This week the EuroVelo 5 – Via Romea (Francigena) cycle route was inaugurated in Brussels by Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt, Member of the European Parliament Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg and senior officials from the European Commission, Visit Brussels, Pro Velo and the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF).
Covering 3,200 km, EuroVelo 5 connects Canterbury in the United Kingdom to Brindisi in southern Italy via Brussels, where it is now fully signposted after signs were installed this month, an achievement with great symbolic value as the route takes cyclists through the heart of the EU institutions along the famous Brussels Rue de la Loi.
The bicycle is used by hundreds of millions of Europeans, whether for daily journeys, leisure trips or holidays, and we need to ensure that European legislation such as the TEN-T and the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation (AFIR) reflects this.”Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Member of the European Parliament
Representing a milestone towards greener mobility in Europe, one of the newly installed EuroVelo 5 signs was unveiled this week at the entrance to Parc du Cinquantenaire, a few hundred meters from the Berlaymont headquarters of the European Commission, where speakers and members of the press were invited for the unveiling.
“The EuroVelo network is a one-of-a-kind initiative bringing together the local, regional, national and European dimensions through cycling routes across the continent. From commuting to tourism, the EuroVelo network contributes to healthier and more sustainable mobility in Europe and symbolises an essential aspect of the European Green Deal,” explained Walter Goetz, head of cabinet for Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport.
Some participants kicked off the event at the Arts-Loi crossing by bicycle, including Van den Brandt, Visit Brussels Spokesperson Jeroen Roppe and cycling advocates from Pro Velo and ECF, from where they cycled the short stretch of the EuroVelo 5 route that goes past the EU institutions to Parc du Cinquantenaire. This section is on Rue de la Loi, a notoriously traffic-heavy and polluted street which in May 2020 saw one car lane being transformed into a separated cycle track by the authorities.
Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister for Mobility, said: “In cities like Brussels, cycling has enormous potential as one of the easiest, most sustainable and cost-efficient ways to get around town. Our guiding principle for cycling infrastructure since we started in 2019 has been “build it and they will come.” And they have: the number of cyclists is booming in Brussels. These international routes give our cyclists the opportunity to taste the freedom of cycling across borders, connecting them with fellow Europeans.”
Under a clear blue sky at the majestic Parc du Cinquantenaire, ECF President Henk Swarttouw introduced CEO Jill Warren, who spoke about the value of the EuroVelo network, which is managed and developed by the European Cyclists’ Federation.