The Greenways Programme for reusing 7,600 kilometres of disused railway lines as “Greenways” (non-motorized infrastructures for cyclists, walkers, and persons with reduced mobility) was set up in Spain in 1993. It was developed by the central government (Ministry of the Environment) and national railway companies, while the Fundación de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (FFE) was responsible for outreach, coordination, and promotion activities. Regional and local governments (over 500 town councils) play a very active role, as do associations of citizens. In 2008 there are 1,600 km of Greenways in Spain.
Greenways recover public spaces for citizens, enable day-to-day journeys to be made in a pollution free manner, encourage cycling and walking, and instil healthy habits that help combat sendentarism and obesity. They make a significant economic and social impact on local communities, usually in rural areas, and help prevent depopulation.
In 2000 the Spanish Greenways Programme received the Dubai Award, and the FFE embarked on an international collaboration to transfer this best practice, showing how it enhances citizens’ living environment and is a model which is applicable in other regions of the world.
In 1998 the FFE was a founding partner of the European Greenways Association, which it chaired until 2004.
Portugal: In 2002, Collaboration agreement with REFER (Portuguese state railway company) to set up a Greenways Programme (Ecopistas). The FFE has provided consulting and training services and has participated in conferences and meetings in Madrid, Lisbon, Oporto, and Coimbra. The two countries are involved in shared, cross border greenway projects.
Italy: The FFE has participated in a great many conferences on Greenways in Italy in close collaboration with the Italian Greenways Association (2003-2007). A week after the 1st National Bicycle Conference (Milan) was held in 2007, the Italian government set up a fund of 2 million euros to develop Greenways in 2008.
Mexico: The FFE organized the 1st and 2nd Ibero-American Greenways Seminar in 2002 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) and in 2004 in Cartagena of Indias (Colombia) respectively, to transfer the best practice and exchange experiences.
A collaboration agreement was signed between FFE and CNCA (National Council for Arts and Culture). They jointly organized the 1st and 2nd International Greenways Seminar of Mexico (2003-Mexico DF and 2006-Orizaba respectively) and they are organizing the 3rd Ibero-American Greenways Seminar (Guadalajara-Mexico) for June, 2008.
Chile: In January 2008, Collaboration agreement on greenways between the FFE and the Chilean National Tourism Service for the transfer of best practices in greenways.