— Mild warning to local and international cyclists hidden on new website.
A rush to market EuroVelo 1 in Ireland, part of a long-distance international cycling route, to tourists means it includes people cycling on sections of busy national and regional roads in different counties along the route.
There are two EuroVelo routes in Ireland — EV1, the Atlantic Coast Route, a 11,150km long that is being developed through Norway, UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal; and the EV2, the Capitals Route, which is basically the Dublin to Galway Greenway, which is open from Maynooth to Athlone.
EuroVelo 1 in Ireland includes using quiet roads and sections of greenways, including the Waterford Greenway, the Limerick Greenway, and the Great Western Greenway in Co Mayo. It also includes smaller greenways such as short open sections of the Connemara Greenway and the two yet-to-be-connected sections of the Ballina to Killala Greenway.
But what’s not highlighted is that the Europen Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) which oversees the EuroVelo network classes all of the EV1 route in the Republic of Ireland as “developed” with signs only.
Confusingly, the status of “Developed with EuroVelo signs” is the same status in Ireland where cyclists share space with motorists on sections of busy roads and in the Netherlands where cyclists are for most of the road kilometres away from cars and trucks along the sand dunes on the Dutch coastline.
On some roads, the Wild Atlantic Way — mainly a driving-focused tourism offering — has directed motorists onto what were relatively quiet routes. There are now significant sections of the Wild Atlantic Way that conflict with the quiet road approach of EuroVelo.
The disclaimer buried in the further information section of the new website says: “For the most part the roads used on the route have low traffic volumes and speed. There are ideal for people who are used to cycling and cycle touring. There are however some sections of the road on road which can be busier and can have higher traffic volumes at certain times. In some cases there may be a wide hard shoulder which can be used to cycle in, in some cases there may not.”
“These sections are used when the is no alternative route that can be used and to ensure the route is continuous. They are usually on a National road for a relatively short distance before re-joining a quiet road. It is the intention that in the future additional cycling infrastructure will be developed to improve the cycling experience on these roads,” it states.
It continues: “At present all these sections can be cycled and are cycled regularly, but riders need to be aware that they exist and know to expect them. When cycling these sections, the use of your lights can help to make you more visible to other road users.”
The disclaimer adds: “On the page for each daily details of any busy sections are provided.”
But the pages for sections of the route do not all seem to include notices of the busy sections involved.
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Last year, the ECF said: “The EuroVelo network has a total length of 93,021 km and currently comprises 17 routes, crossing 38 countries. Contrary to what some users may believe, the EuroVelo network is still a work in progress; all EuroVelo routes are not well developed yet, and some sections are even still under development or at the planning stage. What really ensures the good quality of a EuroVelo route and its level of safety is the Certification label, which is attributed to a route after an on-site survey, if it meets the quality criteria. So far only EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Cycle Route has undergone this process successfully.
At the launch of EV1 today, Minister of State Jack Chambers said: “The Atlantic Coast Route travels through some of our most iconic landscapes passing through Counties Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal. This EuroVelo 1 Cycling Route showcases the very best of our coastline and represents a valuable tourism product in attracting both overseas visitors as well as in encouraging domestic visitors to explore our Atlantic Coast.”
In the press release for the launch, the Department of Transport saidt hat it “has invested approximately €800,000 in the EuroVelo 1 Cycle Route. The route has been inspected to ensure high quality directional signage. While some of the 40 sections of the route are on off-road ‘Greenway’ infrastructure, the Department of Transport recognises the value in supporting and promoting a cycling route that primarily relies on our existing quiet, low traffic volume road infrastructure.”