When I read that Washington, D.C. had put down some rubber sidewalks I decided I just had to go test them. I'm a city kid. I was raised playing hit-the-penny on concrete (wow, did I just date myself) and making sure not to break my mother's back by stepping on a crack. Would rubber sidewalks ruin everything? Here's what I found.
- The pink rubber balls (we had Spaldeens back then; this time I used a Hi-Bounce Pinky) used for hit-the-penny bounce a few inches higher on concrete than on rubber. Probably not noticeable except if you do a test.
- The rubber is great for skating. There seems to be less friction and noise. But the wheels leave marks, possibly just dirt and dust. Score one for inline skaters, minus one for the city.
- Chalk goes on more smoothly on rubber than asphalt but doesn't stay on as long. It washes off both materials in the rain. Minus one for hopscotch players. Score it a wash for the city.
- Thin high heels wobble a bit but overall the rubber is probably gentler on the body. Score one for walkers and runners. Score one for the city from pleased constituents.
Another finding -- and more pics! -- after the jump.
Check out the "Idea Center" on Governing's home page for some actual useful information about rubber sidewalks and watch for a one-page feature on them on the last page of Governing's September issue for even more information.