I hate brick sidewalks

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I reported this crime to MPD's 50411 line this morning, by texting the photo by what little I observed.

Car brick break in 

Please note the brick near all the broken glass. It looks like the brick may have been at one time a law abiding sidewalk piece before it got loose and turned to a life of crime. Loose bricks that can be used to smash and grab are just one reason why I hate brick sidewalks. Oh, yes they are so pretty when they are first put in. But then life happens. Tree roots, soil density, flooding, and the odd utility crew who need to bust it up come by make it an uneven surface, where a brick can come loose and be used for evil.  

I can't stand the rain
I hate brick sidewalks when it rains. When it rains I must look like a drunk weaving around on the sidewalk trying to avoid puddles. The surface is very uneven. Everyso often when I am avoiding a puddle, I'll step on an uneven brick that will shoot cold wet gadknowswhat up my leg.

I dislike them when there is snow and ice. It's that uneven surface again when manually shovelling, I can't go far before jamming the edge of my shovel into a brick that is slightly upturned. Which is why I'm thankful the sidewalk outside of my house is concrete.

Brick looks historic to present day people. However I can't find any proof that my street's sidewalk was ever brick. In 1880 my street was "unimproved" which hints that it probably had no real sidewalk at that time, considering how much thought the 21st century DC government gives to sidewalks compared to roads. The earliest photo I can find of my street is from the 40s which shows some pretty even concrete. I love my historically accurate concrete sidewalk. 

8 Comments

I totally hear you about the stepping on bricks and having water from underneath shoot up at you! To be fair, that also happens with large drop-in stones that some fancy buildings downtown have outside their doors as well. But yeah, not the best for all the trees, and my alley just got this new brick treatment last month. It was nice that no one advised us that they would be starting their work at 6 AM for several weeks...

We went through this entire argument while discussing the new sidewalks on H Street NE. Brick sidewalks are fine when properly leveled and brand new. They are, however, a maintenance nightmare. Freezing temperatures combine with moisture to ruin the bricks quickly. They break apart, and that's dangerous for anyone wearing heels, or pushing a stroller/cart. Tree roots also ruin brick sidewalks. At that point no one can walk on them safely, and loose bricks do become a throwing hazard.

They put aggregate sidewalks on H Street NE. I think rubberized sidewalks are actually the best as they can be switched out as tree roots grow.

I am so with you regarding the supposed historicism of brick sidewalks. I am not overly fond of the brick, but I really dilike it when they are the default choice because people think they're historical. The reality is much more likely there were either no sidewalks at all, or they were made out of materials that contemporary folks would never accept in their historic districts - like asphalt.

The worst problem with brick is that it is slippery when it rains. This is in addition to the puddles. Concrete has has a rough surface, giving it a lot of traction in all kinds of weather.

I also think concrete can be attactive, especially as it ages. I always thought bricks are so precious because people think they just have to be historical. It's interesting to read that they are not at all.

IS the argument here really that crime is a result of brick availability?

That's weak.

You don't have to like brick sidewalks, but your crime prevention point doesn't pass the laugh test.

The best reason to advocate for brick sidewalks is that the industrial process to produce concrete is several times more energy intensive than firing bricks.

How about the energy to transport, install, and maintain brick versus concrete.

I love mother earth and saving $, but hate myopic arguments with vague statistics references.

Concrete as crime prevention is kinda silly - u right there

The energy to transport concrete is higher per mile than brick as well. Concrete is transported in liquid form, and agitated. Brick ships in simple stackable form, and is already desiccated when shipped. The real energy impact though, is in production. The process for firing lime into concrete is a huge energy hog. Several times more intensive per unit than brick firing. It uses several times more water, and higher water quality as well. There's just no comparison.

Not sure about the labor comparison. You'd have to look at the labor intensivity from material extraction through installation and repair. My guess is that brick would come out ahead there as well.

Here's some info for you: http://myoldschoolessays.blogspot.com/2009/02/concrete-vs-brick-what-difference-does.html

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