‘The lack of tripping hazards makes for a pleasurable pedestrian experience so sought after in these communities.’
Dangerous trip hazards in public footpaths and cycleways are an expensive problem for many Australian local governments. These hazards are most commonly caused by soil movement and tree root invasion, which displaces concrete slabs in public pathways.
The cost to the council and its community well exceeds the financial cost of each repaired or replaced slab. Apart from the risk of personal injury, amenities and services are regularly interrupted. Grinding sends harmful concrete dust into the environment. And slab replacement increases cement production, which means more of its by-product, CO2, is released into the atmosphere.
In 2005, Knox City Council in Victoria had a total footpath network of around 1,200km. They were keen to explore a more sustainable footpath option that would deliver greater benefits for their community. They wanted their footpaths to last longer, cost less to maintain and to provide environmental benefits.
Knox City Council needed a concrete jointing system that would accommodate the upward pressure from tree root invasion and soil movement. Not one that would just lock the slabs together in an attempt to resist the irresistible upward pressure. They were investigating TripStop, a unique articulating jointing system used in the construction of concrete footpaths and cycleways. TripStop allows for up and down slab movement without causing slab displacement and, therefore, eliminates the need for footpath maintenance.
Knox City Council had already conducted a small trial of TripStop that had produced encouraging results. In 2005, they undertook a large-scale trial in the serene streetscapes of Rowville’s Sutton Lakes Estate.
This section of the council’s concrete footpath network was originally constructed in the early 1980s. It was 3.6km and consisted of 2,683 concrete slabs. A combination of soil movement and tree root invasion meant the slabs required ongoing maintenance in the form of grinding, slab replacement or both.
The council specified TripStop in the construction design for replacing 415 of the 2,683 concrete slabs. From 2005 TripStop was installed in footpaths located in the tree-laden streetscapes of nine adjoining Rowville streets.
Seven years later, in October 2012, members of the TripStop team went back to assess and record how the footpaths were performing. The results for TripStop were exceptional.
Our team walked the streets of Rowville and photographed the performance of every slab and joint constructed with and without TripStop. We recorded the data and published the results.
Inspection of all 415 slabs built using TripStop revealed no Failures. There was significant tree root invasion and soil displacement. Many of the sites without TripStop had experienced substantial movement, been displaced and ground down. But not one of the TripStop slabs had displacements, which meant no costly maintenance issues either.
This highly successful trial proves that with the correct planning procedures, you can preserve your pathways while saving your council excessive slab replacement and maintenance costs.
It also demonstrates how well TripStop works in urban environments by preserving the unbroken and pristine look of the pathways over many years.
These maintenance-free footpaths ensure that the local infrastructure matches the high-end properties found in such a prestigious area. The nature reserve is no longer exposed to noxious concrete dust caused by grinding. And, because the area is free from tripping hazards, it’s highly walkable, which benefits the whole community, including local businesses.
By 2012, which was 32 years after the original 2,683 concrete slabs were laid:
That’s a replacement rate of 89.94% over 32 years for an asset that was originally designed to last 50 to 80 years. By comparison, the TripStop slabs had zero fails and were maintenance-free.
Had the original construction of the 2,683 slabs in 1980 included TripStop, at a cost of $81,908 to the developer of the subdivision, Knox City Council would have enjoyed the following benefits:
For detailed calculations see our table below.
In 2020 we can report that TripStop has been used by 200+ councils with no fails in well over 600,000 slabs in 18+ years.
There are simply no equivalents to TripStop.
TripStop is helping councils build sustainable footpaths and cycleways – want to know more?