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Environmentally-friendly transport in the Park

Within the framework of the work package entitled "Sustainable management: parks as examples of good practice«, a study on environmentally-friendly transport was implemented during the project duration in Sečovlje Salina Nature Park. From the visitors we wished to get their opinion about the reasonableness and utility of electric vehicles for transportation through the Park. We purchased two Elefteria electric bikes, which could be used by the visitors at Lera free of charge. After the tests, they were kindly requested to fill in a questionnaire.

Part of the results was also gathered in the Park's web portal. Almost half (42%) of the visitors had learnt about Sečovlje Salina Nature Park from their friends and acquaintances, 22% had searched for information on the Internet, while only 5% of them had heard about the Park at tourist info centres. A third of them visited the Park only once or never, whereas 17% of them stated that they visit the Park quite regularly. Most often they opted for a walk (28%), while 12% of them were only looking for peace and quiet. Two thirds of the visitors believe in climate change, although only 58% of them think that the introduction of transport in the Park is unnecessary and that the visitors should simply walk through it. 15% of the visitors think that the most suitable means of transportation would be a little electric train, 10% of them are in favour of electric bikes and 14% of ordinary bikes.
Utterly different results were obtained from the visitors who had tested the electric bike in practice. In the 2010-2011 period, 100 visitors from 10 different countries were enabled a tour through the Park with Elefteria electric bikes. The research involved about the same number of males and females, with the majority of them (62%) belonging to the age class between 30-60 years. Most of them were, as expected, Slovenians (48%), Germans (14%), Austrians (13%) and Italians (11%). All of them confirmed that the ride with the bike was comfortable. 71% of the respondents covered the entire path at Lera with the aid of electric drive, a little less than a third (27%) switched the electric drive off here and there, while only 1 visitor decided not to use the electric drive at all. 78% of the respondents stopped at info boards, but just all of them observed the surroundings during their ride with the electric bike. They were impressed by the easiness of the ride, the ecological use of power, as well as simplicity and noiselessness of the ride. No less than 82% of the respondents said that the introduction of this kind of transport was »great«, 17% of them commended our intent, while only 1 of the hundred thought that the introduction of this kind of transport did not seem sensible.
In June 2012, a Villager electric vehicle was also introduced at Lera, to experimentally transport the visitors for a couple of weeks from the Lera entrance to the Visitor Centre. In these two weeks, the users were asked again to fill in the questionnaire prepared by us.
During June and August 2912, 114 visitors from 17 different countries were enabled a drive with the Villager 8 electric vehicle. The research again included about the same number of males and females, the majority of which belonged to the age class above 60 years (32.4%), followed by visitors belonging to the 31-45 (29.8%) and 46-60 age class (29.8%). The option for this kind of transport by older visitors was not surprising, given that the summer 2012 was extremely hot. Most of them were, as expected, Slovenians and Italians (Fig. ) and they all confirmed that the ride was comfortable. During the ride they were impressed by the ecological use of power as well as by simplicity and noiselessness of the ride.
A small Alpha scooter was tested by us, the Park's employees. It is used for short drives at Lera and elsewhere in the field.
The introduction of electric bikes, scooters and other electric vehicles is sensible in protected areas, for it enables lower transport costs, but at the same time dictates certain demands to the managers (storage space, connection to the power network, maintenance) that provide for a smooth and high quality service. The autonomy of electric vehicles is conditioned by the electric drive load (slopes, carrying capacity) which, however, is in our case minimal owing to the fact that the path has no slopes at all. 

Structure of visitors (per separate countries) testing the Villager 8 electric vehicle.

Age structure of visitors testing the Villager 8 electric vehicle 

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