Greenway (landscape)

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The Cross Vermont Trail, a greenway.

A greenway is a long, narrow piece of land, where vegetation is encouraged, which is managed for public recreation and slow travel.


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 are distinct from green corridors. Because green corridors have as their primary purpose connection between areas of conserved habitat for use by wildlife, they are not necessarily managed as parks for recreational use, and may not include facilities such as public trails.

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. Turner concluded there are seven types, or 'patterns', of greenway which he named: parkway, blueway, paveway, glazeway, skyway, ecoway and cycleway.[1]

The European Greenways Association defines it as "communication routes reserved exclusively for non-motorised 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).


Greenways are vegetated, linear, and multi-purpose. They incorporate a footpath or bikeway within a linear park. In urban design they are a component of planning for bicycle commuting and walkability.

The land may be newly developed, but usually it is a redevelopment of an abandoned railroad, towpath or unused highway.[2] Greenways may also be colocated within the right-of-way property belonging to still operating railroads;[3] or existing utility lines.[4] Riparian zones are also used as a location for greenways where they provide lineal corridors of regional significance, which because of flooding hazards have been retained as open space.[citation needed]

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 serve the purpose of providing 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 highspeed automobile travel, greenways provide an alternative for people who are elderly, young, less mobile, or seeking a reflective pace.[5][6]

Greenways are a global phenomenon. However, most examples are in Europe and North America.

Notable examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Turner (1995)
  2. ^ Flink, Searns and Olka pp 10–11
  3. ^ Flink, Searns and Olka p 76
  4. ^ Hay pp 4–6
  5. ^ Natural England
  6. ^ Loh et al.
  7. ^


  • Fabos, Julius Gy. and Ahern, Jack (Eds.) (1995) Greenways: The Beginning of an International Movement, Elsevier Press
  • Flink, Charles A. & Searns, Robert M. (1993) Greenways A Guide to Planning, Design and Development Island Press
  • Flink, Charles A., Searns, Robert M. & Olka, Kristine (2001) Trails for the Twenty-First Century Island Press. Washington, DC. ISBN1559638192
  • Hay, Keith G. (1994) "Greenways" The Conservation Fund. Arlington, VA.
  • Little, Charles E. Greenways for America (1990) Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Loh, Tracy Hadden et al. (2012) "Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers: Walking and Bicycling in Small Towns and Rural America" Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Washington, DC. (PDF retrieved 15 March 2012.)
  • Natural England Greenways Handbook (PDF retrieved 15 March 2012.)
  • Smith, Daniel S. & Hellmund, Paul Cawood. (1993) Ecology of Greenways: Design and Function of Linear Conservation Areas. University of Minnesota Press
  • Turner, Tom. "Greenways, blueways, skyways and other ways to a better London," Landscape and Urban Planning Volume 33, Issues 1–3, October 1995, Pages 269–282. Abstract retrieved 15 March 2012 from

External links[edit]