We move now to the region of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany, where Regionalverband Ruhr is in charge of the development of the Ruhr Valley Cycle Path (RVCP) – RuhrtalRadweg. This cycle path follows the Ruhr River and combines industrial, natural and cultural heritage along it. The RVCP was officially opened in 2006 and is one of the primary German riverside cycle paths.

This 230-kilometre route is characterized by a relevant natural and historical heritage: forests, heathland, mountains, many traces of the industrial era, which are symbolic of the development and history of the region. Along the way, there are interesting sites: the medieval town centre in Arnsberg, the Mutten Valley, industrial heritage sites and the redeveloped Duisburg Inner Harbour. The cycle path has uniform signs with place and kilometre information. In the former industrial landscape of the Ruhr region, an attractive network of cycle paths and the ecological redevelopment of large forest areas have led to a significant territorial image improvement.

The project includes a working group for infrastructure (covering routing, certificates, construction, signposting etc.), led by Regionalverband Ruhr, and a working group for marketing (covering concepts, basic decisions, applied marketing etc.), led by Ruhr Tourismus GmbH. The main challenge encountered has been to involve stakeholders with different public and private interests, (regional authorities, tourism associations, hospitality businesses, recreational institutions), by creating cooperation and geographical networking-based working groups.

This good practice belongs to the ‘planning & management’ category as it concerns the successful planning and management of a cycle route, taking into account the unique cultural heritage of the region. There is increasing evidence showing the success of this cycle path. For instance, the RVCP has been certified as a “4-star quality cycling route” by the German Cyclists’ Association (ADFC) since 2010, and there has been up to a 40% increase in turnover for businesses along the route between 2006 (opening of the route) and 2011.

Find out more at ruhrtalradweg.de.

More information on this Good Practice can be found on this page.