viadonau is responsible for the upkeep of over 500 km of towpaths of which 250 km are tarmacked cycle paths.
These towpaths are just as essential for river traffic today as they were in former times. If a ship is in distress, they serve as access roads for the emergency services (fire, ambulance, police). Towpaths are also important supply routes for construction sites along the river and are regularly used by ships' crews, navigation and water surveillance and of course by viadonau within the context of its many conservation activities. Last but not least the towpaths looked after by viadonau form part of the 430 km long section of the Austrian international bike trail Euro Velo 6 from the Atlantic to the Black Sea. The cycle path is used between Passau and Bratislava annually by about 1.8 million cyclists and this number is rising.
viadonau's conservation teams are constantly striving to keep the Danube's towpaths in good condition, either by clean-up measures immediately after natural events such as floods or storms, or by the regular clearing and cutting back of foliage and trees etc. needed to ensure the continual use of the paths.
The introduction of a maintenance management system for the Danube's towpaths means that available budget funds can be used effectively by creating priority rankings and recommendations for the implementation of the most effective restoration methods. The condition of the towpaths is assessed and recorded in a databank on a yearly basis by using a GPS system. This data is then analysed and priority redevelopment areas are identified and associated costs can be calculated. In addition to the technical determination of the extent of damage or disrepair, traffic data, visitor statistics, requests by municipalities etc. are also taken into account when prioritising improvement projects. Above all, root damage and potholes are the most common damage to towpaths. In order not to disturb the cycling season, all essential maintenance work is carried out in the low season for cyclists.
The introduction of the maintenance management system has seen viadonau play its part to improve the quality of the Danube cycle paths.
Further information about the Austrian Danube cycle paths can be found on the ARGE Danube Austria Website (in German).