home Lingo Desire Path

Desire Path

Lingo Cards (Some rights reserved)

Desire path = Path developed by erosion caused by human footsteps

The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.

Paths of desire: lockdown has lent a new twist to the trails we leave behind
Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners

Flickr Group
Desire Paths is one of our favorite collaborative groups. Pics document desire paths around the world.

When cities lack the paths pedestrians need, people vote with their feet

Claire was photographing desire paths… the imprints of ‘foot anarchists’, individuals who had trodden their own routes into the landscape, regardless of the intentions of government, planners and engineers. A desire path could be a short cut through waste ground, across the corner of a civic garden or down an embankment. They were expressions of free will, ‘paths with a passion’, an alternative to the strictures of railings, fences and walls that turned individuals into powerless apathetic automatons. On desire paths you could break out, explore,’feel your way across the landscape’.
– Nick Crane ‘Two degrees west’ (1999)

The key to the desire path is not just that it’s a path which one person or a group has made but that it’s done against the will of some authority which would have us go another, rather less convenient, way. – George R, flickr.com/groups/desire_paths

Stray observations

  • Comments: Apparently, one newly-constructed college campus somewhere just took pictures of where everyone walked in snow, then in the spring just put the paths in those places.
  • For dogs, the entire world is a desire path.
  • In Dutch these are called elephant paths – olifantenpaadjes.


Desire Paths: When Urban Planning Fails

Embedded Tweets

Desire path


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.