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.
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. Greenways may also be colocated within the right-of-way property belonging to still operating railroads; or existing utility lines. 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.
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.
Greenways are a global phenomenon. However, most examples are in Europe and North America.
- Anne Springs Close Greenway a 2,100 acre greenway and recreation complex in Fort Mill, South Carolina
- Boise River Greenbelt, a 20 mile long trail system in Boise, Idaho.
- Capital Area Greenbelt, a twenty mile greenway connecting neighborhoods, parks and opens spaces in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
- Capital Area Greenway, one of the nation's oldest community greenway systems in Raleigh, North Carolina
- Cardinal Greenway, Cardinal Greenways is Indiana’s Longest Span of Recreational Trails.
- Carrall Street Greenway, currently under development in Vancouver
- Central Valley Greenway, a 24-kilometre pedestrian and cyclist route through Metro Vancouver, running from Vancouver to New Westminster.
- Cherry Creek Greenway, Denver, Colorado's premiere urban greenway
- Chrysler Canada Greenway is a 42 km-long rail trail in Essex County, Ontario
- Dequindre Cut, a greenway connecting to the International Riverfront in Detroit, Michigan.
- East Coast Greenway, a trail being constructed along the Atlantic coast of the United States
- The Emerald Necklace, a series of interconnected parks in Boston, Massachusetts designed by Frederick Law Olmsted
- EuroVelo cycle routes and the European Greenways Association routes throughout Europe.
- Guangdong Greenway, Guangdong province, China including much of Guangzhou city including the Guangzhou Higher Education Mega Center in Panyu District provides foot and bicycle paths along the pearl river and other scenic areas.
- The Greenway, foot and cycle path in East London, England
- GD Greenway, in the Pearl River Delta, PRC.
- Gold Coast Oceanway in Australia
- Greater Grand Forks Greenway, large public park on the banks of the Red River and Red Lake River in Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota
- High Line (New York City)
- Leon Creek Greenway, San Antonio, Texas linking The University of Texas at San Antonio by foot and bicycle path to Leon Valley and beyond.
- Little Sugar Creek Greenway, 20-mile long greenway in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
- Manhattan Waterfront Greenway, a circumferential foot and cycle path around Manhattan Island.
- Maryville Alcoa Greenway, an eight mile long foot and cycle path extending from Maryville Intermediate School in Maryville, Tennessee to the end of Springbrook Park in Alcoa, Tennessee
- Midtown Greenway, five-and-a-half mile pedestrian and bicycle path through Minneapolis, Minnesota
- MillionMile Greenway, an organization and a system of connected greenways across metro Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the eastern United States
- Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway, 50 mile trail in southwestern New Hampshire
- Mountains to Sound Greenway, 150 million acres of land surrounding Interstate 90 from Seattle across the Cascade Mountains to Ellensburg, Washington
- Niagara River Greenway Plan, along the US Niagara Frontier
- Ohio & Erie Canalway, follows the path of the original Ohio and Erie Canal in Northeast Ohio, United States. A portion is maintained by the United States National Park Service as a part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
- Ohlone Greenway, in the East Bay region of the San Francisco Bay Area
- Parkland Walk, a reclaimed railway line in North London
- Rachel Carson Greenway, in Maryland
- The River Ring, a system of connected greenways encircling St. Louis, Missouri
- Rose Kennedy Greenway, a series of parks and open spaces in Boston, Massachusetts
- South East London Green Chain, a set of connected parks and open spaces in London, UK
- Trans Canada Trail in Canada
- Vía Verde del Pas, between El Astillero and Puente Viesgo in Spain
- Turner (1995)
- Flink, Searns and Olka pp 10–11
- Flink, Searns and Olka p 76
- Hay pp 4–6
- Natural England
- Loh et al.
- 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 www.sciencedirect.com.