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Pavement

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This article is about paved surface. For other uses of the term Pavement, please see Pavement (disambiguation).

A pavement in architecture is a stone or tile structure which can serve as a floor or an external feature. Pavements can be made of flagstones, tiles or mosaic, and are common in buildings with a formal planned structure. It's usage spread to that of a common surface design specifically for pedestrian traffic as oppose to use by horses, carts, and vehicles.

Situated alongside a road or formed like walkways that are alongside roads (such as a cement footpath through a park), they are normally constructed of concrete (particularly in the United States, where they are called sidewalks, and Canada), asphalt, brick (particularly in Europe), stone or (increasingly) rubber, designed for pedestrian traffic and often running alongside a road. In the 19th century and early 20th century, pavements of wood were also 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. Stone slabs called flagstones or flags are often 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.

Geography and history of pavements

Pavements are more common in modern urban areas, where they may abut the road, than in suburban areas, where they are sometimes separated from the road by a tree lawn (depending on available spaces and prior urban planning). Pavements are rare in rural areas. In some countries, such as the United States, pavements are sometimes constructed on private land that the government has obtained an easement to use. Ordinary responsibility for maintaining safe passage of the public, such as snow and ice removal, remains with the property owner.

In some jurisdictions, shared use facilities specifically designed to serve both pedestrian and bicycle traffic have been installed in place of pavements.

Pavements vary in width, depending on traffic in the area, though are generally wider than 4 ft (1.3 m). Often that is too narrow however, particularly when obstructions are placed on the pavement (street lights, traffic signal poles, news stands, road signs, fire hydrants etc.), or if bicycles use the facility.

Most western countries have a policy about the removal of so-called "architectural barriers" in order to reduce the difficulties for disabled people, and these policies usually reserve a great attention to pavements. The Americans with Disabilities Act, like other rules in other countries, requires pavements to have curb cuts at intersections so that pavements can be used by persons in wheelchairs.

There is usually a gutter between the pavement and the road, and the pavement surface is slightly tilted to let the water flow into the gutter.

Construction of pavements

Pavements are most often made of cement. Multi-use paths are often made of asphalt or other materials that are softer than cement. While pavements can be made of gravel, wood, rubber, and other materials, such paths are usually not called pavements. Brick and stone are also common. A pavement is often built where a dirt path existed before. The most common pavement construction is made of cement sections that are about 1 metre long and butted up against each other. One of the reasons pavement are not contructed in longer sections is that the earth often moves beneath the pavement enough to seriously crack it over a large length; whereas if there are sections then just some of the sections can move, leaving the others intact.