countries have updated or created websites specifically dedicated to EuroVelo routes (Norway, Finland, Belgium, Denmark). In Norway, over 1,000 km of routes were signposted; notably, EuroVelo 5 in Belgium has been proclaimed Cycle Route of the Year, while EuroVelo 1 in Ireland has been formally launched. This year, moreover, the Spanish and Portuguese NECCs celebrated the announcement of the future EuroVelo 16 – Iberian Cycle Route, and the work to improve route accessibility and monitoring data continues respectively in the UK and France.

Among the challenges, they are essentially either political or related to access to funding to develop or improve long-distance cycle routes; in the case of Belgium, the struggle is to organise a single cycling tourism conference in a bilingual country; and to match the quality of routes with the number of cyclists in Denmark.

An invitation to the 2024 EuroVelo General Meeting

The EVGM concluded with an important Save the date: the next EVGM will be held in Viborg, Denmark, on 23 September, hosted by the Municipality of Viborg and Danish Cycling Tourism. Once again, the EVGM will be the prelude of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2024.

After this exciting announcement, it was the turn of another one: the opening of the call for applications to host the 2025 edition of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference and the EVGM, too. The support of an NECC is essential for a successful bid, and the EuroVelo Management Team invites interested cities/regions to request the bid manual and read more information on the EuroVelo for Professionals website.