Rubber Sidewalks Give Commuters Comfort and Safety
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 12:11 PM
Just ask any woman commuter. Stilettos and concrete are murder on your feet.
Now imagine walking on downtown sidewalks that bounce as you step on them.
Pedestrians in 65 cities – including Seattle, Chicago, and Baltimore, are testing these shock-absorbing rubber sidewalks. The photo above is Pratt Street in Baltimore, Md., which installed 2,000 square feet of rubberized sidewalks last October.
“Texas has yet to come on board, but we look forward to them coming on board,” said Lindsay Smith, owner of Rubbersidewalks Inc. in Gardena, Calif. “And we think Houston will be the first.”
Smith added that coincidentally, someone from the Houston Parks and Recreation Department inquired about rubberized sidewalks the same day I called.
In 2006, the company received 30 formal requests for quotes, translating into $950,000 in potential sales and close to 90,000 potential square feet of rubberized sidewalk, said Dan Joyce, vice president of marketing at Rubbersidewalks.
Interested Texas parties include developers, Lee College in Baytown, San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Memorial Club Townhouses Association Inc., and the City of Hunters Creek Village, added Joyce. The American Red Cross chapter in Orange, Tx., has a test sidewalk of 950 square feet on its property.
Made from recyclable tires, rubberized sidewalks are a modular, interlocking system that can be used to replace broken concrete around tree roots.
“It’s the only system that allows a city to manage its sidewalks,” said Smith. “Concrete cannot be managed – it survives or breaks, and when it breaks, it becomes very expensive and very dangerous. Cities are tired of replacing broken concrete and tired of people getting hurt on broken sidewalks.”
The spongy texture is also easy on aging joints and knees – great for commuters who walk to bus or train stops and stand and wait. “It’s infinitely safer and more comfortable to walk on…and stand on,” said Smith.
Besides the comfort factor, consider the environmental pluses: Although the initial cost is one-third more than concrete, every 5 feet of rubber pavers keeps five tires out of landfills. Four-hundred square feet of rubberized sidewalk saves more than two tons of waste tire rubber from clogging our landfills.
And since the material is porous, rainwater seeps into the ground, reducing runoff in our storm sewers. For Houstonians who weathered Tropical Storm Allison and Hurricane Rita, that aspect makes rubber sidewalks even more comforting.
On another note:
The Q card is coming. Read Rad Sallee’s story published yesterday in The Houston Chronicle. I’ll post more on this tomorrow.
Several of you made some great suggestions about downloading bus schedules on an iPod and other MP3 devices or Palm Pilots. I’ll be talking to our IT department on this and will get back to you shortly.
And I’m researching some of the questions about security cameras in the Park and Ride lots. Stay tuned.