Relive the event with the video summary!
On Wednesday 23 March, 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 Rue de la Loi (Wetstraat).
Representing a milestone towards greener mobility in Europe, one of the newly installed EuroVelo 5 signs was unveiled at the entrance to Parc du Cinquantenaire (Jubelpark) today, a few hundred meters from the Berlaymont headquarters of the European Commission, where speakers and members of the press were invited for the unveiling.
Some participants kicked off the event at the Arts-Loi (Kunst-Wet) 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.
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.
The speeches followed with Walter Goetz, Head of Cabinet for Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, with references to the benefits of the European cycle route network: ‘ the EuroVelo network contributes to healthier and more sustainable mobility in Europe and symbolises an essential aspect of the European Green Deal’.
Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Minister for Mobility followed Mr Goetz and commented on how ‘these international routes give our cyclists the opportunity to taste the freedom of cycling across borders, connecting them with fellow Europeans’ Jeroen Roppe, Spokesperson of visit.brussels, stressed that “Brussels is situated in the heart of Europe and represents a crossroads of cultures. We are quite literally making the connection between north and south, east and west, and the bicycle is the transport mode par excellence to really explore Europe.”
Anna Deparnay-Grunenberg, Member of the European Parliament spoke about how the ”network demonstrates the important role that cycling can play in Europe’s transportation system, with EuroVelo 5 seamlessly connecting communities in seven different countries, both inside and outside of the EU. 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.”
The speeches were rounded off with some words from Jeroen Roppe, spokesperson of visit.brussels who said ”We have already established a tradition of promoting bicycle tourism in our region thanks to the development of new cycle routes and bicycle infrastructure in Brussels. This enables us to promote cycling tourism in the region. We also created at visit.brussels a bike friendly label: There are 33 touristic hotels and hostels that guarantee visitors a complete bicycle experience during their stay in Brussels. Just to assure you that we are prepared, ready, and happy to welcome visitors in Brussels that use EuroVelo routes.”
EuroVelo 5’s section in Brussels was inaugurated with the unveiling of one of the signs by all the speakers.