Footpaths and Grass Berms

Over the years there has been a lot of discussion about the position of footpaths in relation to the kerb and the grass berm.  An associated issue is the positioning of underground services: water, telephone and electricity.  The latter are usually placed near the property frontages.

Placing the footpath beside the kerb like this has these advantages:

  • The path is not over the underground services, making repairs to those services easier.
  • Overhanging trees and shrubs from properties are less likely to obstruct pedestrians.
  • Passengers getting out of cars alight on to the footpath, not grass (which may be wet).

However, there are disadvantages too.

  • The driveway crossings are deep, making the footpath hazardous for mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
  • Although this photo shows street trees, there is often no room for street trees to be planted because of the underground services.
  • There is a common view that that this arrangement is less aestheically pleasing the photo below.

In this street, the berm is next to the kerb.  Because it is a new street, there is also a strip next to the property boundaries for the underground services.

The advantages of this arrangement include:

  • The vehicle crossings are flat or at least shallower – better for mobility scooters and wheelchairs.
  • There is room for street-tree planting.
  • Some think this looks better, providing a more pleasing streetscape. 

And the disadvantages?

  • Unless there is room, as in the photo above, the underground services go under the footpath.  If they need to be repaired, you end up with a patched-up footpath.
  • Passengers from vehicles alight on to the grass, which may be wet.
  • Trees and shrubs overhanging from the properties can obstruct the footpath.

Of course, there are compromises, like this!  Unfortunately, the trees that were supposed to have been planted between the footpath and the kerb never happened.  Another compromise are those footpaths that curve around the street-trees.

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One Response to “Footpaths and Grass Berms”

  1. Annette Paterson Says:

    Trees on the roadsides are great. Unfortunately their roots do tend to make a mess of the footpaths. This is happening in lots of areas of Rangiora and so make it quite dangerous for some to go out walking. I am especially thinking of the elderly – and there are quite a few of them in our area. Whether they can walk independently or need a stick or walking frame – anyone can trip on uneven pathways. Those who ride mobility scooters also find the uneven surfaces difficult to handle. It is wonderful for people to stay in their own homes as long as possible as they age – but we all need fresh air and exercise and it is a great pity when people are scared to go out in case they fall and hurt themselves.

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