The Benefits of Rubber Sidewalks
Rubber sidewalks are made from recycled rubber tires and consist of interlocking modules of rubber pavement. They have been attracting a lot of attention in cities around the country lately due to their many benefits, which include:
Rubber sidewalks are easy to maintain.
The modules are easily lifted for maintenance and can be made to resemble asphalt, granite, or adobe. They are long lasting and effective even in very cold climates with frequent freeze-thaw cycles.
Rubber sidewalks reduce trips and falls from damaged pavement.
Rubber sidewalks were originally developed in an attempt to reduce cracking and buckling of sidewalks due to tree roots. Damage from tree roots creates an uneven surface that is very dangerous, especially to young children and the elderly.
Rubber sidewalks bend with the roots, preventing cracks and greatly reducing buckling. In severe cases, the modular rubber pavers can simply be lifted up and re-graded without having to replace them completely. Reducing the number and severity of trips and falls also lowers litigation costs for cities.
Rubber sidewalks reduce slips and falls from ice.
Rubber sidewalks are water-pervious, which allows snow and ice to sink through the pavement into the soil as it melts, preventing dangerous freeze-thaw cycles and reducing the amount of dangerous ice build-up on sidewalks in wintertime.
Rubber sidewalks save trees and improve tree health.
Trees are often
cut down when they cause sidewalks to buckle or crack, so rubber
sidewalks allow more urban trees to be preserved, improving local air
quality, reducing the urban heat island effect, and adding beauty to
Because water passes through rubber sidewalks into the soil instead of washing off into stormwater systems, rubber sidewalks also improve overall tree health and encourages trees to grow less aggressive roots, further reducing the likelihood of sidewalk buckling and other damage.
Rubber sidewalks reduce stormwater runoff.
Stormwater runoff is the single biggest contributor to surface and groundwater pollution in the world. In fact, an estimated 70% of all water pollution is caused by stormwater running off asphalt, agricultural fields, roofs, and other surfaces.
Like other types of permeable pavement, rubber sidewalks allow water to pass through the pavement into the soil, instead of running off into stormwater systems or pooling in depressions. In addition to reducing water pollution, this also replenishes underground aquifers, improves the health of nearby plants, and reduces the possibility of flooding.
Rubber sidewalks offer a more comfortable running surface.
Joggers may be interested to learn that rubber sidewalks are more shock absorbent and easier on the joints than concrete, while bikers and parents of young children will appreciate the softer landing after a fall. (Kids will also be relieved to learn that sidewalk chalk works as well on rubber sidewalks as concrete ones.)
Rubber sidewalks are made from recycled materials.
Every square foot of rubber sidewalk is made of one recycled tire. This reduces space taken up by discarded tires in landfills (California alone discards 408 million pounds of passenger tires alone) and reuses resources in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Disadvantages of Rubber Sidewalks
The primary disadvantage of rubber sidewalks is the higher price tag. However, this may be offset by the longer life of the pavers and lower litigation costs. The price is also expected to be reduced after more manufacturing facilities are opened. Currently a major factor in the higher price is the cost of transporting the pavers from the main manufacturing facility in California.
Rubber sidewalks are an extraordinarily promising new technology that offer many benefits both for city governments and residents.