The ‘ECO-CICLE’ project aims to improve natural and cultural heritage policies by creating a European network for the promotion of cycle tourism in natural areas. Funded by the Interreg Europe Programme, this project has been running since June 2018 and will continue until June 2022.

The specific objective of the project is to improve the implementation of regional development policies and programs within the field of conservation and development of natural and cultural heritage. Achieving this goal will enable achieving other objectives such as:

  • Making the bicycle the official sustainable transport to access natural heritage.
  • Encourage sustainable mobility beyond the strictly urban environment.
  • Foster endogenous economical revival.
  • Reach the EU2020 targets.

Cycling tourism has clearly benefitted from the recent urban mobility developments based around the bicycle. New populations of cyclists are clamouring for new experiences made possible by new models of sustainable tourism. However, this is also an opportunity for impactful territorial management and land use planning since cycling tourism can create services and employment in remote areas. In this sense, natural heritage could benefit deeply from cycling tourism.

Many regions in Europe are characterized by extensive natural heritage in which economic and urban growth is subordinated to a strict evaluation regarding the preservation of biodiversity and at risk ecosystems. We are reminded that the EU2020 strategy fostering sustainable environmental development and an efficient use of resources is mandatory for establishing a green and competitive economy. Therefore, ECO¬CICLE aims to ensure that the bicycle becomes the official sustainable transport to access natural heritage while fostering endogenous economic revival through this popular mode of tourism. In order to determine the best conditions, in which to develop cycling ¬tourism in natural heritage context, ECO¬CICLE builds on the experience of the partnership, especially on that of our advisory partner the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).

ECF is one of the 7 partners from 6 different countries which are: The County Council of Huelva (Lead partner) and Regional Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning in Spain, Kujawsko-Pomorskie Voivodeship, Poland. In Germany; Aufbauwerk Region Leipzig GmbH, Slovenia: RDA of Northern Primorska Ltd Nova Gorica, Italy: Basilicata Region.

Main objective of ECO¬CICLE is to improve operational programs and regional development policies to allocate Structural Funds and other investments funds (around €9 million is targeted through 24 new projects) in infrastructure and support to cycling tourism service providers.

ECO-CICLE at the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2021, Barcelona

Within the parallel session Healthy and sustainable experiences in cycling tourism, moderated by Florence Grégoire from ECF, the results of the project were presented by Alain Labatut from ECO-CICLE. Alain also introduced the Road Map and Action plan of the project, the activities developed so far and some accounted results.

Three partners from the ECOC-CICLE project presented different pilot experiences and best practices developed within the ECO-CICLE framework in this session:

  • The development of depopulated areas through cycling tourism: The ECO-CICLE Action Plan for Andalusia, presented by Javier Navarrete Mazariegos - Junta de Andalucía (Spain)
  • Cycle network extension as a trigger for a cycle development, presented by Marcin Drogorób from the Sport and Tourism Department from Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region (Poland)
  • Cycling tourism for all age groups, presented by Tina Samec Novac from the Brda Tourist Agency - RDA of Northern Primorska Ltd Nova Gorica (Slovenia).

The partners also had the opportunity of joining a study visit at Collserolla natural park in Barcelona. One of the most visited natural areas of the city where coexistence between a growing number of hikers and cyclists sometimes can be challenging, one of the topics covered by the project is on how to guarantee sustainability when cycling in natural areas.

The session was completed with 3 other presentations on cycling in natural destinations, and social inclusion experiences, with speakers sharing stories about:

  • Sustainable territorial development – BICIMUGI, presented by Micaela García-Etxeberria from NASUVINSA.
  • Terres de l'Ebre Biosphere Reserve, a new cycling destination for everybody, presented by Albert Folch Giró from Diputació de Tarragona.
  • How to make a modern and successful cycling tourism destination available to all (trail – full cycling experience in Croatia), presented by Karlo Kučan from SPOT ltd.

The full session is now available to watch online, you can also access the presentation documents and other content of the EuroVelo & Cycling Tourism Conference 2021, Barcelona. You can watch it here.