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Cycle route through the nature reserve

Those who know the Lauteracher Ried are aware of its singularities: It is one of the last habitats in Vorarlberg to house characteristic ground-nesting bird species like the Western Curlew, the Corn Crake or the Plover. At the same time the Lauteracher Ried is an important recreation area as well as a production area for agriculture operating under strict nature protection regulations.

At the moment crossing the Ried by bicycle on a daily commute is very difficult. Either major detours have to be made or very narrow country roads like the L 41, have to be shared with heavy car traffic. A lot of bike paths are difficult to use in rain or snow given their surface. Therefore the municipalities of Lauterach, Lustenau, Hard, Höchst, Wolfurt, Fußach, Gaißau, Schwarzach and Dornbirn tabled a petition with the province of Vorarlberg to create attractive and fast connections through the Ried for every-day cycle traffic.

The CycleCompetence members Rosinak & Partner and Planoptimo office Dr. Köll as well as the Revital Integrative Naturraumplanung are now working on a comprehensive search for different solutions followed by a strategic environmental assessment. They were commissioned by the municipality of Lauterach and the project is funded by the province of Vorarlberg (also a member of CycleCompetence). The unique challenge is, that on a large part of the area to be crossed building new paths is prohibited and a legal obligation not to deteriorate the natural reserve’s “Natura 2000” conservation status applies. Even though cycling is in itself an environmentally friendly mode of transportation, negative effects on nature are possible.

The cooperative planning process started in spring 2017 has now yielded a first interim result. In a multi-layer analysis eleven possible routes through the Ried were identified and their effects were assessed. As a result of this analysis seven routes were discarded as they were incompatible both with the sensitive nature situation as well as the interests of agricultural and other uses of the land. The remaining routes and sections will be more deeply analysed over the next months: Which routes create the most benefit for cyclists? Which routes do least impair agriculture? But first and foremost: Which routes are most compatible with the interests of nature protection?

A cycle route through the Lauteracher Ried for every-day cyclists, i.e. also commuters to work, is an important gap closure in the province’s cycling route network in an area of strong economic growth with an already high share of cycling traffic. The planning process will take another six months – the results are expected for autumn 2018.

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Posted on May 4, 2018