70,000km European cycleways online [en]

11.03.2013: (Article by Andy Carlin, published on neurope.eu on March 10th) Europeans have had a long love affair with the bicycle and today it‘s even more popular as people choose to keep fit and healthy while opting for a low carbon alternative. It’s not just for work either, as cycling holidays are also increasing in popularity.

Europeans have had a long love affair with the bicycle and today it‘s even more popular as people choose to keep fit and healthy while opting for a low carbon alternative.

It’s not just for work either, as cycling holidays are also increasing in popularity.

As the long, cold winter begins to end, people are considering their holiday idea for the year, and cyclists, and long distance walkers, might like to take advantage ofa network of trans european cycle paths, some 70,000 km in length. The popularity of cycling breaks will suprise many. It‘s calculated that there are almost 2.3 billion cycling tourism trips in Europe, with an economic valie of 44 billion a year.

In Germany alone, there were 607 million day trips and over 4.6 million overnight trips.

Details about the network, the Euro Velo is now avaliable on a dedicated website,www.eurovelo.com, launched by the European Cyclists Federation.

"As a cycle tourist, I used to spend a lot of time searching the web to find the information I needed.” says Adam Bodor, EuroVelo Director at ECF.

"But now with the launch of EuroVelo.com, the days of having an endless list of bookmarks in my browser should be in the past, as the website provides links to be best sources of information in each country. This is a big step forward for EuroVelo and cycle tourism in Europe,” he adds.

Bodor continues, "Prepare you panniers; there are no more excuses to not go on a bicycle holiday.”

The network is the result of dedicated national teams, not only helping set up the network, but also advocating cycling as a healthy lifestyle choice. It is partly financed by the EU.

Ilona Lelonek Husting from the Tourism Policy Unit says, "The European Commission encourages the diversification of tourism offer and recognises the role played by cycling in the development of sustainable, environmentally friendly tourism. EuroVelo network of cycle routes is a good example of the type of initiative of European dimension involving the cooperation of different countries and many types of stakeholders.”

Perhaps the most symbolic of the routes is the Iron Curtain Trail which traces the route of the old border between the West and Warsaw Pact countries.

Experts believe that a million people a year will holiday on all or part of the route, which added to the estimated 5.3 million day trips, could mean a half billion euro boost for regional economies, many still hampered by their proximity to the former border, not areas that exactly attracted investment during the Cold War. So, if you‘d like to travel from Northern Norway to Athens, or from Moscow to Galway check out the website, www.eurovelo.com.