On March 11, 2021, the "Danube Delta" National Institute for Research and Development (DDNI) organized an online debate focused on identifying a framework for the development of green infrastructure for cycling tourism and other types of non-motorized activities in Tulcea County, as part of the activity of raising awareness within the WP 5 of the project "Fostering enhanced ecotourism planning along the Eurovelo cycle route network in the Danube region” ECOVELOTOUR.

The participants were as follows:

1.Ms. Anca CRĂCIUN – "Danube Delta" National Institute for Research and Development, Tulcea

2.Mr. Andrei BLUMER- Association of Ecotourism of Romania

3.Mr. Ștefan ILIE – Mayor of Tulcea City

4.Mr. Teodor FROLU – “Ivan Patzaichin - Mila 23” Association

5.Mr. Cătălin ȚIBULEAC – Danube Delta Tourist Destination Management Association

6.Mr. Sorin ZAHARCU – Teche Construct Solutions SRL Bucharest

7.Mr. Ion BONCEA - Explorer Association Tulcea

8.Mr. Dan BONDAREV - Discover Eurovelo

9.Ms. Carmen CONONOV – South-Eastern Regional Development Agency - Tulcea

10.Ms. Gabriela MOROZOV - Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, Tulcea

11.Ms. Diana BOTA - "Danube Delta" National Institute for Research and Development, Tulcea

12.Mr. Dragoș BALAICAN - "Danube Delta" National Institute for Research and Development, Tulcea

Ms. Anca Crăciun project manager at the DDNI presented the role of the event, namely the debate on the action plan identified in the development strategy of cycling tourism in Tulcea County, a strategy developed by AER within the Ecovelotour project. Ms. Anca Crăciun, presented the objectives and activities of the project and highlighted the purpose and importance of stakeholder participation in the development of cycling tourism in Tulcea County.

Mr. Blumer briefly presented, in few slides, the main objectives and results of the strategy developed by AER, highlighting that Tulcea County and Dobrogea can become one of the most attractive tourist areas in Romania, in terms of ecotourism and cycling tourism. Mr. Blumer insisted that the cycling strategy / concept is alive and can be adjusted / adapted with the help of stakeholders, thus inviting the participants in the meeting / debate to speak.

Mr. Ștefan ILIE, the mayor of Tulcea City, mentioned that Tulcea County can be dedicated to cycle tourism  and, in his opinion, other routes can be included than those proposed in the “Cycling tourism development strategy in Tulcea county”. Regarding the municipality of Tulcea, unfortunately, the city does not have the necessary infrastructure for cycling, but there are hopes that by implementing the Urban Mobility Plan, bicycle lanes will be built with the rehabilitation of roads. In this regard, Mr. Mayor announced the initiative taken in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment, to call every Friday a Green Friday, ie. all public administration employees to set an example of not using the personal car on their way to work but public transport, bicycles or walking.

Mr. Cătălin ȚIBULEAC, the president of the Danube Delta Tourist Destination Management Association reminded that, at least, the continental part of Tulcea County does not have many accommodations for potential cyclists and, where these places exist, they are only available starting in May, due to the high administration costs during the cold season. The Măcin Mountains area is the most developed from this point of view, and, with the help of NRRP funds, the other areas can be developed as well.

Mr. Sorin Zaharcu presented the Mobility Plan proposed by Teche Construct Solutions company from Tulcea, which envisages the rehabilitation of county and communal roads in Tulcea county with the component of bicycle tracks. Mr. Zaharcu reminded that for the other routes, which are not in the public domain, the owners of these lands must be taken into account and especially that these lands must be cadastred and without charges.

Mrs. Carmen CONONOV intervened, stating that in such projects the emphasis is on the eligibility of the owners and that all necessary documents are checked before funding. ADRSE is open to such investment projects and in the period 2021-2027 will focus on Operational Programs.

Mr. Teodor FROLU, representing the “Ivan Patzaichin - Mila 23” Association highlighted the fact that the strategy includes two types of cycling routes: routes with a tourist role and routes with a transport role that involve two different types of infrastructure: tourist infrastructure and connection infrastructure. He also said that some dams have become private or that some areas cannot be crossed because they are fenced agricultural areas. Mr. Frolu recommended greater involvement of the DDBRA to conduct impact studies before funding such projects and sizing the need for mobility.

Mr. Ion BONCEA from the Explorer Association reminded that the proposed routes must take into account the standards of Eurovelor 6 route and that it must be clearly specified who will administer these routes: the MDOs or the Cyclists' Associations? The biggest problems are the marking and especially the maintenance of these routes, even if the investment is minimal. In order to receive funding for maintenance, these routes must be approved at national and Eurovelo level, but this cannot be done without dedicated legislation.

Mr. Dan BONDAREV, a passionate cyclist who has covered the entire Eurovelo 6 route, believes that Tulcea can become a pilot area for Romania in terms of cycling and that the first step can be done by building 10 km of bike paths on the dam that connects Tulcea to the commune Nufăru to see the impact on Tulcea residents and tourists. In general, proposals for cycle paths should focus in particular on the use of existing dams, as they have no traffic, an example being the Eurovelo 6 route built mostly on dams, along rivers and the Danube.

At the end of the debate, Mr. Andrei BLUMER proposed a model for further future discussions on working groups and focused on the 5 areas identified in the Cycling Tourism Development Strategy and attracting the most important stakeholders in each area. At the end, a calendar of meetings was proposed, which will be moderated by DDNI through the person of Anca Crăciun and by AER through Andrei Blumer.

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)