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A sidewalk (also pavement, footway, and sometimes platform) is a path along the side of a road. A sidewalk may accommodate moderate changes in grade (height) and is normally separated from the vehicular section by a curb (British spelling: kerb), there may also be a strip of vegetation, grass or bushes or trees or a combination of these between the pedestrian section and the vehicular section (known as a parkway/tree lawn in the USA).
The professional civil engineering term in the United Kingdom is footway and the term footpath is usually only used for paths that are not associated with a highway; pavement, however, is the term most normally used in common language.
The term shared use footway is used when cyclists are able to use the same section of path as pedestrians and segregated footway where there is separate space allocated to different classes of user.
According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (third edition 1933) the term sidewalk was still in occasional use in the UK and pavement was also used for: 'a piece of paved work'; 'the superficial covering of a floor, yard, street etc' as well as for 'the paved part of a public thoroughfare, but now only the paved footway by the side of the street'. This older British English is therefore close to the current American English.
The term footpath is used for a pedestrian path that is not next to a road.
Platform is used chiefly in Indian English.
The state of the roads in British urban towns was a matter of considerable concern in the 1600s-1700s and a number of 'Paving Acts' (Acts of parliament) were passed although they were not always effective as was the case of the 1623 Act for Colchester.
While some assert that Arthur Wesley Hall and William Alexander McVay invented concrete sidewalks and partitions in St. Stephen, New Brunswick in 1924, concrete pavements from the 1860s onwards can be found in good repair all over the older districts of San Francisco, having survived the 1906 quake, and stamped with the name of the contractor and date of installation. When quantities of Portland cement were first imported to the United States in the 1880s, its principal use was in the construction of sidewalks. In the 19th century and early 20th century, sidewalks of wood were common in some locations. They may still be found at historic beach locations and in conservation areas to protect the land beneath and around, called boardwalks. Contemporary sidewalks are most often made of concrete (particularly in the United States and Canada), tarmac, asphalt, brick (particularly in Europe), stone, slab or (increasingly) rubber. Multi-use paths alongside roads are sometimes made of materials that are softer than concrete, such as asphalt.
In the United States, the most common type of sidewalk consists of a poured concrete ribbon with cross-lying strain relief grooves at intervals of ~1 m; this is intended to minimize visible damage from tectonic and temperature fluctuations, both of which can crack longer segments. However, freeze-thaw cycles (in cold-weather regions) and tree root growth can eventually result in damage which requires repair. Brick sidewalks are found in some urban areas, usually for aesthetic purposes. Brick sidewalk construction usually involves the usage of a mechanical vibrator to lock the bricks in place after they have been laid (and/or to prepare the soil before laying). Although this might also be done by other tools (as regular hammers and heavy rolls), a vibrator is often used to speed up the process.
In other countries, suburban pavements are most commonly used. This kind of approach (using pavements) is more economical and sometimes more environmentally-friendly, depending on what material is used (e.g. trass instead of energy intensive Portland cement concrete or petroleum-based materials as asphalt or tar-penetration macadam). In the United Kingdom the suburban pavements are most commonly constructed of tarmac, which is however not more environmentally-friendly. In urban or inner-city areas pavements are most commonly constructed of slabs, stone, or brick depending upon the surrounding street architecture and furniture.
Stone slabs called flagstones or flags are sometimes used where an attractive appearance is required, as in historic town centres. In other places, pre-cast concrete slabs (called paving slabs or, less correctly, paving stones) are used. These may be coloured or textured to resemble stone.
Effects of sidewalksEdit
Research commissioned for the Florida Department of Transportation, published in 2005, found that, in Florida, the Crash Reduction Factor (used to estimate the expected reduction of crashes during a given period) resulting from the installation of sidewalks averaged 74%. Research at the University of North Carolina for the U.S. Department of Transportation found that the presence or absence of a sidewalk and the speed limit are significant factors in the likelihood of a vehicle/pedestrian crash. Sidewalk presence had a risk ratio of 0.118, which means that the likelihood of a crash on a road with a paved sidewalk was 88.2 percent lower than one without a sidewalk. “This should not be interpreted to mean that installing sidewalks would necessarily reduce the likelihood of pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes by 88.2 percent in all situations. However, the presence of a sidewalk clearly has a strong beneficial effect of reducing the risk of a ‘walking along roadway’ pedestrian/motor vehicle crash.” The study does not count crashes that happen when walking across a roadway. The speed limit risk ratio was 1.116, which means that a 16.1-km/h (10-mi/h) increase in the limit yields a factor of (1.116)10 or 3.
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