I have been a fan of rubber footpaths since I first heard of them. The benefits of installing them are huge & I wish they were used as the norm. To keep it simple, I have point-formed a rundown of the main points & benefits of rubber footpaths –

  • Rubber footpaths are made from recycled tyres making them environmentally sustainable as the reuse of tyres stops millions going into landfill or being burnt & polluting the atmosphere.  Some products also include low-density polyethylene plastic, again diverting from landfill.
  • The downside is that rubber footpaths are more expensive than laying concrete. However, they are modular in design allowing them to be lifted in segments & repaired or the segment replaced if they become overly damaged.
  • Rubber footpaths are expected to last 15-plus years, whereas concrete is graded at 5-years. Unlike concrete, they will not crack & ruin because of tree roots. In the US 80% of the damage to sidewalks is caused by tree roots.   I couldn’t find statistics for Australia, but it’s likely to be similar, though I think the US has overall many more street trees than we do which may raise the percentage of damage.
  • Rubber footpaths are flexible & interlocking so they will undulate over any tree roots on the surface. They have a channel design underneath that facilitates root growth & assists with water drainage.
  • They are permeable allowing both air & water to travel through them.  This helps immensely with the health & longevity of the street tree & apparently, the street tree will grow less surface roots because they no longer need to.
  • Rubber footpaths retain moisture under the ground, which is also good for street trees.
  • Because rubber footpaths are permeable they significantly reduce stormwater runoff by allowing 100% of the water to enter the ground where it falls resulting in less ground water pollution entering rivers & oceans.
  • Permeability means that puddles don’t form, lessening the chance of accidents.
  • Any falls by people are likely to be less severe as the rubber is much softer than concrete. They don’t create trip hazards like concrete footpaths do.
  • Apparently, rubber footpaths are good to walk on & less likely to cause back, heel & joint problems because they are softer than concrete.
  • They are said to last well with all weather conditions & are not damaged by high heels or bikes, skates & the like.
  • Rubber footpaths come in both light & dark colours & are solar reflective. They don’t lose their colour & many years later look as good as when they were laid. That is unless they are covered in discarded chewing gum.
  • They lower the Heat Island Effect by reflecting heat & by cooling down 25% faster than concrete.
  • Although rubber footpaths are not recommended for anything other than occasional vehicular traffic, they can tolerate 18,143.695 metric tons without breaking, cracking or deforming. This means they will be able to survive traffic over footpaths with vehicles entering & exiting homes.
  • Rubber footpaths can be used over internal concrete flooring & as coverage on flat roofs or for courtyards, garages & garden paths.

I doubt this kind of footpath will be used for a while in Marrickville LGA because concrete is cheap & easy.  However, I do believe that, as the climate gets hotter, this kind of change will become the norm across Australia.

For further reading – www.rubbersidewalks.com/

Christmas beetle found sunning itself on our washing