23 votes

Desire paths: the illicit trails that defy the urban planners

22 comments

  1. [12]
    Archimedes
    Link
    In case anyone isn't aware, there is an entire subreddit dedicated to this: https://www.reddit.com/r/DesirePaths/

    In case anyone isn't aware, there is an entire subreddit dedicated to this:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/DesirePaths/

    13 votes
    1. [9]
      Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      Why are you cross-promoting Reddit here on Tildes?

      Why are you cross-promoting Reddit here on Tildes?

      1. cfabbro
        Link Parent
        Why does it matter? DesirePaths is likely never going to be a group here since it's primarily image based, so there is absolutely no harm in pointing people to it if they're interested in the...

        Why does it matter? DesirePaths is likely never going to be a group here since it's primarily image based, so there is absolutely no harm in pointing people to it if they're interested in the subject matter. And even if there is a similar community here on Tildes, who cares? Tildes is a site to share and discuss interesting things, generally those found on the internet. And just because that interesting thing is on a competitor to this site doesn't mean it shouldn't be linked to or discussed.

        17 votes
      2. [7]
        Archimedes
        Link Parent
        Because it was relevant to the topic? Is reddit banned here or something?

        Because it was relevant to the topic? Is reddit banned here or something?

        9 votes
        1. cfabbro
          Link Parent
          No, it's not. And AFAIK never will be, either. So you're absolutely free to mention reddit, link to interesting things on reddit, etc.

          No, it's not. And AFAIK never will be, either. So you're absolutely free to mention reddit, link to interesting things on reddit, etc.

          5 votes
        2. [5]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          No, Reddit's not banned. But it's counter-productive to the goal of building up Tildes to direct people elsewhere to discuss topics. If people want to discuss desire paths (or most other topics),...

          No, Reddit's not banned. But it's counter-productive to the goal of building up Tildes to direct people elsewhere to discuss topics. If people want to discuss desire paths (or most other topics), they can do it here.

          Paging @cfabbro.

          1. [3]
            cfabbro
            Link Parent
            Is not part of "discussing" desire paths on Tildes mentioning there is a community on reddit dedicated to exactly that topic? How is mentioning that "counterproductive" at all? If anything, I...

            Is not part of "discussing" desire paths on Tildes mentioning there is a community on reddit dedicated to exactly that topic? How is mentioning that "counterproductive" at all? If anything, I think discouraging or trying to prevent people from mentioning reddit and the communities there is the actual counterproductive effort.

            IMO @Archimedes did absolutely nothing wrong.

            12 votes
            1. [2]
              Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              By potentially siphoning off discussion which could happen on Tildes, and thereby detracting from Tildes' development. Of course we're going to mention Reddit. A lot of people here came from...

              How is mentioning that "counterproductive" at all?

              By potentially siphoning off discussion which could happen on Tildes, and thereby detracting from Tildes' development.

              Of course we're going to mention Reddit. A lot of people here came from Reddit (such as yours truly, for instance). But, if we're going to name-drop relevant subreddits every time a subject comes up here on Tildes, that's basically implying that Reddit is a more suitable venue for discussing that subject.

              In fact, I used to regularly recommend this tactic to moderators of small subreddits as a way to promote their subreddits: "If you see someone mention Topic X somewhere else on Reddit, write a comment to that person letting them know they can learn more about Topic X in your subreddit /r/TopicX. It's a low-key organic way of promoting your subreddit, without intrusively spamming it all over the place."

              I'm not saying name-dropping subreddits is wrong, as such, but that doesn't mean we should be encouraging it, either.

              1 vote
              1. cfabbro
                Link Parent
                If reddit has a community where users can find further information and discussion on a specific topic then why not encourage users mentioning them? If Tildes can't stand on its own merits and have...

                If reddit has a community where users can find further information and discussion on a specific topic then why not encourage users mentioning them? If Tildes can't stand on its own merits and have people return here of their own free will even after being pointed elsewhere for more content on a particular topic, then it's not going to work, IMO. And more than that, part of the reason I really dislike the direction reddit is heading in is because of their focus on "user retention" achieved in large part through locking people on to the platform through embedded players and image/video hosting, and I would rather not see that same sort of mentality develop on Tildes.

                14 votes
          2. Archimedes
            Link Parent
            It's an image based rather than discussion based group, so I don't think it's likely to siphon off discussion on here.

            It's an image based rather than discussion based group, so I don't think it's likely to siphon off discussion on here.

            4 votes
  2. [8]
    reese
    Link
    A manager at a previous employer once called me and some other coworkers in for a meeting. He showed us aerial photographs of our parking lot. The "desire paths" were marked on the photographs,...

    A manager at a previous employer once called me and some other coworkers in for a meeting. He showed us aerial photographs of our parking lot. The "desire paths" were marked on the photographs, and my manager told us we were not to use those paths. Why, they caused undue liability to the company. Naturally, because I'm a fucking moron, I went on a spiel about how the company should just consider turning those paths into crosswalks by using this thing called paint.

    My annual raise did not surpass inflation that year.

    Still, the article gives me hope that civil planners and architects are increasingly minding "user" needs, rather than dictating thou shall walk here. That's the crux of industrial design and human-computer interaction. Telling the users what they need is generally the wrong way to go about things (see: Reddit).

    7 votes
    1. [7]
      nacho
      Link Parent
      See, good planning could be a huge deal for health across all of society. Planning so walking, biking, taking stairs rather than elevators. This is a huge deal for society. Every desire path is a...

      See, good planning could be a huge deal for health across all of society.

      Planning so walking, biking, taking stairs rather than elevators. This is a huge deal for society.

      Every desire path is a failure of urban planning. Every time I can't find the stairs so I end up taking an elevator is a failure of an architect.

      In societies where inaction and obesity are huge killers, the stakes couldn't be higher.

      7 votes
      1. [3]
        Makkiux
        Link Parent
        Municipal planner in the U.S. here. I don't think any planner worth their salt would disagree with you in that non-motor-oriented development is important. However, almost any form of development...

        Municipal planner in the U.S. here. I don't think any planner worth their salt would disagree with you in that non-motor-oriented development is important. However, almost any form of development like this is going to be met with some form of NIMBYism and/or lack of interest from political bodies who approve anything municipal/county planners want to do. At least in the U.S, people say they want this type of development but vote against it when they learn that it costs money. Developers are also not incentivized to engage in this sort of development because of the cost and relatively low demand.

        Most planners understand and preach the importance of best-practice and contemporary academic ideals in planning. However, there's a very strong disconnect between what's best and what's demanded. We can draft beautiful plans and policies all day, but whether or not they are enacted and paid for is a completely different story. Ultimately, it is a macro-scale political problem seen in almost every field in the U.S, about what the general public chooses to prioritize.

        8 votes
        1. [2]
          nacho
          Link Parent
          See, this is why nationalized health care is such an important principle. Even before costs, effectiveness, distribution of treatment and the like come into the picture: When your government also...

          See, this is why nationalized health care is such an important principle. Even before costs, effectiveness, distribution of treatment and the like come into the picture:

          When your government also pays the bills for citizen health, that's when people running the government have to factor in citizen health in all their projects.

          That's when you choose either to pay more for healthcare or more for healthy planning of society.

          (the exact same argument goes for pollution and several other issues)

          4 votes
          1. Makkiux
            Link Parent
            Absolutely agree. I think - like with health care - people end up voting against democratic principles that are in their best interest. And it's not their fault because there are interests...

            Absolutely agree. I think - like with health care - people end up voting against democratic principles that are in their best interest. And it's not their fault because there are interests spinning it as a negative.

            Though, pedestrian oriented development is interesting. On one hand, it's a benign problem for people in power compared to nationalized health care. Sure, it may eat into private property rights a little, but not enough for people to lose massive amounts of money. Compare this with health care which is being fought against tooth-and-nail by interests ranging from pharma companies to insurance companies. However, I think pedestrian oriented development is a more difficult ideal to execute on for a number of reasons largely stemming from the United States unique geography/layout and our sunk costs into personal car infrastructure. It would require a lot of trial and error. The logistics for switching to a national health care system have been worked out and proven in other countries.

            6 votes
      2. reese
        Link Parent
        Exactly. If I physically cannot take a shortcut, then I won't. For the sake of wellness, the design needs to, at the very least, encourage the "right" thing to do, which is often the "harder"...

        Exactly. If I physically cannot take a shortcut, then I won't. For the sake of wellness, the design needs to, at the very least, encourage the "right" thing to do, which is often the "harder" thing.

        I'm reading a book called Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, which explains how the frontal cortex plays a major role in making the "right" decisions; the decisions that far displace in time the perceived reward for taking an action, or set of actions. In environments where the cortex is already being stressed, like work, it takes a fair amount of willpower to prevent oneself from choking to death on fries at McDonalds. Since people spend 1/3 of their adult life at work, I would say optimizing wellness planning at work locations should be a number one priority. But, employers must be incentivized for this.

        4 votes
      3. nsz
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I'm consistently amazed at how terrible stare cases are in building, sometimes behind fire doors, your not even sure your allowed to open, then it's just grim blank walls. Their is just so...

        Yeah, I'm consistently amazed at how terrible stare cases are in building, sometimes behind fire doors, your not even sure your allowed to open, then it's just grim blank walls. Their is just so much potential to make them great. I get that their is fire safety regulation, but that can be worked around – the City of Perth Library comes to mind, the stares are an awesome part of the design, and just kind of invite you to take them.

        3 votes
      4. roboticide
        Link Parent
        Ahhh wait, hold on. Architects don't about stairs because they want people to be fat, they don't use stairs because they're not friendly or inclusive to disabled people. They're required to have...

        Ahhh wait, hold on. Architects don't about stairs because they want people to be fat, they don't use stairs because they're not friendly or inclusive to disabled people. They're required to have both stairs and elevators, and it's often seen as (and often is) redundant to have both in one central location. It might not be up to fire code to have one central shared elevator/stair core, and it may have been too expensive to have been to expensive to have a separate one somewhere else. Or the customer just didn't want it. As much as architecture revolves around the ideal of spaces serving the user, there are also many more tedious realities, and your mild inconvenience is not necessarily the failing of the architect.

  3. Quack
    Link
    Always called these goat paths growing up. Interesting to see how they affect planning.

    Always called these goat paths growing up. Interesting to see how they affect planning.

    2 votes
  4. RapidEyeMovement
    Link
    The answer to this is already being done, it is even mentioned one of the best ways to do it in the Article Basically allow pedestrians to make Desire Paths and then path those.

    The answer to this is already being done, it is even mentioned one of the best ways to do it in the Article

    Michigan State University didn’t put in pavements when new buildings were created. Instead, it waited for students to create their own paths.

    Basically allow pedestrians to make Desire Paths and then path those.

    1 vote