Connecting the National Parks to the Cities without cars

Smart mobility, public transport and hiking connect well together

Notes on connection cities and nature with public transport. Drawing and text  By Frits Ahlefeldt

Hikers waiting for little yellow train in the high land, public transportation
Connecting nature to the cities with smart, public transportation

National parks and the fast growing cities can help each other if connected by smart, light public transportation. Something that will both benefit the stressed out city dwellers, and help to secure the continued existence of the national parks

Linking urban areas, cities and nature WITHOUT cars is something that has so many benefits that it is strange the National parks are not better connected to the cities.  Here are just a few of these benefits:

Better health and thrive for city dwellers

Staying out in nature just a few hours a day or week will improve health and make people in the cities less sick, less drug addicted, sleep better and live better and more healthy lives. A look at the fast growing expenses that most cities have to spend on sick, stressed out, lonely and depressed citizens, that collapse and hide in their apartments, without work, help or hope, make it clear why something different than subscribing people more and more pharmaceutical drugs, has to be done.

Helping city dwellers to connect to nature in new  and better ways 

Reconnecting to nature is not something that come easy to the generations of ever more TV, smartphone and Netflix watching people, living in the cities today. Getting these groups out in nature takes more than nice images, it takes an efficient, smart and fast public infrastructure.

Something that is possible to design and build with the technology already on the shelves. Car based solutions can’t do it, many of those most in need of contact with nature don’t own a car and most of those that do, are so scared of anything happening to their car that they won’t leave it anywhere unsafe.

Beside this problem, building roads and cars out in the national parks often completely destroy the much needed experience of getting away from them. Instead the solutions for connecting the cities to the national parks need to be public, accessible from the city centers, safe, cheap and reliable.

 Better handling of visitors in the National Parks

Little yellow train in mountains sketch, deer passing
Public transportation should be easy to pass for animals etc.

Another benefit is that public transportation make it easier to handle public access points out in the national parks. This is because all the needed logistics, toilet facilities, waste handling, guide and information points can be build around these places. This help the national parks to easy handle, help and support visitors to have the best possible outdoor experiences, with minimum impact, waste and pollution on sensitive and pristine nature areas and habitats.

Local – low emission activities, holidays and time for all

Often nature experiences are much closer to city dwellers than most of them realize, and when they do, the chances are that many of these people will change their habits, and  start to connect to more of the local nature attractions, they can enjoy all year around.

Often it can come as a surprise to city people, that they can watch the local sunset from a beautiful hill, instead of flying across the globe, to watch the same thing, just from a different hill top.

Enjoying local nature and national parks, instead of those on the other side of the globe is a very good thing for lowering our global use of resources, and will also help city dwellers to  grow a much stronger relationship to nature and the local landscapes, because of the unique chance to experience the same local nature change and surprise in new and different ways throughout the year.

Public transport connections make it easier to reconnect to nature for schools, institutions and the elderly 

Many kindergartens, schools and other institutions have come to realize how much the children, student, elderly, people in recovery etc. gain from connecting to nature.

One of the factors most limiting this is the difficult logistics and expenses of getting larger groups of people forth and back between the city centers and the national parks.

A public transit system between the national parks and cities would make it a lot easier for these groups to gain the healing and thrive, that can come from connecting to nature, instead of just connecting 24/7 to  TV’s and digital educational smart boards indoors in the cities.

No risk of parking / leaving cars in remote areas, and no need to get back to it

Cars generally create way more trouble than anything good out in nature, especially on the hiking trails and National parks. Roads have a very negative impact on both ecology, nature experiences and biodiversity. As an alternative, public transport is much easier to design and use.

Beside this argument, there are also a lot of good reasons for car owners of not using their tons heavy machines when heading for the national parks.  Most car drivers are, with good reason, nervous of leaving their often expensive cars alone, unguarded in places where they might be either stolen or broken into.  And further, if they still choose to take the car, then they have to get back to where they leave their cars. Instead of just heading out, and then reconnecting to the public transport system, to head back to the city.

Is connecting national parks and city centers good for the National parks?

Drawing of mountain cable public transport systems
Idea sketches Low impact public transport for national parks

There are many benefits for the health and thrive of city dwellers of getting direct public connection to the National parks, but what about the benefits for the National parks?

An important benefit is that the amount and frequency, the how, when and where of how visitors to the national parks connect, is much easier to optimize when the access to these nature areas is by public transportation.

The places people can get off, how many visitors there are visiting at a time etc. is much easier to optimize, so both the need of visitors and endangered species, biodiversity can be designed balanced and adjusted for the best possible experiences.

Also things like poaching and other destructive activities can be better monitored and prevented.

More resources for the national parks and trails

The resources that are spend on National Parks will make much more sense to the city dwellers, when they are better connected to them through public transportation systems, because the parks will be something they, their children and elderly can benefit from more often and in easy ways.

This also mean that the local politicians will be much more likely to secure the needed funds for the maintenance of  the National Parks, their trails and facilities –  and the same politicians will also be more likely to help keep any new industrial development plans etc. away from these national parks.


Text and drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt,

Drawings under CreativeCommons license

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