Horsens council in Jutland has created a 0.6 km long green ‘corridor’ where transport, play, exercise and recreation have been taken to a new level.
Af Majken Kobbelgaard Andersen, COWI
The green wedge between city and harbour
The old railway line in the Horsens region has been given new life because of this project that has been realised in cooperation with consulting group COWI. The path makes up the first stage of a route that will connect the railway station, the town centre and the harbour. The path is an important element in improving connections between travel terminals for commuters as the route will be an ideal choice for cyclists and pedestrians.
Horsens is Denmark’s eighth largest town – a provincial town with about 56.000 inhabitants. In recent years, the town has changed its image from an industrial town to one with a high cultural profile and an attractive residential area. 37% of internal travel in the region is now undertaken on bicycles or on foot, though the majority uses cars (about 60%).
The direction of the old harbour line has made it possible to establish an important, direct and effective transport route for cyclists and pedestrians, but has also opened up the opportunity to combine transport with nature and other activities completely sheltered from other traffic in the town centre. And it is exactly this combination of transport by bicycle, on foot or on roller skates amongst other methods, with other experiences in green surroundings that was the original idea with the project.
‘Shared space’ between the birch groves, rope slides and bird houses
The path consists of a 3 metre wide asphalt route that functions under the term ‘shared space’. That is, pedestrians, cyclists and other non-motor traffic share the path without there being a dominating mode of transport and with a minimum of regulation. The route is relatively even without sharp bends. Junctions with other roads are clearly marked to denote right of way.
Plants and trees along the path support an exciting and diverse route. The first stretch from the railway station is dense with birch trees. After, there is a stretch that is more forest-like in an attempt to attract wildlife including putting up high, striking poles with bird houses. The route continues into a hilly landscape with rope slides, climbing frames and big swings etc. On a narrow part of the route, dense planting of trees and bushes will, in time, create a green tunnel. The end of the route is a larger asphalt area with flower beds, which will smooth the transition to more asphalt-dominated areas.
At several points there are signs and equipment related to the history of railway transport to build a picture and tell the story of the old railway. New lights have been put up along the entire route.
Safety and enjoyment amongst the new users
A survey of the number of cyclists on the route both before and after the new path was created has shown that users have risen by more than 50%.
Research has shown that a third of users are commuters going to and from work, a third use it for daily activities (shopping etc.), and a fifth for recreational use or fitness. More than two-thirds use the path 5-7 days each week, that is daily. The path has meant that 43% of cyclists and pedestrians asked have changed their route. Cyclists and pedestrians agree that safety and security on the path are good.