Building a Better Sidewalk?

Environmental Access Extras

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A childhood rite of passage — scraped knees and elbows from falling on unforgiving pavement while roller-skating, playing tag or just rushing to catch the school bus — may become a thing of the past if a Southern California sidewalk manufacturer has its way.

Rubbersidewalks, Inc., manufactures modular sidewalks out of old, discarded tires. The company crumbles the tires and creates sidewalk segments out of the rubber crumbs, urethane resin binder and colorant. The resulting segments weigh 10.8 lbs. per square foot and have a weight capacity of 3,000 lbs. per square inch.

Rubbersidewalks' first goal, the company says, was to use its segments to replace pieces of concrete sidewalks that had been torn up by tree roots and were hazardous to pedestrians. But the company also says its sidewalks are more resistant than concrete to extreme heat, bright sunlight, freezing temperatures and salt.

And there's the anti-ouch factor: Rubbersidewalks are more forgiving than concrete when people fall.

"You can't even break a bottle on this product," says Rubbersidewalks President/CEO Lindsay Smith. "If somebody were to fall, they wouldn't be hurt, they wouldn't break their bones. That's a huge advantage."

For people who use mobility equipment — from canes to rollators to wheelchairs — Rubbersidewalks also offers the advantage of more consistent surfaces, since the rubber won't crack to create jagged edges and sudden surface transitions. The rubber even dampens the noise level of users, both on foot and using wheeled vehicles.

Smith says Rubbersidewalks comes in both municipal and residential versions, in sidewalk segments, brick tiles, garden stepping stones, cobblestones and other designs for use in a variety of pathways and slip hazard areas. While most Rubbersidewalks buyers to date have been cities and such, Smith says, "We'll sell to anyone who needs the product. We try to work with everybody."

If you're interested in making your business more accessible or think you might like to offer Rubbersidewalks products to your existing customer base, send an e-mail to info@rubbersidewalks.com, call (310) 515-5814 or visit www.rubbersidewalks.com for more information.

This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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