enjoying the foliage

desire paths

Posted on: Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guys, I have SO MUCH work to do now and in the next few weeks, but I feel compelled to post this. From kottke:

The Desire Paths Flickr pool. Desire paths are improvised paths built collectively by pedestrians trying to find the shortest way across the grass, like ants laying down pheromone trails to food. I’ve heard of some clever institutions who wait for desire paths to be laid down by pedestrians and then put permanent sidewalks in those places.

There are tons of Desire Paths around UofT and I’m always intrigued by them. There is something rebellious and vaguely romantic about rejecting sidewalks. Do people all naturally seek a similar path? Was it a couple of people who obstinately grouped together and decided to walk the same trail? How long does it take to trample a path? I think about this every day.

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6 Responses to "desire paths"

Oh man, I walk one of those at least once a day. Because Kingston is obstinately built along the water such that all of its roads curve with the St. Lawrence, there is no route along a system of grids that will take me directly to school. I have a great love for travel efficiency, so this irritates me to no end. Lacking a magic carpet or other floaty-type device, the fastest way to the north end of campus is down my street and across the park. It’s all covered in snow now, but there is indeed a desire path. I suppose it was created by people like me zipping to class from the waterfront/downtown neighbourhood. It’s not the prettiest desire path ever, but it gets people to campus or uptown. People play sports over it in better weather, so you might just get hit in the face with a frisbee.

I do this every day after a snow fall. There’s this one field I cut across to get to an intersection and I’ll walk back and forth making a path in the snow winding around trees and once I use it a few times everyone will cut across it and it will get tramped down into a path until the next snow fall where I’ll make a new path around trees going in different ways.

I don’t like it when they pave over them, as they obviously do at certain quads and stuff. It turns everything into this concrete wasteland. Better to leave ’em free and wild like at Vic. : )

Oh Brian, that sounds just like you. You are a formidable individual.

It’s pretty important, Prat, that you allow me to write articles again. I’ve been taken off the writing articles list or something.

She got jealous of your elephant post.

Prat, it’s so deliciously Prat that you would find desire paths endearing 🙂 There are indeed a couple in UofG, most notably a direct diagonal across Johnston Green for easy access to the intersection that leads to the OVC. Much trampled throughout the day. The form of desire paths is easy to imagine in an urban landscape, but how are they created as trails through forests (ones not mulched anyways)? Just a couple individuals creating a favourite path? Lovely.

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