Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Desire Lines

**Retrieved from Friendster blog**

Desire Lines

I walk to work every morning, and I pretty much take the same route--one that's not necessarily the quickest, but the one that I feel is the prettiest, most calming and fulfilling, while at the same time being fairly direct. This is my route: I walk down 73rd and/or 72nd street (depending on the lights) all the way to the park, cut across past Summer Stage to the mall (my favorite part of Central Park), walk down the mall, then down past the Dairy, and to the right of Wollman Rink. I wind around and down so I walk by The Pond, and then up the stairs that spit me out onto 6th Avenue.

Right near Wollman Rink there's this rocky dirt path down a hill that's been worn by pedestrians making a more direct route to the cement path below, and depending on what shoes I'm wearing, I'll take that path. I remember learning a term years ago for these kinds of paths--ones that have not been planned by the urban planner or whoever plans these kind of things, but ones worn by pedestrian will. We had many of these paths at UC Berkeley, and I know they're found everywhere. There was a huge one on the Berkeley campus that was pretty ridiculous--it was right near the Campanile, and it was obviously the most direct path to any destination, and when you're hurrying to get to another building in time for class, you don't want to step around for the sake of the grass. But the university was very adamant about trying to save the grass, prevent the path, putting up barriers, planting new grass. I didn't get it. I wonder if it's still there.

But I digress, back to the term for these type of paths--for the longest time I couldn't remember the term, and every morning I would wonder what it was called and be determined to google it when I got to work, only to forget. So I'm writing this now because I finally remembered to google--and what I came up with wasn't what I thought I remembered they were called, but I really liked the term anyway: "desire lines." This was how they were described in one blog: "Called 'desire lines,' these trails demonstrate how a landscape's users choose to move, which is often not on the paved paths. A smart landscape designer will let wanderers create paths through use, and then pave the emerging walkways, ensuring optimal utility."

I could go on and get all deep and philosophical about people's desire lines and all that, but perhaps I'll save that for another time (yeah, right). I'll just close by saying that it's sad that these desire lines are so often fought against, and so rarely made into "real" (paved) paths. But it's kinda nice that they exist at all.*

*cue corny music.

On a personal note, London was great (Yay, Sara and Neil are married!)! I drove a mixed-up car on the wrong side of the street, sang Karaoke, ate fish and chips, smoked too many cigarettes just because you can smoke inside, took a 3 am rickshaw ride in the cold and rain and saw the sights, rode the London Eye, drank beer in many a pub, had a banana split at Harrod's, walked all over Hyde Park, attended a traditional English wedding with lots of hats, saw Canterbury Cathedral, etc. etc. etc.

My next big trip is in October, out to SF for Denise and Roy's wedding.

Oh, and I finally got my bike up and running (rode on the streets of NYC for the first time last night!), and am riding in the NYC Century Bike Tour on Sunday. Doing the 35 mile route. We'll see how that goes. Before last night's ride of 3 avenues and 6 streets, the last time I rode was maybe 4 years ago. I may be in pain on Monday.

Over and out.