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Recycled Rubber Sidewalks Around the 100K Site

by Chad Ludeman on July 25, 2008 · 17 comments

in Design,landscaping

A lot of the sidewalk around the 100K House lots is badly damaged and broken up. While it’s not required, we had planned to replace the damaged sections and plant as many trees as possible while we were at it. A couple months ago I looked into green alternatives to standard concrete sidewalks and found two main options – Pervious Concrete and Recycled Rubber Sidewalks.

Pervious Concrete Image

While both are pretty cool products, I wanted to try and use something that the city of Philadelphia was already considering so I place a quick call to a contact at our local CDC,, and they told me that there were rumors of rubber sidewalks and tree barriers being implemented in the city in the near future. As great as pervious concrete’s tagline is, after a bit of research I also sided with the city on rubber sidewalks for a number of reasons.

Why Recycled Rubber Sidewalks Make Sense

First, rubber sidewalk material is made entirely of recycled tires which we seem to have plenty of in our country. The material is more expensive than concrete by about 30% or so, but it lasts three times longer and does not have the carbon footprint that the production of concrete is notorious for.

Another big selling point for rubber sidewalks is the fact that they are much kinder to tree roots that are planted in or near sidewalks. The rubber tiles that often make up the sidewalk can also be removed to trim roots and service any utility lines running beneath them. Urban trees are often cut down after they reach maturity due to the fact that they have invaded the concrete sidewalks around them and with rubber, we can save most if not all of these trees from an early demise.

Recycled Rubber Sidewalk Image

Rubber also makes a much friendlier surface to walk and play on, and it deadens sound as well. Lastly, it also reduces the heat island effect by staying much cooler than concrete in the sun.

OK, back to our use of rubber sidewalks. After a bit of research, I found that even though many in Philly were pushing for the use of rubber sidewalks, not test cases had been done that I could find. The corner that we are building on is a relatively high foot traffic area in between neighborhood so why not make it a case study for the city? We had the opportunity to meet with one of Philadelphia’s Councilmen this week, James Kenney, and it turns out he has been pushing for. It turns out that Kenney also has a soft spot for the environment and is also pushing for green roof incentives and converting Philly’s fleet of vehicles to hybrids. He was excited about the possibility of a test case of rubber sidewalks in Philly and gave us the contact to a local material vendor that could help us out with a quote. We contacted them today and see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to use this material over traditional concrete. Should be fun.

For more on both pervious concrete and rubber sidewalks, check out the links below:

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Richard Price July 25, 2008 at 12:38 pm

As the regional sales manager for Rubbersidewalks I am available to give presentations to interested parties at any time. 800-990-9106

2 chad July 25, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Normally I don’t approve self-promoting comments only, but in the interest of furthering rubber sidewalks in the area…

Maybe Richard can add further educational info on the technology that I may have missed?

One tidbit I just recalled that I wanted to include in the article was Councilman’s Kenney vision for creating green jobs with the city’s adoption of rubber sidewalks. The city is overrun with used tires as most shops and individuals have no good place to easily take them to or anyone to pick them up from them. We could be taking used tires from Philly, producing them into rubber sidewalks in a factory in Philly and replacing worn and broken sidewalks in Philly with the new product. Local, recycled, green jobs. What could be better?

3 brian July 25, 2008 at 2:22 pm

good to see youre thinking outside of the house as well. What are you planning to do with the water that falls on the house and/or the site? Simple discharge to the sewer? It could be used…

4 tracy July 25, 2008 at 2:39 pm

this is a great post. reaching out to a councilman and working with the city to test case something like this. man, that’s the way to work things. the more we can have private sector working with public sector, the better. bravo to you for reaching out to Councilman Kenney.

5 chad July 25, 2008 at 2:44 pm

Brian – I don’t think I’ve posted in detail on this yet, but we are planning to have a rainwater reclamation system for watering the backyard gardens. It’s on the list on our summary page.

6 Richard Price July 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm

The question of whether the sidewalks are porous or not has been asked. The sidewalk material itself is nor permeable. The porosity occurs at the seams between the tiles (2′X2.5′), .54″/hour. Concret offers .00″/hour, asphalt provides .20″/hour.

7 Lindsay Smith July 25, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Dear Philadelphians,
We look forward to bringing Rubbersidewalks to your wonderful city. Our correct website is (plural Rubbersidewalks). Please visit our website to learn more about how Rubbersidewalks modular system will save your trees and provide safety, and divert waste tires.
Our local representative, Richard Price, is available at 800 990 9106 and he can tell you about all our interlocking modular environmentally friendly sidewalk systems.
Best wishes, Lindsay Smith

8 ron July 25, 2008 at 4:37 pm

“Urban trees are often cut down after they reach maturity due to the fact that they have invaded the concrete sidewalks around them and with rubber, we can save most if not all of these trees from an early demise.”

well, yeah. but the real problem is planting the trees in a way too small tree pit in the first place and they die way before they come close to reaching maturity. sidewalks arent the problem, dumbass tree planting specs are.

google “james urban” to learn more about urban street tree planting done right.

9 Rob July 28, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I love the idea of a recycled rubber sidewalk! And if you could pilot this for philly that would be even better. What about driving on this stuff? Can it handle automobiles?

10 Richard Price July 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Yes, you can drive over the sidewalk, in some cases they have used the product on fire house drives. It is impervious to salt and therefore the fire department can wash the salt off of their vehicles on the drive.

11 RealityCheck August 3, 2008 at 6:14 pm

I think you need to do more research on rubber sidewalks and burns on the feet. Rubber does not stay cooler than concrete and even on 85 degree days can cause children or adults with bare feet to experience 3rd degree burns.

It is also *not* pervious. You have an ad for pervious concrete right on the page. Use that.

12 person January 9, 2009 at 9:32 am

i think this is a very good and exciting idea. i am trying to get my community to add in rubber sidewalks because it is so hard to get around. I think it would be awesom

13 Dan Joyce January 9, 2009 at 1:31 pm

This is a great web site and we appreciate the conversation about our products. I want to add and clarify some information on our products. First our product is pervious through the seams and qualifies as a pervious pavement. Our standard product, rubbersidewalks is 2.2″ of rain per hour. Our newest product, Terrewalks is 1.1″ of rain per hour. Regarding the surface heat of rubber products. All product will heat up including concrete and asphalt. Most people compare our products to pour in place products that are used in playgrounds. This is a different type of product and uses more black colorant. It heats up quicker than our products which are a light gray. Also, we just created a new product called TerreCool which has an property in the product that is 5 degree cooler than concrete. This product will be available in 2009 for sidewalks and cool roofs.

Dan Joyce
Rubbersidewalks, inc.

14 chad January 9, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Thanks Dan. Any talk of a production facility on the East Coast soon? The shipping from CA makes rubber sidewalks environmentally and cost prohibitive over here…

15 Dan Joyce January 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Our Lockport, NY facility has been online for over a year. Shipping cost is usually .50 per sf on the east coast depending on the distance.

Regarding shipping from CA, shipping rates are very low right now and we have standard truck shipping to the east coast every month. Cost is about 1.00 pr sf with min. orders.

We also using rail which is cheaper and better for the environment.

16 Jennifer Lampert March 24, 2010 at 8:58 am

Hi Chad,
I just closed on a 3 family house in Weehawken NJ. I have decided to work towards Leed certifying the property. I can’t afford to do it all at once and am of course educating myself in the process. As I have to make repairs to the property I am making green decisions. Next repair (asap) 136 ft of sidewalk needs to be repaired. I stumbled upon Rubbersidewalks after searching sustainable sidewalks. I plan on contacting Rubbersidewalks but want to know what you ended up doing. Did you go with it? Did you have to ship from CA? Any info you may have would be great.

17 Chad Ludeman March 25, 2010 at 7:16 am

We did not end up going with them due to price. The material alone is higher than finished concrete and then you need a trained crew to install. They will ship from CA, but I think there may be an east coast plant now also. Good luck!

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