The European Parliament has commissioned a second study into the benefits of cycling tourism. ECF Cycling Tourism Policy Officer, Ed Lancaster reports.
The authors of the ground-breaking 2009 study “The European Cycle Route Network, EuroVelo: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism” have been commissioned by the European Parliament to update their work.
When originally published, it caught the interest of the cycling community and the wider world, as it estimated that there were 2,795 billion cycle tourism trips in Europe with a value in excess of €54 billion per annum. It went on to estimate that, if completed, the EuroVelo network itself could account for 45.2 million cycle tourism trips, generating a total of almost €5 billion of direct revenue.
According to Prof. Richard Weston, (one of the authors of both the original study and this year’s update), the new study will “reflect on changes to the EuroVelo network, especially the Iron Curtain Trail (EV13), and the wider impacts of the Lisbon Treaty”.
Cycling Tourism had long been considered a niche market, but the original study blew away this myth. It changed the way that cycling tourism is marketed with emphasis now given to its economic benefits, in addition to the usual health, environmental and social arguments.
Before it was commissioned, the EuroVelo project was just beginning to garner the support that it now enjoys. Yes, people always assumed that cycling tourism had many benefits. Yes, people believed that it was good for both the communities along the routes, as well as the cyclists themselves. But sadly, we had no evidence to show it. there were no detailed studies to back these observations up, especially not on an international level.
Cycling Tourism Survey
As part of the review they are repeating the online survey of cycling ‘experts’. The views of experts in the field are important in shaping their conclusions. It should take about 10 minutes to complete. The survey is available in three languages:
Survey results will be published in the updated report in 2012. Any questions can be directed to Dr Richard Weston.
Since the completion of the original study, DG ENTR (the part of the European Commission that deals with Enterprise and Tourism) has co-financed several projects supporting the central coordination of EuroVelo, as well as a number specific route development projects. This has enabled a significant improvement in the organisation of EuroVelo. In addition, the Iron Curtain Trail has joined the EuroVelo network (as EuroVelo 13) and pressure continues to grow for EuroVelo to be included in the TEN-T network – just last December the European Parliament asked again for its inclusion in their response to the Transport White Paper.
Progress with the other tasks on the orginal study’s ‘To Do List’ has been a little slower – a monitoring framework for cycling tourism has yet to be developed, the model that had been developed to assess the impact of cycling tourism has not been maintained and a appraisal of the carriage of bicycles on public transport has not been undertaken – which is all the more reason to celebrate the study being revisited.
Let’s hope that the updated version proves to be just as influential as the original.
European Cycle Route Network, EuroVelo: Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Tourism is available to view on the EuroVelo website.
A summary is available from the European Parliament’s website.
Ed Lancaster, ECF Policy Officer forRegional Policy & Cycling Tourism -For the past 7 years, Ed has worked as a Town Planner for various local authorities in South East England and he has a Master’s degree in Town Planning from the University of Westminster. In his last role he was responsible for transport policies and strategy, as well as managing numerous cycling-related projects (e.g. providing new cycle infrastructure and running promotional activities).