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Open AccessArticle

The Unexploited Potential of Converting Rail Tracks to Greenways: The Spanish Vías Verdes

Urban Design and Regional Planning Unit, Building Sciences and Urbanism Department, University of Alicante, E-03080 Alicante, Spain
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Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12030881
Received: 13 December 2019 / Revised: 21 January 2020 / Accepted: 22 January 2020 / Published: 24 January 2020
The reuse of Spain’s obsolete railway infrastructure as greenways, namely vías verdes, reflects a Europe-wide territorial strategy, which has resulted in the refurbishment of more than 2500 km of abandoned Spanish railway lines. The potential of these vías verdes as strategical green infrastructure linkers between settlements and their peripheral natural environments is assessed in two Spanish case studies of Girona and Alicante. The territorial elements that affect vías verdes (natural landscape areas, urban settlements and population) are obtained from public administration sources. Additionally, users’ activity through the Wikilock social network is considered. The spatial analysis shows the role of vías verdes in terms of landscape value, accessibility and planning strategy: the itineraries of the vías verdes connect different valuable natural areas with diverse landscape patterns in near proximity to urban nuclei; more than 65% of the population can access a vía verde in less than 200 metres. Moreover, it offers the opportunity to complete a network which could link urban nuclei and their natural periphery through the refurbishment of the remaining stretches. Despite the fact that the full potential of these vías verdes as strategical greenways has not been fully considered in the green infrastructure planning, these corridors could meet environmental, cultural and social sustainable goals. View Full-Text
Keywords: greenway; vía verde; green infrastructure; landscape connectors; urban planning; regional planning; leisure infrastructure greenway; vía verde; green infrastructure; landscape connectors; urban planning; regional planning; leisure infrastructure
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García-Mayor, C.; Martí, P.; Castaño, M.; Bernabeu-Bautista, Á. The Unexploited Potential of Converting Rail Tracks to Greenways: The Spanish Vías Verdes. Sustainability 2020, 12, 881.

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