Greenways and Sustainable Urban Mobility Systems

Greenways and Sustainable Urban Mobility Systems

Abdulrahman A. Zawawi (King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia & University of Nottingham, UK), Nicole Porter (University of Nottingham, UK) and Christopher D. Ives (University of Nottingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3507-3.ch002


This chapter describes how greenways can be a constituent of sustainable urban mobility (SUM) systems that reduce automobile dependence while simultaneously having positive environmental and social co-benefits. It begins by providing a brief background on the harmful effects of automobile dependency. A chronological review of the evolution of greenways as a typology, divided into five generations starting from pre-1900 until today, demonstrates how various economic, political, environmental, and social factors have shaped blue-green corridors in different cities, mainly in English-speaking countries. The discussion then focuses on the integration process between greenways and SUM planning, as well as highlighting some of the planning challenges and opportunities of (re)developing greenways to support as non-motorized transport corridors. By critically analyzing the evolution of greenways in relation to urban mobility and their integration process, this chapter supports green space, transport, and design professionals to work toward a shared vision of sustainable cities.
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Automobile dependency in cities negatively impacts people and the environment directly (i.e., air and noise pollution), indirectly (i.e., cardiovascular and respiratory disease), and accumulatively (i.e., climate change). Newman and Kenworthy (1999) define automobile dependence, as “a situation in which a city develops on the assumption that automobile use will predominate so that it is given priority in infrastructure and the form of urban development.” (p.60). Sustainable urban mobility (SUM), by contrast, rebalances the priorities of transportation modes in cities. Transitioning towards SUM necessitates limiting the usage of the private automobile and its associated infrastructure, promoting public and non-motorized transport modes, reducing the need to travel, shortening distances, as well as using renewable energy sources (such as biofuels, solar, etc.) to power vehicles (United Nations Advisory Committee of Local Authorities; UNACLA Secretariat, 2013). SUM encourages an ideological shift from the connotation of urban mobility planning as being a mere means of transport provision, to a “focus on the human right to equitable access to opportunity.” (UN-Habitat 2013, p.1). Five essential strategies to reduce automobile dependence include prioritization of public transit and non-motorized modes of mobility over car-use, implementing traffic-calming schemes, integration between land-use and transportation planning, application of growth management approaches to delimit urban sprawl, and introducing automobile usage taxations (Newman & Kenworthy, 1999).

This chapter focuses on how the integration of land-use and transportation planning can reduce automobile dependence, specifically through incorporating greenways as a constituent of SUM systems, particularly non-motorized transport (NMT) infrastructure. Sustainable urban mobility planning (SUMP) of cities found in Southern, Central-eastern, and Eastern Europe is not yet implemented due to location-based urban challenges, differences in culture and planning practices, and lack awareness of its potential (CIVITAS, 2019). The same holds in many cities of the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia where car-based planning is the norm, and its outcomes are affecting the realization of creating sustainable cities (Dora and Hosking and Mudu & Fletcher, 2011). By highlighting the integration process of greenways and SUMP, as well as the challenges and opportunities, this chapter support automobile-dependent cities to adopt and promote SUMP. At the same time, reduce the gap between the treatment of green infrastructure (one aspect of land-use planning) or, more specifically, greenways and transportation planning as separate issues, like in many developing nations.

The chapter is divided into four sections. First, the authors of this chapter recap the multiple negative impacts of car dependence and identify green infrastructure approaches, and the provision of greenways in particular, as a means of addressing this problem. In the second section, an updated comprehensive chronological review of greenways’ evolution worldwide is presented. Moreover, section 2 describes how the realization of greenways as mobility corridors was influenced by several global events, phenomena, and planning initiatives. Relevant literature for these two sections was identified via searching an initial search of the Scopus database using strategically chosen keywords (i.e., greenways, SUMP, and NMT). Additional key literature was identified by snowballing from reference lists and through personal communication with urban landscape planning experts. A qualitative review of this literature was then conducted (Bryman, 2016), with key themes identified and distilled.

Analysis and interpretations of Section 2 findings are displayed in Section 3 by explaining the integration process between greenways and SUMP, in particular, NMT or ‘soft mobility’ - a human-powered mode that includes walking, cycling, roller skate, and skateboards (La Rocca, 2010). In addition, Section 3 describes how the integration of both can aid in overcoming the automobile dependency of many cities Worldwide. This chapter is concluded, in Section 4, by the reflection on some of the challenges, and opportunities, found in past projects and academic studies of planning urban greenways as non-motorized transport corridors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Sustainable Urban Mobility (SUM): Meeting travel needs of the current generation with minimal environmental impacts, and without affecting the ability of future generations to meet their own.

Non-Motorized Transport: Also known as active transport or human-powered means of transportation, which refers to modes such as walking, bicycling, skates, rickshaws, skateboards, scooters, and wheelchairs.

Ecological Restoration: Human support for ecosystems and natural habitats’ recovery process from degradation, damage, or destruction.

Landscape (Noun): All the visible natural and/or human-made elements in a geographical area that define its characteristics. Furthermore, the landscape is a composition of geophysical (i.e., landforms and water bodies), living (i.e., flora), human (i.e., vertical and horizontal structures), and transitory elements (i.e., weather conditions) in a given area or region.

Urbanism: A study that aims to understand the interaction between urbanization, its processes and outcomes, and the people who live in such an urban area (i.e., a city).

New Urbanism: A planning and design approach that emphasizes the function and ethics of (re)building urban areas to be walkable, diverse, connected, mixed-used, aesthetically pleasing, and compact while protecting natural environments.

Green Infrastructure: A continuous and integrated network of natural and maintained open spaces and corridors that are planned, designed, and managed strategically at various scales to sustain the structure and functions of ecosystems while providing multifunctional benefits to people and places.

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