Greenways' legal framework
A public space open to all, the greenway has its own specific legal framework. The SMDRA is in charge of applying the rules for using and occupying this public space which it owns. The aim is to guarantee users’ safety and their cohabitation with the greenway’s other activities. No specific texts control the creation or management of greenways, only traffic is regulated.
For the creation of greenways, developers may refer to the National Scheme for Cycle Paths and Greenways, updated in 2010. But, this scheme only presents guidelines and has no legal value. Specifications have also been written, but these only offer recommendations for creating greenways.
For traffic on greenways, the Highway Code comprises two specific provisions:
- article R 110-2: a greenway is a “route reserved exclusively for non-motorised journeys, pedestrians and horse riders" (a greenway manager may choose to prohibit access to the greenway by horse riders)
- article R 412-7: "drivers of motorised vehicles must not drive on a greenway".
This reference in the Highway Code implies that greenways must be equipped with horizontal (paint on the ground) and vertical (signs) signposting. A specific sign also indicates the presence of a greenway.
In order to ensure compliance with these regulatory provisions, a police authority monitors their application. For greenways, it has been decided that policing powers are executed by municipal councils for sections of the greenway situated on their territory, and by the Prefect for all areas outside of this area.
Some rules concerning the use of the Gaves Greenway
In order to ensure cohabitation between the greenway’s users and activities, in 2009, the SMDRA published rules for using the Gaves Greenway which, in particular, define the rules of good conduct to adopt. All people wishing to use the greenway for an activity or for works, or as a temporary passage, must apply to the SMDRA for authorisation:
Organisation of an activity or a sporting and cultural event
Associations, private individuals, companies or local authorities which want to use the greenway as a support for their activity, must apply for an authorisation from the Sub-Prefecture of Argelès-Gazost. They must also contact the SMDRA before organising their event for information about the procedure to follow. Once obligations in terms of security, declaration, insurance have been fulfilled, the authorisation will be issued by the Sub-Prefecture and the SMDRA.
Temporary occupation of the greenway for the passage of service vehicles
Some public authorities have to use the greenway to maintain the infrastructure and land, or to carry out work near the greenway. To that end, an authorisation request must be sent to the SMDRA and if this temporary use is compatible with using the Gaves Greenway, the SMDRA will sign an agreement with the applicant defining the conditions and responsibilities of this occupation.
Occupation for works, or for installing infrastructure on the greenway's land
When local authorities or companies need to use the greenway for works, the SMDRA must be consulted upstream in order to check that these works do not damage the greenway’s property. If works (mains, networks, etc.) need to be installed on the greenway’s land, the SDMRA must also be consulted upstream. Technical specifications will be supplied and the syndicat may ask to carry out an on-site visit. According to the elements available, the SMDRA will either authorise or refuse the works. In the first case, an authorisation agreement will also be signed.
Creation of a new access to the greenway
Any public or private individual wishing to create an access to the greenway must consult the SMDRA upstream. In effect, the SMDRA refuses the creation of any new access points except in the case of force majeure concerning the safety of users.
Advertising alongside the greenway
The rules drawn up in 2009 specify that all advertising, advertisement boards and advance signs are prohibited along the length of the greenway (path and verges).
Sustainable development and the greenway's upkeep
- An integration and professionnalisation approach
The greenway’s upkeep is entrusted to the Syndicat Mixte du Haut-Lavedan’s Green Brigade. This green brigade has been registered since 2007 as "Integration Workshop and Works" and has many years of experience in socio-professional integration. For 2011, the SMDRA concluded an integration and professionalisation service market with the Green Brigade to carry out the Gaves Greenway's upkeep. This market involves the realisation of social utility activities by people experiencing difficulties with social and professional integration. The hours of work paid are combined with a specific and personalised support system.
The Green Brigade carries out all the greenway’s maintenance work, excluding major renovation work on the path or specific developments.
There are several types of work involved and these concern 17 km of pathway between Lourdes and Pierrefitte-Nestalas (the 1 km of greenway situated in Lourdes is maintained by the municipality’s services):
- plant control alongside the path: cutting, clearing, weed control
- landscaping: hedge pruning, tree cutting, planting
- maintenance: repair work on the path, installation of signs, maintenance of signs, installation and maintenance of equipment (benches, posts, etc.)
-cleaning: sweeping, blowing, occasional cleaning.
The annual budget for maintaining the Gaves Greenway is about €15,000.
Every year, a maintenance schedule is defined by the SMDRA and the Green Brigade and regular visits are carried out to control the services’ proper execution. These visits also help to monitor the good quality of the surface and the path’s cleanliness.
Any comments and observations by users and local residents about the greenway’s upkeep are taken into account by the SMDRA.
- For more environmentally-friendly maintenance
In 2010, the SMDRA committed to an approach to reduce the use of phytosanitary products for weed control along the path. The SMDRA and the Green Brigade have identified a certain number of sensitive areas (ditches, banks of the Gave) where the use of phytosanitary products is forbidden. These areas now undergo mechanical weed control (manual) and, in 2011, the Green Brigade will be testing thermal weed control.
To date, only these areas are subject to treatments because mechanical clearing of the path's entire 17 km would require very regular interventions by the Green Brigade. This is not possible today in terms of the workforce available and cost. Consequently, annual chemical treatments are authorised outside of sensitive areas and are carried out under optimal conditions (no wind, no rain and in accordance with the safety of users).