“Grüner Ring Leipzig” (GRL) implements regional action plans for sustainable development of natural tourism. In past years the focus shifted to cycling tourism.
GRL is a regional association of 14 cities and municipalities and 2 districts. Originally launched in 1996 to increase the attractiveness of Leipzig and its surrounding area, it is an inter-communal organization that serves a wide range of topics related to regional development, such as ecological aspects and the development of natural tourism. The area around Leipzig is characterized by former mining grounds which are being revitalized. The flooding of the open pit mines led to the development of an extensive lake landscape and connection between lakes and rivers which became an important local recreation area.
For a sustainable management, various working groups and sub-working groups have been set up within the association in order to develop suitable action plans with stakeholders from industry and civil society. In the area of cycle tourism, two circular cycle routes were implemented of almost 200 km length, which enables the touristic linkage of all 16 participating municipalities and cities. There is a 65 km long bike path along the city limits of Leipzig (“Innerer Ring-Cycling Route”) and a 134 km long bike path (“Grüner-Ring-Leipzig Cycling Route”) through the rural surroundings.
Current points of action include increasing the quality of existing routes, creating barrier-free crossings, as well as promoting intermodality and electromobility, e.g. by spreading bike and ride facilities close to public transport points or by expanding charging stations for e-bikes.
“Grüner Ring Leipzig” relies on external funding sources especially on regional and national funds. In recent years, funds were used to improve and develop signposting, charging infrastructure for e-bike, track quality, intermodal traffic solutions for bikes and bicycle parking spaces.
Evidence of success
In 2016, the Grüner-Ring-Leipzig Cycling Route (GRL-R) became part of the regional main cycle route in the “SachsenNetz Rad” - the official network of cycle paths of the Free State of Saxony.
In general, the association takes an important part in regional planning. It for example hosts an annual urban-rural conference to strengthen the exchange between the City of Leipzig and its surrounding areas.
The association consists of a variety of administrative stakeholders which unfold from rural municipalities to suburban areas. Therefore, decision making can take rather long as municipalities set different priorities to the actions of the association.
Potential for learning or transfer
This Good Practice shows, how cycling infrastructure can develop a rural or recreational area and connect it to an adjacent urban area at the same time. It also shows how inter-communal cooperation can benefit the development of a region, where administrative stakeholders define common goals to bring forward in their local planning.
The cycling infrastructure can be used both for day-to-day traffic and common cycle tourism. It shows new ways of transportation to its potential users as well as to planning agencies and traffic companies and at the same time brings ecologic and economic benefits as well.
Furthermore, a regional organisation structure like this, will not only create awareness for the topics of sustainable transportation and fostering natural heritage, it also creates a regional identity with these values. It can therefore be transferred to other regions, which want to enhance their urban-rural cooperation with the goal of promoting sustainable cycling mobility.
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