A cycle route to enhance the heritage and landscape of a territory: for which users and to what effect? The case of the Rhône River

Authors: Matthieu Adam*, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon, Anne-Laure Collard, UMR G-EAU, IRSTEA Montpellier , Marylise Cottet, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon , Sylvie Morardet, UMR G-EAU, IRSTEA Montpellier , Anne Rivière-Honegger, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon , Lise Vaudor, UMR EVS, CNRS, Université de Lyon, ENS de Lyon
Topics: Social Geography, Transportation Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: Cycling, tourism, heritage, landscape, rivers, class, age, gender
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: 8223, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Local authorities see the growing popularity of cycling as an opportunity to develop tourism. Cycling routes that cross different regions or countries, often along rivers, are multiplying: The Green Route in Canada, The North Sea Cycle Route from Scotland to Norway, the Danube Cycle, etc. The ViaRhôna rides along the Rhône River for 815 kilometers, from Lake Geneva (Switzerland) to the Mediterranean Sea (France).

During the summer of 2017, we conducted interviews (16) and a quantitative survey (550 questionnaires) among ViaRhôna’s users. We focused on the identification of these users and how the cycle route changes their familiarity with the heritage and landscapes of the river.

Our survey confirms that, while these bike paths are primarily built for tourists, local people are using them for leisure, commuting, or sports. The users are mostly male (57%) and relatively elderly (median age: 56 years old). They are retirees (35%) or upscale professionals: 43% of the working persons are executives and 32% have intermediate occupations.

Our analysis also shows that the existence of the ViaRhôna contributes to the increased use of the banks of the Rhône River and enhances their value in the eyes of the various people who frequent them. The representations of the inhabitants and tourists on the riparian territories seem to evolve.

The ViaRhôna favors the discovery of a natural heritage or greater familiarity with it. But the fact that the users are mainly well-to-do and relatively elderly men raises a question: who really benefits from these great amenities?

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