Improvements to the banks of rivers and other waterways are at the heart of many of urban development projects across the world. Long overlooked or exploited mainly as roads, the banks of urban waterways are nowadays increasingly being treated as places of recreation, as important markers of a city’s identity and as tools for improving the quality of residents’ lives.
Lyon riverbanks: places of leisure
In Lyon, the2007 project to improve the Rhône riverbanks supplanted the former car parks to create a grand promenade stretching over five kilometres (10 ha) through the city, permitting the people of Lyon to re-establish their historic connection with the river. From the Tête d’Or park to the Gerland park, the banks of the Rhône now offer a range of different ambiances and serve a variety of different uses, including playing football or boules, rollerskating, skateboarding or simply walking through landscaped gardens where special paths have been laid out for both strollers and cyclists.
This project to “reconquer” the quayside along the left bank of the Rhône symbolises the reconciliation of Lyon and its inhabitants with the river. Completed in 2007, the project involved the removal of 1,600 parking spaces and the creation in their place of a 5km (10ha) area of landscaped riverbank connecting the Tête d’Or and Gerland parks. The layout of the new riverbank places great emphasis on soft mobility, leisure and return to nature. Already a popular and iconic place for both residents and tourists, it is envisaged as the first phase of a more extensive “reappropriation” of the river by the city.
HCMC: Improving and greening the waterways
In HCMC, recent urban development projects in the metropolitan centre have already brought major improvements by greening the waterway banks and improving water quality in the creeks and in the Saigon River. These improvements will soon extend to the creation of a central lake in the new urban area of Thủ Thiêm. The reclaiming and development of the waterway banks has contributed to the creation of beautiful urban landscapes which serve as recreational and strolling areas for the local community. In addition, the upgrading and exploitation of the waterways has also created favourable conditions for the future development of waterway transportion and river tourism.