Concrete alternatives could create safer and crag-free sidewalks.
We live in a time of innovation and change, yet it may be suggested that we have grown complacent in our general acceptance of concrete: a product whose literal cracking creates both inconveniences and rising maintenance costs for pedestrians, consumers, and communities alike. Tree roots create jagged cracks in the sidewalk, and weather extremes lead to potholes that are almost never filled on time. As a result, a new rubber tile market has emerged and with it, a new and creative prospect for the future of municipal walkways.Though we hardly give a second thought to the ground we tread on a daily basis, there are companies presently at work whose sole focus is trying to provide a viable alternative to the concrete under our feet. Despite concrete’s reign as the preeminent construction material for sidewalks, companies that manufacture rubber tiles— such as Terrecon and Pavegen— are looking for a piece of concrete’s market share.
Although Terrecon and Pavegen share some similarities in that they both produce rubber tiles with 100% recycled rubber and offer an option outside of the industry standard, the two companies are very different.Terrecon’s approach to making its product tends to stem from a perspective that embraces utility, function, and comfort.There is a suggestion that a pedestrian will no longer have to endure the inconveniences and potential harm that may arise when walking on cracked concrete; moreover, Terrecon concludes that their product even has the potential to transform and “elevate the entire pedestrian experience.” With such bold claims and a sincere belief in its particular brand, it is no wonder Terrecon has seen its business grow by having its rubber tiles installed in more than 200 North American cities.
Like Terrecon, Pavegen has also seen its rubber tiles being incorporated into walkways and sidewalks, although the company is currently focusing on the UK and France.However, the UK based company’s approach to manufacturing rubber tiles is altogether different than its North American counterpart.Where Terrecon embraces a more general utilitarian methodology, Pavegen presents a product specifically designed for technological functionality.Each of Pavegen’s rubber tiles are designed to “convert the wasted kinetic energy from footsteps into renewable energy.”With this, Pavegen claims the possibilities for technological innovation are limitless in regards to its rubber tiles.The company suggests its product can provide a variety of services that will turn ordinary cities into “smart cities” by offering energy for street lighting, advertising displays, and wireless communication.
Though we may not see a revolution against sidewalk concrete any time soon, it is, nonetheless, promising that rubber tile has emerged as a potentially legitimate alternative to concrete for the future.