Desire path  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A desire path (also known as a desire line, social trail, goat track or bootleg trail) is a path developed by erosion caused by footfall or by bicycle. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width and amount of erosion of the line represents the amount of demand.

Desire paths emerge as shortcuts where constructed ways take a circuitous route, have gaps or are lacking entirely. The paths take on an organically grown appearance by being unbiased toward existing constructed routes.

Desire paths manifest on the surface of the earth where original movement by individuals indicates, thereby encouraging more travel. Explorers tread through foliage or grass, leaving a trail "of least resistance" for followers.

As historic antecedents to modern roads

Many streets in older cities began as desire paths, which evolved over the decades or centuries into the modern streets of today.

The path of Interstate 95 between the cities of Boston and Providence in the USA is said to have originated as a desire line in the form of a trail followed by 17th century Native Americans, which subsequently became a primitive turnpike and eventually a superhighway.

Other uses of the concept

The image of a user created path, in seeming defiance of authority, across the earth between the concrete, has captured the imagination of many as a metaphor for, variously, anarchism, intuitive design, individual creativity, or the wisdom of crowds.

In Urban planning, the concept of desire lines can be used when analyzing traffic patterns in any mode of travel. See, for example, its use in the 1959 Chicago Area Transportation Study to describe choices commuters made about railroad and subway trips.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Desire path" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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