You’re running late to the bus stop. You check your clock every few strides — there’s still hope to make it. But after you turn a corner, you see that the sidewalk you’ve been sprinting takes a ridiculous curve instead of going straight to the street where you need to go. So what do you do? Cut the line through the grass. You’ve just taken a ‘desire path,’ described by Robert Macfarlane as “paths & tracks made over time by the wishes & feet of walkers, especially those … that run contrary to design or planning”; he calls them “free-will ways.”
Robert Moor offers other terms, such as ‘cow paths,’ ‘pirate paths,’ ‘social trails,’ ‘kemonomichi (beast trails),’ ‘chemins de l’âne (donkey paths),’ and ‘Olifantenpad (elephant trails).’
JM Barrie described them as ‘Paths that have Made Themselves.’
Whichever word you decide to use, there’s a whole subreddit dedicated to these shortcuts, and it perfectly illustrates that urban developers aren’t always on top of their game. Or that people are just lazy. Or maybe it’s both!
01. Next Level Desire Path
02. Desire Path Created By A Squirrel We Feed Peanuts To Every Morning
03. Desire Path Recognition In The Netherlands
04. Never Heard Of This Before, But Figured I Had The Perfect One
05. Understandable Desire Path
06. Been Here 30 Years, I Don’t Think The Gate Has Ever Been Used
07. Beautiful Exemplar
08. Update: Tree Is Budding + Secondary Path
09. “Please, Take This Circuitous Route Following The Perimeter” Signed, The Architects
10. We Won!
11. Well Worn Wal-Mart Path. Deepest I’ve Ever Seen
12. Desire Steps?
13. Desire Stairs
14. The Fast Track To Fastrac
15. A Low-Tech Approach To Defeating A Desire Path
16. They’re Both Kind Of Appealing
17. This Is A Walkway, Thanks Though, Lil’ Sign
18. One Side Preferred
19. Long, Foggy, More Direct Desire Path At UCSC
20. Ultimate Acceptance
21. My University Gave Into Our Desire Path- In A Way That Created Another, Smaller Desire Path
22. One Of The Useful Desire Paths
23. Desire Paths, Kaunas, Lithuania C.1976
24. Miami U (Ohio) With The Awareness!!
25. It’s Not Very Long, But It’s Got Character
26. Desire Path So Strong Is Goes Through A Metal Mesh Fence
27. Absolute Behemoth Desired Path Next To The College In My Home Town
28. Frosty Scotland
29. Three Years Ago, I Posted About A Desire Path On My Campus. We Are Successful!
30. Desire Path To Avoid A Branch Hanging Over Another Larger Desire Path
31. My Daughter Found The Shortest Way Home
32. I See One In The Making
33. Desire Path? Give Me That Desire Street!
34. Rest In Peace, My Friend
35. A Particular Pointless One
36. A Long Stretch Of Train Tracks Separates Two Shopping Centers. No Amount Of Signs Can Stop People
37. A Cool One In My Town
38. Just Saved 3 Seconds With This Beauty, 6 If You Count The Return Trip
39. Running Down The Desire Path
40. A Rejection Of The Most Confusing Section Of Sidewalk In My Apartment Complex
41. Smallest Desire Path: Cyclists Avoiding A Small Gap-Bump On The Asphalt
42. Spotted On The UC Riverside Campus
43. Public Footpaths In The UK Through Fields Are Desire Highways
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