Last Tuesday 27th September, a study visit by bike took place on the greenway (RAVEL), from Liège to Aachen on lines 38/39 (Herve - Aubel section), awarded with the first European prize in the 10th EGA Excellence.
The objective was to share with the partners and stakeholders of the OurWay project Best Practices on the ground in the realisation of greenways, services and facilities linked to non-motorised, cycling and walking infrastructure, and to enable them to replicate them in a form adapted to their territories.
The greenway combines excellent infrastructure and services, which favour daily mobility, tourism and leisure in a highly attractive rural environment.
Thirty-five representatives from 8 countries (Spain, Belgium, Ireland, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, France, and Italy) will be welcomed by the director of the Pays D'Herve Tourist Office, Anne Zinnen.
Herve's own tourist office is located in a former railway station, which is also a canteen bar and sells local products, including the renowned Herve cheese, with a designation of origin. It also offers a bike rental service, a bike repair station and an e-bike charging station, much appreciated by road users, making Herve a must-see!
The agenda also included a visit to the award-winning Racour station, recognised with a special European Greenways Award - European Year of Railways 2021.
Racour Station is a beautiful former railway station that has been converted into tourist accommodation by private initiative. In addition, former railway carriages have been transformed to welcome guests. Participants will be able to hear first-hand from the owners about the transformation and the challenges they have overcome to realise their dream. It is a particularly attractive accommodation for cyclists, as it is located at the foot of RAVEL, and also has bicycles available for its guests.
The visit was part of the final conference of the OurWay project "Greenways, a must to sustainable tourism' which took place the following day in Brussels at the Committee of the Regions, and was organised by EGWA in close collaboration with members of the Association. The tourism office of Pays Herve, the Chemins du Rail Association and the Wallonia region, with the support of the Region of Murcia as lead partner of the Interreg Europe project.
Greenways are "autonomous communication routes reserved for non-motorised travel, developed within a framework of integrated development that values the environment and quality of life, meeting sufficient conditions of width, gradient and surface quality to ensure a coexistent and safe use for all users of all physical abilities. In this sense, the use of canal service roads and disused railway tracks is a privileged support for the development of Greenways". (Lille Declaration, 12 September 2000). Greenways are known by different names depending on the country: Voies Vertes, Vias Vertes, RAVEL, Ecopistas, Radwege auf alten Bahntrassen, railtrails,
Greenways are a source of wealth for the territories through which they run and allow you to discover the cultural and natural attractions in a different way by cycling and walking.
The European Greenways Association brings together more than 50 partners from 15 countries with the aim of promoting greenways in Europe, using disused railway tracks as much as possible.