Greenways at the Crossroads of Europe conference Greenways Product Project activities - 2nd Eurovelo, Greenways and Cycletourism - News from members from Latvia, Spain, Czech Republic, UK , Belgium - Greenways at EMW.

Greenways are a fantastic means to preserve railway heritage.

European Commision Tourism Director, Pedro Ortún,  addresses at the Crossroads of Europe Conference.

Greenways at the Crossroads of Europe conference and European Conference of Industrial Tourism 

The wider conference

In June this year, European Greenways Association (EGWA) Director, Mercedes Muńoz, presented Greenways and Railway Heritage at the 3rd Crossroads of Europe conference and 5th European Conference of Industrial Tourism held in Ferrol, Spain. She reminded participants that Europe possesses thousands of kilometres of disused railway lines which form part of the cultural and industrial heritage of the continent, and that many of them are at risk of irreversible deterioration.

She emphasized that greenways are an excellent way to preserve this heritage as they necessitate the restoration and maintenance of structures such as tunnels, viaducts and station buildings. Greenways also safeguard the continuity of transport corridors since the trails could easily revert to their original use as railway lines. Furthermore, she pointed out that converting old railway lines into greenways provides a perfect opportunity for the development of industrial tourism, ecotourism and sustainable travel, as well as sporting and leisure activities consistent with new social demands.

This is why EGWA advocates the transformation of disused railway lines into greenways as the most appropriate way to ensure that Europe’s railway heritage is preserved and maintained and, at the same time, generates local economic opportunities.

The 3rd Crossroads of Europe conference and 5th European Conference of Industrial Tourism attracted 400 participants from 23 countries.

The aim was to highlight the opportunities that can arise from the regeneration of abandoned industrial areas for tourism and new uses which protect and enhance the industrial heritage; a number of relevant international examples were shown. Not only should abandoned industrial sites be considered, since active local industries are also an attraction for tourists; guided tours combined, where possible, with product sales enrich the experience of visitors to a local area and improve business sales. All this helps to diversify the local economy.

A study by the EU Parliament about industrial heritage and rural tourism in Europe has estimated that 18 million overnight tourist trips are made plus 146 million day visits, generating a direct spend of almost €9 billion annually. Although these figures may seem high, they are, in fact, an under estimate since the study concludes that the total impact is likely to be larger when the indirect and induced impacts are taken into account. This illustrates the enormous potential for developing and extending industrial tourism.

Further info:   

A successful workshop on “Creating a tourism product in Latvia” 

Within the framework of the Greenways Product project, this workshop was organised by Vidzeme Tourism Association in cooperation with EGWA and the Spanish Railways Foundation (FFE).

Held in Riga earlier this year, the event was attended by some 30 participants, including officials from the Transport Ministry and local authorities, and opened by the President of the new Latvian Greenways Association (see news below).

There were a number of presentations, including EGWA’s session on greenways and tourism at the European level with international examples of best practice. The Spanish greenways programme was presented by the Spanish Railways Foundation (FFE) and the Portuguese experience was presented by the Portuguese Greenways Association (APCV) as examples of national networks, whilst the successful Via Verde de la Sierra was used as a reference for local insight. Practical methodology on how to create tourism packages around greenways was presented by SME (small and medium-size enterprise) partner, Pangea, and the economic impact of cycle tourism was addressed by Uclan University.

The workshop also presented the opportunity to learn more about Latvia through various presentations on abandoned railways and greenways in this Baltic country. The event included a visit to Ķeipene railway station that has been converted into a cinema museum, and a short bike ride to a former railway line near Riga, finishing at Kangari railway station; this beautiful, abandoned station can surely act as a important reference site to support the development and promotion of this old line as a greenway.

The EU-funded project, Greenways Product, has enabled the Vidzeme Tourism Association to become an active partner, learning from the experiences of some excellent greenways in Europe to become an enthusiastic promoter of greenways in Latvia; their efforts include the creation of the new Latvian Greenways Association. We congratulate Vidzeme Tourism Association for this fantastic work and encourage them to continue. 

Workshop programme and associated video

A field visit to a former railway line near Riga gave participants a real insight into the great potential it has to be developed as a greenway.

Intermodality (boat + bike) is one of the great attractions of the Po Delta as participants in the workshop found out.

Another great workshop on "Greenways: intermodality and slow tourism"

In June, a workshop was organized by Italian partners in the Greenways Product project, GALDeltaPo, in co-operation with the Federazione Italiana Amici della bicicleta (FIAB), in Rovigo, Italy.

The first conclusions of work carried out by the Regional Transport Consortium of Madrid were presented at the workshop, describing best practice for intermodality on public transport and greenways in Europe.

FIAB presented an interesting compendium of good practice based on specific experiences of intermodality (train + bike and bus + bike). Also from Italy, the founder of Girolibero, a tour operator offering package tours in Italy and beyond (including boat + bike combinations), related how the company has been a great success; from small beginnings in 1998 and with only two staff by 2002, it now has around 17,000 customers per year and an annual turnover of €11 million.

EGWA Director, Mercedes Muńoz, presented examples of excellent greenways in Europe and encouraged local authorities and entrepreneurs to exploit the huge potential that the Adige-Po Delta offers for cycle tourism and to create specific tour packages around these accessible routes.

Presentations and further details  

Norway hosts a “mobile” Greenways Product conference 

At the end of June, Rogaland County Council in Norway organised a "mobile" Greenways Conference, once again within the framework of the Greenways Product project. Along with EGWA, the council is one of 14 partners in this European-funded initiative.

The aim of this three-day traveling workshop was to share experiences and show participants EuroVelo 12 – The North Sea Cycle Route - in this region.  A number of events were organised involving project partners and other local representatives and public and private sector stakeholders involved in cycle tourism.

Each day there were technical sessions in different municipalities of the county of Rogaland, followed by bike rides and visits to different points of interest along the route (cycling infrastructure, associated companies etc…).

The theme of the sessions was the development of long distance cycle routes and greenways. Participants learnt about the popular "Cyclists Welcome" scheme launched by Cycling Norway, especially along the North Sea Cycle Route, and the benefits to some accommodation providers involved in the programme.

One workshop was held jointly with participants from another EU-funded project, Vital Rural Area, specifically aimed at promoting rural development and improving the quality of life of local inhabitants, which is a shared objective with the Greenways Product initiative. During this session EGWA presented an overview of greenways in Europe emphasizing the appeal they represent for tourism and for improving the quality of life of local inhabitants, which was very well received by attendees; for many it was their first introduction to the greenways concept and its development in Europe.

The experience of this “immersion” or “mobile” conference was a really positive one as it gave participants a real insight into current cycle tourism facilities in this beautiful part of Norway, and a general overview of the country too. Attendees were able to enjoy some stunning views and landscapes during the field trips, even sections with tremendous hills only suitable for the most experienced cyclist! The conference was a complex one to arrange but an enormous success thanks to the hard work of the Rogaland team. Huge thanks to them for making it possible!

The presentations will be available soon on the EGWA website under the Greenways Product project

At the same time, the last coordination meeting of the Greenways Product project took place, with some interesting initiatives planned for September. This EU funded project  is coordinated by Spanish Railway Foundation (FFE).

Conference programme   

A combination of technical sessions and field visits gave delegates a great insight into the development of cycle tourism in Rogaland.

EuroVelo, Greenways and Cycling Tourism Conference 2014

This year’s joint European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF)/EGWA conference on EuroVelo, Greenways and Cycling Tourism will be taking place in Basel, Switzerland, on Friday 19 September, as part of the closing conference of the Demarrage – EuroVelo 15 – Rhine Route Project.

The day will include sessions explaining how cycling tourism fits into the current political and economic agenda, examples of good practices and ideas for new products for cycle tourists, as well as a presentation on the transferrable outputs from the Demarrage project itself.

The Demarrage Project – a four-year investment in cross-border cycle tourism centred on the River Rhine - has been co-financed by Northwest Europe INTERREG IV B. No doubt the outcomes and lessons learnt from the project will be an invaluable reference for other projects related to EuroVelo and greenways awaiting financial support from the EU in the next round of applications.

Located at the meeting point of Switzerland, France and Germany, Basel is the perfect spot to mark the end of this ambitious cross border project. It promises to be an informative event so don’t miss it!

(NB The conference will be conducted in English, French and German).

Further details   

EGWA to attend 18th DRC conference in Lille

EGWA will have a stand at the 18th annual conference of the French Departments and Regions’ Cycling Association (DRC) taking place in Lille on 25 September, 2014. 

Thanks to a kind invitation from the association, EGWA will be able to publicize recent initiatives and particularly promote the EU-funded Greenways Product project. Furthermore it will be an opportunity to learn about the rapidly changing landscape relating to the Bike as this is the central theme of the DRC congress this year. The programme also includes a 25 km cycle ride to the Louvre-Lens on Friday 26 September.

Since 1996, the annual meetings of the DRC have been a forum to exchange ideas about cycling best practice and policy to support its development in the regions -  especially interesting for greenways.

Further details

Latvia embraces the greenways concept

We are delighted to announce that the Latvian Greenways Association was founded in May with the participation of EGWA members.

The new association is composed of 11 founding members – local municipalities that have abandoned railway lines traversing their regions - and it is expected that more will join. The organization is run by Mr Jānis Bordāns, the former Minister of Justice, and Mr Raitis Sijāts is Managing Director of the association as well as Chairman of the Board of Vidzeme Tourism Association.

Greenways in Northern Latvia had already been included on cycling maps and in brochures last year, but in 2014 the very first combined Latvian EuroVelo and greenways map will be published as a part of the international Greenways Product project.

A fantastic short video has also been produced, promoting the greenways of Latvia. 

The Greenways Product team with members of the new Latvian Greenways Association at the Kangari abandoned  railway station.

"Chuck" Flink presented some interesting examples of greenway best practice in the US.

US greenway expert visits Prague

Charles Flink, an expert on US greenways, visited the Czech Republic in June, supported by the US embassy in Prague. During his visit, an international workshop entitled "Greenways and Urban Revitalization“ was organized for 25 experts.

As the main speaker, “Chuck“ Flink presented great examples of city revitalization brought about by greenways in New York, Philadelphia and Miami, and Swift Creek Recycled Greenway in North Carolina, which was the first to be built entirely from recycled materials!

Other presenters included Dominika Zareba from Krakow who showed how the city is using the greenway concept to revitalize Vistula riverfront as well as an industrial area near the steel mills of Nowa Huta. The host, Daniel Mourek, Vice-President of ECF and member of the EGWA Executive Committeem presented two examples of best practice in Prague – the Vítkov rail-trail in the city centre and the Rokytka greenway. 

During his visit, Chuck also visited greenways in Prague as well as two long distance - cycle routes, the Elbe trail (EuroVelo 4, 7) and Vltava trail (EuroVelo 7) which has helped to revitalize a former brownfield site.

Promoting greenways during European Mobility Week 

During European Mobility Week (16-22 September 2014), EGWA would like to encourage greenway managers and user associations to organize all sorts of events around these traffic-free routes on the 13th European Greenways Day. The aim is to help raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable mobility for the environment as well as to help promote European greenways generally.

In addition, this year, we want to promote greenways as a tourism product of sustainable mobility, and intermodality with public transport as the best way to access these routes. Intermodality (especially train + bike) benefits people for their everyday travel and also promotes cycle tourism. "Slow tourism” requires good integration with public transport for its development and, therefore, intermodality is one element being promoted by the Greenways Product project.

Of course it is better to access greenways by public transport, but please still participate in European Greenways Day even if your promotional event doesn’t prioritise intermodality! Tell us what great activities you’ve got planned and we’ll spread the word to inspire other members to make European Greenways Day a huge success.

This promotion is part of the activities included in the Greenways Product project

Further info 

Intermodality with public transport is the best way to access greenways.

Representatives from Andalusia's Ministry of Public Works and Housing (centre), the FFE (right) and the University of Seville (left) at the conference opening.

First conference held on  “The greenways of Andalusia: the impact of cycle tourism and greenways" 

In June, Andalusía’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing, together with the FFE and the University of Seville, organized this information day in Seville. The event was part of the R & D + I project to facilitate the “The establishment of a platform for territorial information and technological support to the greenways in Andalusia. Citizen access to the knowledge society", co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

The conference brought together more than 100 representatives from local and regional government, managers and entrepreneurs. EGWA Director, Mercedes Muñoz, presented an overview of greenways in Europe, and Andalusia’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing presented the ambitious Andalusian Bicycle Plan (2014-2020), a firm commitment by the regional government to create cycling infrastructure and promote cycling. The FFE presented a report on the impact of cycling in Europe, compiled ​​from existing studies (available in Spanish), while the company Pangea gave advice on how to promote bicycle tourism in Spain.

Conference presentations

Plazaola greenway map now availaible in English and French 

With increasing numbers of European visitors from the Netherlands, France, UK and Ireland enjoying the Plazaola greenway, a new edition of the trail map has been published in English and French. The map includes details of the cycle route and its services, plus attractions and activities in the area, and is the result of collaboration between the local authorities that manage the sections in Gipuzkoa and Navarra.

With the recent completion of the 4 km Mugiro section, 55 km are now available for walking and cycling between Imotz and Andoain.

Download the map

2013 saw a big increase in walking and cycling journeys on the National Cycle Network.      
© J Bewley/Sustrans.


Sustrans’ National Cycle Network sees an extra 50 million journeys in 2013

A recent report by Sustrans, ‘Millions of people on the move’, reveals that an extra 50 million journeys were made on the National Cycle Network in 2013, a 7% increase on 2012.

Walkers and cyclists made 748 million journeys on the Network in 2013, delivering an overall benefit of £1 billion to the UK economy, including:
  • £803 million in health benefits derived from physical activity
  • Potential petrol savings for individuals valued at almost £215 million
  • £25 million worth of potential carbon savings as a result of journeys made solely on foot and bike.
Over a third of users of the National Cycle Network could have driven but chose not to, helping to ease congestion by saving 157 million car journeys.

Traffic-free walking and cycling routes often generate ten times more than they cost in less than 10 years – a much higher return on investment than other forms of transport.

That is why Sustrans is calling on governments to recognise the economic benefits of cycling and walking and dedicate £10 per head per year to help turn the tide on rising levels of physical inactivity.

Malcolm Shepherd, Sustrans Chief Executive, said: “Official data shows levels of cycling and walking to be in long term decline, but year on year we are seeing increases in the number of people taking to the National Cycle Network both by bike and on foot. This rise in usage shows that there is a demand for safe, convenient and welcoming walking and cycling routes but too many people still feel threatened by traffic danger on the roads. Governments must match this demand with dedicated funding to walking and cycling and by reducing traffic speeds on our roads to create the kind of environment which encourages people to leave the car at home. Walking and cycling has the potential to be a silver bullet for the UK’s health as well as delivering billions of pounds in economic benefits but we urgently need safer roads to make this happen.”

Sustrans campaigns

Greenways and EuroVelo in Wallonia 

As you probably know, the Walloon region in Belgium has an important greenways network, the RAVeL, on disused railway corridors as well as on towpaths along canals and rivers.  This signed network is an excellent tool for promoting long distance cycle routes, so the Meuse cycle route has been signposted along its whole length in Wallonia, from the French border near Givet to the Dutch border near Maastricht. A small board with the “Meuse à vélo” logo has been added.

The cycle route along the River Sambre will be signposted before the 2015 summer season from the French border near Maubeuge to Namur (at the confluence with the River Meuse); the EuroVelo 3 logo will be added to panels at the most important crossings. At the same time, the EuroVelo 3 logo will also be added to panels along the River Meuse from Namur to Liège, making EuroVelo 3 a reality in Wallonia in less than a year’s time. 

In Wallonia, EuroVelo 3 follows the RAVeL and the regional long distance cycle route No 6.

The main objectives of the Association Européenne des Voies Vertes - European Greenways Association - Asociación Europea de Vías Verdes , founded in 1998, are to make an inventory of, promote and encourage infrastructures referred to as greenways
Copyright © 2014 Association Européenne des Voies Vertes - European Greenways Association - Asociación Europea de Vías Verdes 
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