In these difficult financial times, the EU, national governments and local administrations must give priority to investing in greenways not only for the benefit of their citizens but also for budgetary reasons. A firm commitment to developing the greenway network would improve the profitability of government in terms of development and health.
Some examples show the important contribution that greenways make to regional development. The Cluny to Givry Greenway in France, a former disused railway and winner of the first European Greenways Award (EGA) in 2003, was the precursor to the development of Burgundy by bike, today a cycle network of more than 700 km that is a reference point for French and, indeed, international tourism, attracting 1 million users in 2010(1) and creating an economic effect that has recouped the investment in 1 year.
In the UK, the Bristol and Bath Path, which is 27 km long and was built between 1979 and 1986, is the most popular greenway with 2,800,000 trips on foot or by bike in 2010(2). This former railway was the first section of Sustrans National Cycle Network which currently runs to over 20,000 km of cycle route, one third of which is traffic-free.
The greenways network in Gerona, Spain, also winner of the EGA, recorded 1,800,000 trips in 2010 (3) and constitutes a resource for economic development in the inland part of Girona province. It is not only important for tourism but also for the local population which uses it for commuting, exercise and health.
It is important to recognise all the health benefits of greenways through daily exercise, but we shouldn’t neglect their positive impact on the economy, an aspect which is often forgotten. In France, it is estimated that a 15% increase in daily cycling would produce a €10 billion saving for the health budget(4). What figure would it be for the whole of Europe? How much if we counted all users such as pedestrians, wheelchair users, the young, the old, families? All of these groups are potential beneficiaries of the greenways.
The conclusion is that investing in greenways is really worth it!
EGWA will continue to play its role in developing greenways across Europe for all to enjoy and we hope we can count on your support to achieve our vision.
1-Les retombées économiques du Tourisme à vélo. Exemple du Tour de Bourgogne à Vélo – in Nicolas Mercat-Jean Philippe Perrusson. 5th European Greenways Conference, Madrid, 2010.
4- Study made by Altermodal, quoted at 15th meeting of the DRC www.departements-regions-cyclables.org
Gilbert Perrin , Carmen Aycart , Mercedes Muñoz
President, Secretary General, Director