Desire Paths and Intention Lines

They are all over the city.  Everywhere there is a footpath across an open space, everywhere there are steps next to a slope, everywhere there is a gap in a fence or a wall or a hedge, there is a desire path.  These unofficial shortcuts, unsigned, unplanned, untarmacked are both a bane and blessing to city planners.  They betray the secrets of pedestrians, revealing with dead grass and trampled plants, how we react to our environment, where we want to go not where we are told to go.

These intention lines are most often equated with the path of least resistance.  They cut corners, cross junctions not at the lights but next to the bus stop.  By their very nature they differ from the planned route, they rebel against the rules.

But these are strange times and what we desire is no longer the quickest way from A to B.  Unable to visit friends and family, unable to go to the office, the gym or the pub, our journeys are slowing.  The time outdoors is as important as the destination.  But there is a problem, everybody is doing the same.  In the city there are only so many outdoor spaces, only so many paths and we have been told repeatedly, and forcefully, in messages sculpted by government psychologists, that we must keep apart.  And so a new form of intention line is appearing in the parched parks, one that shadows the official route but a few metres away, an eroded echo allowing us to go walking together, but apart.



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