The Inspire bicycle rally on 13 October 2013 in Servoz, although prohibited by the Prefect, triggered the re-examination of a subject that previously stood still for decades. We can, today, announce that a pedestrian and cycle route between Servoz and Les Houches, through the shortest route possible and not via Vaudagne, is on the agenda.
Following the prohibited rally, we stepped up communication with the ATMB, the General Council of Haute-Savoie, the Chamonix Valley Community of Communes, and particularly with the town-hall of Les Houches, who has shown a keen interest in this project. In the spring of 2014, the ATMB director told us that he was ready to make this project a priority and was willing to contribute to it financially, on the condition that we found a project leader. Several meetings with elected officials of the Chamonix Valley took place and, in October 2014, an initial meeting was organised at the town hall of Les Houches with SM3A, the organisation in charge of providing a bicycle route between Geneva and Vallorcine, which includes the Servoz to Les Houches section. We therefore seem to have found our Project leader: the Chamonix Valley Community of Communes.
Finding a better route
A study of the possible routes does exist but it is not fully satisfactory, especially as one of the land owners refuses to authorise a through way on the most obvious route. An exploration of the actual terrain with Nicole Mansart, a Les Houches deputy-mayor, has allowed us to find an alternate route that seems to be even shorter. Experienced technicians of SM3A will have the task of defining the exact route and negotiating the delicate issue of access with land owners. Negotiations for financing the work can also be launched.
Due process takes time – SM3A are talking about 2 years for the land negotiations alone – but we are pleased to be finally on the right path (literally), with elected officials who are committed to seeing this work carried out during their tenure. Pressure from local people and good work between environmental organisations and local officials can lead to positive outcomes. This is something to be happy about.
More technical notes (in today’s state of play):
- The prospective cycle route is situated in a steep area and the surface will be a country track (not tarmac). It will be accessible to touring, city and mountain bikes and will allow bicycle commuting between the top and bottom of the valley. It will serve several hamlets, unlike a purely touristic green route, which can be distant from houses. Its slope may reach 12 to 13%.
- Cyclists who do not want to use this part of the cycle route, between Geneva and Vallorcine, will be able to use the train (the Mont Blanc Express is able to carry a few bicycles).
- Finally, road bikers seeking longer excursions involving greater effort will still be able to use the road through Vaudagne, which is currently being re-surfaced for safety of all users, including cyclists.