A damning report by Público newspaper has pointed out the shortcomings of the Algarve’s main cycling route, the Ecovia do Litoral, at a time that the region says it is committed to promoting itself as a top-class destination for cyclists.
The story follows the announcement that the region has joined the ‘Atlantic on Bike’ project, which involves promoting the Algarve as one of the stops of the European cycling network Eurovelo 1 (click here).
But as Público points out, the 200km Ecovia do Litoral is still unfinished after over a decade and in some sections cyclists are forced onto the EN125 road.
“Under the current circumstances, there are serious risks of someone being run over,” the paper stresses.
While the EN125 between Vila do Bispo and Olhão is almost completely renovated, there are still little to no paths for bicycles.
José Manuel Caetano, president of the Portuguese federation of bicycle tourism and cyclists (FPCUV), says there are many “deficiencies” in the way the region’s mobility policies are handled, especially in terms of the Ecovia do Litoral.
Jorge Botelho, president of the Algarve municipalities association (AMAL), admits that there have been many delays but says there is a €2 million project underway to complete the route once and for all.
What remains to be seen is how the route will be managed.
Anabela Santos from the Almargem association, which manages the Via Algarviana walking trail, said that there were talks about leaving the management of the route in the hands of just one entity, but the private partners who are backing the project did not agree.
For now, the regional tourism board (RTA) and AMAL are the regional leaders of the ‘Atlantic on Bike’ project.
As the Resident reported last week, together they will manage a €350,000 budget for the next three years, with the goal being “to stimulate, structure, promote and monitor the cycling product in the Algarve; increase tourist demand by boosting the local economy and generating employment; and provide conditions for tourists and residents to enjoy cycling as a leisure activity”.
The EuroVelo network currently has 15 long-distance cycling routes linking the entire European continent, which can be used by holiday cyclists and residents on their daily commutes.
Many of these routes are completed, but others are still under development. It is estimated that the network will be complete by 2020.