Development of sustainable access to the coastal areas of Kent and Pas-de-Calais encourages low-carbon tourism.
On both shores of Dover Strait, work has been undertaken to support eco-mobility practices, especially in the field of tourism.
In Kent, a Countryside and Coastal Access Improvement Plan is being developed to enhance low-carbon public access to tourism attractions and more broadly, improve the opportunities for residents to adopt sustainable modes of travel in their everyday life. Walking and cycling routes have been developed that connect residential neighbourhoods with schools, community facilities and places of employment. This helps to reduce the number of short distance car journeys, address increasing traffic congestion concerns and enhance the environment. In addition it provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and leisure activities, which support and encourage low carbon growth in the rural economy.
On the French side, on a complementary way, emphasis is given to propose new travel modes based on active mobility to reinforce the attractiveness of the seaside and widened the range of the touristic offers. It enables travellers to plan their trip in the area from everywhere in Europe without the need to bring their personal car.
Stakeholders involved in England: Kent County Council, local user groups (eg. Ramblers’ Association, British Horse Society, Sustrans), tourism partners including Visit Kent, landowners, district and parish councils, volunteers and local communities.
In France: Pas-de-Calais Tourisme, Pas-de-Calais County Council.
The costs required to achieve these objectives mainly come from human resources from the local authorities involved, as it is part of their competencies. Moreover, as workload and public works to improve the walking and biking paths are not fixed, it is impossible to provide an accurate estimation.
Evidence of success
Public rights of way provides sustainable transport links for recreation and commuting. It reduces number of short car journeys, congestion, improves access to the countryside and encourages residents to adopt healthier lifestyles.
It also widened the touristic offers. In France, 30 electric bicycles were rented 1 700 times during their first season. It is estimated that 18 million leisure cycling trips in South East England brought around £345million (€400million) to the region.
Managing the public rights of way network is challenging. Landowner agreement for public access is a prerequisite. It requires a careful balance between private & public interests.
Besides the volume of improvement requests received often exceeds the human & economic resources available.
Potential for learning or transfer
Off-road walking and cycling routes can be found everywhere across Europe. These low carbon modes of transport bring social, economic and environmental benefits. Their improvement strategy can be replicated in other regions and should be integrated with a sustainable touristic strategy.
The needs of walkers and cyclists vary according to their culture. Therefore, it is always useful to see what others do to answer these needs. It is equally important to develop a common signage, and to create links between walking and cycling associations from across the strait.
Finally it is essential to listen carefully to the customers and stakeholders so that public aspirations and user requirements are clearly understood. It is also important to invest time and energy with local stakeholders to establish productive working partnerships. This is because their help will be needed to deliver new schemes and manage trails in the long-term future to maximise the potential benefits of eco-mobility.
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