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Long piece of land, where vegetation and slow travel are encouraged
A greenway is usually a shared-use path along a strip of undeveloped land, in an urban or rural area, set aside for recreational use or environmental protection. Greenways are frequently created out of disused railways, canal towpaths, utility or similar rights of way, or derelict industrial land. Greenways also can also be linear parks, and can serve as wildlife corridors. The path's surface may be paved and often serves multiple users: walkers, runners, bicyclists, skaters and hikers. A characteristic of greenways, as defined by the European Greenways Association, is "ease of passage": that is that they have "either low or zero gradient", so that they can be used by all "types of users, including mobility impaired people".
Greenways are vegetated, linear, and multi-purpose. They incorporate a footpath and/or bikeway within a linear park. In urban design, they are a component of planning for bicycle commuting and walkability. The British organization Sustrans, who are involved in creating cycleways and greenways, states that a traffic free route "must be designed on the assumption that everyone will use it", and measures taken "to assist visually and mobility impaired users".
The American author Charles Little in his 1990 book, Greenways for America, defines a greenway as:
A linear open space established along either a natural corridor, such as a riverfront, stream valley or ridgeline, or overland along a railroad right-of-way converted to recreational use, a canal, scenic road or other route. It is a natural or landscaped course for pedestrian or bicycle passage; an open-space connector linking parks, nature reserves, cultural features, or historic sites with each other and with populated areas; locally certain strip or linear parks designated as parkway or greenbelt.
The term greenway comes from the green in green belt and the way in parkway, implying a recreational or pedestrian use rather than a typical street corridor, as well as an emphasis on introducing or maintaining vegetation, in a location where such vegetation is otherwise lacking. Some greenways include community gardens as well as typical park-style landscaping of trees and shrubs. They also tend to have a mostly contiguous pathway. Greenways resemble linear parks, but the latter are only found in urban and suburban environments.
Communication routes reserved exclusively for non-motorized journeys, developed in an integrated manner which enhances both the environment and quality of life of the surrounding area. These routes should meet satisfactory standards of width, gradient and surface condition to ensure that they are both user-friendly and low-risk for users of all abilities. (Lille Declaration, European Greenways Association, 12 September 2000).
Though wildlife corridors are also greenways, because they have conservation as their primary purpose, they are not necessarily managed as parks for recreational use, and may not include facilities such as public trails.
Signposted greenway, bordering on an urban canal in Nordhorn, Germany
Charles Little in his 1990 book, Greenways for America", describes five general types of greenways:
Urban riverside (or other water body) greenways, usually created as part of (or instead of) a redevelopment program along neglected, often run-down, city waterfronts.
Recreational greenways, featuring paths and trails of various kinds, often relatively long distance, based on natural corridors as well as canals, abandoned rail beds, and public rights-of-way.
Ecologically significant natural corridors, usually along rivers and streams and less often ridgelines, to provide for wildlife migration and species interchange, nature study and hiking.
Scenic and Historic routes, usually along a road, highway or waterway, the most representative of them making an effort to provide pedestrian access along the route or at least places to alight from the car.
Comprehensive greenway systems or networks, usually based on natural landforms such as valleys or ridges but sometimes simply an opportunistic assemblage of greenways and open spaces of various kinds to create an alternative municipal or regional green infrastructure.
Greenways are found in rural areas as well as urban. Corridors redeveloped as greenways often travel through both city and country, connecting them together. Even in rural areas, greenways provide residents access to open land managed as parks, as contrasted with land that is vegetated but inappropriate for public use, such as agricultural land. Where the historic rural road network has been enlarged and redesigned to favor high-speed automobile travel, greenways provide an alternative for people who are elderly, young, less mobile or seeking a reflective pace.
"NO MOTOR VEHICLES E-BIKES E-SCOOTERS" Sign posted on the Hudson River Greenway in New York City
Tom Turner analyzed greenways in London looking for common patterns among successful examples. He was inspired by the pattern language technique of architect Christopher Alexander. A pattern language is an organized and coherent set of "patterns", each of which describes a problem and the core of a solution that can be used in many ways within a specific field of expertise. Turner concluded there are seven types, or 'patterns', of greenway which he named:
Foreshoreways are usually concerned with the idea of sustainable transport. A foreshoreway is accessible to both pedestrians and cyclists and gives them the opportunity to move unimpeded along the seashore. Dead end paths that offer public access only to the ocean are not part of a foreshoreway.
A foreshoreway corridor often includes a number of traffic routes that provide access along an oceanfront, including:
Public rights of way frequently exist on the foreshore of beaches throughout the world. In legal discussions the foreshore is often referred to as the wet-sand area (see Right of way for a fuller discussion).
^There is no dictionary definition for the term in the full Oxford Dictionary of English. Linear: Resembling a line; very narrow in proportion to its length, and of uniform breadth. Oxford Dictionary of English. The term linear park seems to be first used on a regular basis in the 1960s and 1970s (Google Ngram Viewer). The earliest usage in Britain is, in reference to the idea of a River Thames "linear national park", in Time on the Thames by Eric Samuel De Maré (Architectural Press, 1952) (Ngram). Google Ngram Viewer, however, indicates a few earlier examples, including the US in 1939 (Supplementary report of the Urbanism Committee to the National Resources Committee, Volume 2. United States. National Resources Committee. Research Committee on Urbanism, Clarence Addison Dykstra. U.S. Govt. 1939.) It may also have been used in 1873, but Ngram didn't provide the source(s).