Connecting hiking trails across roads
Text and Creativecommons drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt
Check out this duck mother taking her chance with her small ducklings:
Luckily they all made it across, but it gives a good impression of just how difficult crossing roads is for wildlife.
Hikers not only have to cross rivers, but also the huge systems of freeways and other heavy traffic roads. In some places bridges or tunnels are in place, that make it possible for hikers to get to the other side. Most other species are seldom that lucky and that is why we need more foot bridges and tunnels that both hikers and wildlife can use to get across these road gaps
Cars and the logic of driving everywhere creates huge rivers of cars, that divide the landscapes into still smaller parcels, separated by lines of black gaps in nature… For hikers it is possible to cross the smaller ones with good chances of making it. The larger ones are more difficult to get across, so hikers will often instead try to walk along them, looking for an easy place to cross.
Wildlife do the exact same, move forth and back along the busy roads, trying to figure out a way to get to the nature on the other side… eventually taking their chances trying to cross.
Roads separate habitats in ways that are more isolating and impossible to cross for most species, and they make hiking trails much less usable the more gaps there are in them, both for humans and for all the other species that use these trails to get to connect and survive in their sliced up reality
Connecting hiking trails over or under roads is one of the big challenges when building up hiking trail systems, not only because it make these trails much more usable for hikers. But at least also because if these bridges are designed right, they can also work to save endangered wildlife. And make it possible for species of all kinds to survive in a fractured reality, even though their last standing habitats are far apart… Connecting these habitats with hiking trails might be the very best way to help endangered species, as the hikers will become caretakers, making sure the corridors stay open and the patches of nature connected.