Bouncing a new idea where rubber hits the road - Metro US

Bouncing a new idea where rubber hits the road

It’s odd how frequently two completely unrelated things come together to create a usable topic when I am about to write this column. That’s exactly what happened this week.

The first thing happened when I was wandering around the garden area of my local big box home improvement store. As I was looking at rain barrels, grass seed and cedar chips, I came across some rubber tiles that can be used outside. To my delight, I found out they were produced using recycled tires and were, wonder of wonders, made right here in Canada.

These 18-inch by 18-inch tiles were moulded to mimic paving stones and came in either brown or grey. When I picked one up, I was surprised by how heavy it was, a couple of pounds at least. They are about three-quarters of an inch thick so they aren’t going to wear out quickly, and they are unlikely to fade in the sun. I decided they would make a great covering for my front steps.

As I was walking to work the day after I installed my new tiles, I noticed how badly our city’s sidewalks are cracked and how the paving stones we use here always need to be replaced or reset because of frost heaves. Those two things gave me the idea for this column.

It would be interesting to see how well these tiles worked if they were glued down over some of the sidewalks in the downtown core. Because they are rubber, they are softer to walk on than plain concrete. Because they are individual tiles, if one needed to be replaced, it could be done quickly and cheaply. Shovelling snow off them should not be an issue because most of the areas in the downtown are brushed clean of snow rather than shovelled.

These tiles aren’t cheap, at about $10 each, but neither is pouring and maintaining concrete. But the issue is about more than cost. Producing concrete has a major environmental impact.

The less we use the better. Alberta also has a significant tire recycling program and using these tiles would help make it more viable as an enterprise.

Rubber sidewalks would also show Edmontonians and visitors alike that this city is truly environmentally conscious and it is doing everything it can to demonstrate its commitment toward being a sustainable city.

Terence Harding is a corporate communicator. He’s a keen observer of all things Edmonton; edmontonletters@metronews.ca.

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