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Rubber Sidewalks Bounce Concrete

Rubber sidewalks have been installed in over 90 cities, including Baltimore, MD. These sidewalks are made out of 100 percent recycled tire rubber and have numerous cost saving and environmental benefits. One of the biggest benefits of rubber sidewalks is that, unlike traditional sidewalks, they permit moisture to reach tree roots. This prevents the roots from growing toward the surface attempting to find water, breaking the concrete, and resulting in repair/replacement and perhaps even lawsuit costs.

Once perceived mainly as a safety surface for playgrounds, rubber sidewalks have developed into a means of preserving urban trees, reducing stormwater runoff, recycling tires, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

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Rubbersidewalks began installing the modular units in 2002, and its rubber sidewalk products now appear in cities across the country.

The original idea behind a rubber sidewalk was to achieve a flexible surface that would reduce cracking around tree roots. In turn, that would reduce the need to cut or drastically trim trees with overgrown roots. Over the course of several years, city workers noticed that the rubber surface seemed to slow the growth of roots while providing the tree with sufficient water and oxygen, helping to mitigate the problem of root overgrowth at the source. The modular installation system also enables workers to remove sections of sidewalk to inspect tree roots, without the need for pavement-breaking equipment that could damage a tree.

Concrete is made from cement, which is a significant source of greenhouse gasses. Worldwide, cement is estimated to account for about 5 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, with concrete accounting for about 8 percent overall. Though rubber surfaces do involve some greenhouse gas in the manufacturing process, there would seem to be a savings in emissions related to transportation, installation, maintenance, and urban street tree health.

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December 6, 2019, 1:12 pm PDT

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