Shared use routes refer to footpaths and walkways used by pedestrians, cyclists, and horse-riders of all abilities. These include public bridleways, cycle paths and restricted byways.

In recent years, the importance of sustainable and safe shared use routes has been highlighted by several groups, particularly as health and sustainable living becomes a priority. For this reason, it is necessary to understand the requirements which shared routes should meet to ensure they are safe, accessible and sustainable.

Factors To Consider For Shared Use Routes

When choosing the appropriate surfacing for shared use routes, you must consider:

  • User Requirements – Surfacing should be suitable for walkers (including wheelchair users or individuals with restricted mobility), cyclists (including those who use specially adapted pedal cycles or tandem cycles) and horse riders (including disabled riders and carriage drivers)
  • Route Environment – When selecting a surface course, the character of the route should be considered.
  • Budget and Costs – In terms of costs, affordable, sustainable, high-quality solutions should be considered, including maintenance and repair costs.

Factors concerning surfacing requirements will vary depending on the route and the environment. For example, in some areas, conservation and regeneration may be prioritised over access due to the surroundings and vice versa.

User Requirements For Shared Use Routes

The type of surfacing chosen for shared use routes should be:

  • Smooth
  • Permeable
  • In keeping with the character of the route
  • Non-slip
  • Useable in all weathers
  • Easy to maintain

Surfacing should also take into account how the routes are utilised. Examples of this include essential travel (such as commuting), recreation, leisure and tourism.

Budget and Cost

Budget and costs are usually the biggest constraints on the selection of surfacing for shared routes. The costing of works should consider the capital and maintenance costs of the route surfacing including the cost of the physical construction of the route and maintenance costs which will be needed to keep the route fit for purpose.

While it might be tempting to choose surface courses with lower construction costs, failure to consider maintenance needs could prove more expensive in the long run.

Design Considerations

The core consideration when choosing surfacing materials for a shared use footpath is accessibility. For this, it is necessary to establish what kind of area it is and what is its general intended purpose.

Other questions to take into account include:

  • What is the current condition of the existing/proposed shared-use route?
  • What are the user requirements for the shared use route?
  • What are the potential ecological or archaeological impacts of the shared use route surface?
  • What are the drainage characteristics for the shared use route?
  • What are the budget considerations for the share use route surface?
  • What are the options for surfacing materials and construction/maintenance of the shared-use route?

NatraTex For Shared Use Routes

NatraTex is a cost-effective durable landscaping material that is commonly used in recreational, residential, regeneration and retail projects. It is a great choice for shared use routes due to its versatility, durability and low maintenance attributes.

For projects which need to take into account the surrounding environment, our flagship product, NatraTex Cotswold, is a great option. As an asphalt surface course, it is installed at the same depth as conventional macadam and is available in 2 neutral buff shades that are sympathetic to the surrounding environment. NatraTex Cotswold can be used in a wide variety of projects, including park footpaths, cycle paths and more, which makes it an ideal choice for shared-use routes.

Unlike gravel footpaths and resin bonded surfaces, NatraTex surfacing is fully bound which means the aggregates will not come loose or require reinstatement. It also boasts superior anti-slip properties and is resistant to weeds, which means it requires very little maintenance even with sustained use over long periods.

For more information about NatraTex and how it can be used to great effect in shared use routes, contact us today. Our team would be delighted to answer any questions you may have about your project and supply you with a list of approved contractors who are experienced in the application of NatraTex. For architects and designers interested in specifying NatraTex for future projects, we can arrange a CPD session to help you learn more about our cost-effective, durable, low maintenance product ranges including NatraTex Cotswold, NatraTex Colour and NatraTex Eco.