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A great phenomenon of human behaviour: taking desire paths to cut corners. They make well travelled routes just that little bit shorter. There is now a photo book about these shortcuts called elephant paths (“Olifantenpaadjes” in Dutch).

Screenshot taken from

Click to watch the presentation of the book on desire lines in “De Wereld Draait Door” (in Dutch).

The dirt paths go against the paved roads designed by city planners. Feeling disrespected, they are often blocked by fences, although some municipalities show acceptance by paving them over. There is a special Flickr page that keeps track of examples.

Tom Hendriks, traffic expert, has graduated on the subject and discovered that desire paths are more frequent where destinations are in sight. Hence the larger concentration of the paths near train stations, offices and hospitals.

Tweets (Dutch and English)