Footpaths and walkways are the arteries of our communities. They connect residents to local services, amenities, and the wider world, facilitating efficient movement between locations. They are vital components of residential areas and have a big impact on the overall quality of life for local people.

For these reasons, well-defined public and private spaces, connected by safe and accessible streets are integral to community development. To achieve this, designs for these areas must be inclusive, placing people at the heart of the design process and providing environments that are convenient and enjoyable for everyone.

What are the differences between streets and roads?

There are core differences between what we define as a street and what we define as a road.

The main function of a road is to accommodate the movement of motor traffic. Streets, on the other hand, are typically lined with buildings and public spaces. While movement is still a key function, streets should also function in order to meet people’s needs as places for living and working.

High-quality streets:

â—Ź Encourage more people to walk and cycle to local destinations
â—Ź Provide improved personal security and road safety
â—Ź Strengthen communities and encourages a sense of pride in local environments
â—Ź Encourage a sense of ownership and a stake in maintaining the quality of their local streets and public spaces.

The Principal Functions of Streets

Streets have five principal functions:

1. Place

Sense of place is fundamental to a richer and more fulfilling environment. This comes from creating a strong relationship between the street and the buildings and spaces that frame it. It encompasses a number of aspects including local distinctiveness, visual quality and propensity to encourage social activity.

The choice of surface materials and both soft and hard landscaping (such as plants and street furniture) plays a large part in achieving a sense of place.

2. Movement

Providing for movement is vital, including people walking and cycling. Streets should be smooth, durable, and accessible, catering not just for motor vehicles but to pedestrians and cyclists too.

3. Access

Another important function of streets is access to buildings and public spaces. This access should be designed with people of all ages and abilities in mind to create lively and active spaces.

4. Parking

While not always a requirement, parking is a key function of most streets. The combination of car parks and on-street parking provides convenient access to frontages and can add to the vitality of a street.

5. Drainage, utilities and street lighting

Streets are the main conduits for drainage and utilities. Sustainable drainage brings about a number of environmental benefits, such as flood control, preservation of wildlife habitats and efficient wastewater recycling.

Finding a balance in footpath and street design

In the past, road design has highly prioritised the movement of vehicles over pedestrians and cyclists. This approach has, in some parts of the country, created disjointed patterns of development with poor provision for pedestrian activity. Now, more than ever, streets should be designed with a combination of functions in mind, without focusing solely on one to the exclusion of others.

At NatraTex, we provide surfacing options suitable for a wide range of applications ranging from regeneration to retail. From NatraTex Cotswold to NatraTex Eco, we offer an array of surfacing products that can be used to create park footpaths, walkways, access roads, driveways, car parks and cycle paths that are smooth, anti-slip, accessible and sympathetic to the surrounding environment. To find out more about NatraTex, please contact us today and speak to our team.