EuroVelo keeps getting bigger! Following an application submitted by the Portuguese Federation of Cycletourism and Bicycle Users (FPCUB) it has been announced that from the 1st July 2016 the route will extend from Sagres in the South West all the way along the Portuguese Atlantic Coast to Caminha on the Portuguese/Spanish border (see the map on the left).
This extends EuroVelo 1 – the Atlantic Coast Route (map below) – which is a long distance cycle route currently running between Nordkap in northern Norway via Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, via some of the West Country, then over to France and down through Spain, to Sagres.
This 924 km extension will make EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route more than 9,000 km long. The itinerary of the Atlantic Coast Route links some of the world’s most beautiful coastal landscapes, including magnificent fjords, inviting beaches bathed in sunshine and bustling port cities full of activity. The route can be used by cycle tourists as well as by local communities for daily mobility.
The Portuguese FPCUB have been responsible for coordinating the EuroVelo project in Portugal for many years now and were keen to extend the network. At the end of 2013, they presented a proposal to the European Cyclist’s Federation (ECF) – who coordinate the network on the European level – for the extension of the EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route.
Following a three-year application process, the ECF have approved the proposed extension and it is hoped that the new European route can become a backbone of the national cycle route network in Portugal. During the first half of 2016, FPCUB will make the necessary preparations for the route joining the EuroVelo network, including developing a dedicated website for people wanting to cycle all or part of the route and installing the signing along the itinerary.
Filipe Beja, a sustainable mobility board member of FPCUB, explains that “the route will be divided into 18 sections allowing any bike user, from the inexperienced to the most prepared, to plan their travel, enjoying the cultural framework that the route offers. It is intended that the bike tourist can enjoy the landscape, fauna, flora, the typical gastronomy, the cultural heritage and well-being that cycling can provide.”
EuroVelo, the European cycle route network, is a network of 15 European routes that together connect and unify the continent. The routes are based wherever possible on existing national or regional cycle route networks. In Portugal, FPCUB are convinced about the route but José Manuel Caetano, FPCUB president, emphasises that “it will be important that the many relevant public entities, with their different competences and territories, work together to ensure the success of this project, which is of national importance.”
The addition of the Portuguese Atlantic coast to the EuroVelo 1 – Atlantic Coast Route will quite literally put Portugal on the map of European and world cycle tourism and will positively contribute to the numbers of visitors and the dynamics of local and regional economies along the route. The creation of jobs and business opportunities, while simultaneously promoting tourism and sustainable mobility, are the goals of FPCUB with this extension.
Cycle tourism already makes a significant contribution to the European economy. In Germany for example, the cycling tourism sector contributes over €9 billion per year to the German economy, which means that German cycling tourism generates 10% of all tourism incomes. In Europe as a whole, which is the world’s leading destination for cycle tourism, the economic contribution reaches €44 billion per year, which is comparable to the value generated by the market of the European cruise industry.
The decision to approve the Atlantic Coast Route extension was taken by the ECF’s EuroVelo Council on 11th February 2016 and will come into force on 1st July 2016. The proposal was submitted by FPCUB in cooperation with various partners in Portugal, in particular the Portuguese Government, which supported the project through the Secretary of State for Tourism, the Portuguese Tourist Board, Infrastructures de Portugal, Regional Tourism entities and the Inter-municipal Communities.
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