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Public places and spaces cover an expanse of areas. The great outdoors comes quickly to mind, such as parks, playgrounds, nature trails, bike paths, beaches, and gardens. Infrastructure also makes up an essential component of the public domain, notably municipal buildings and transportation hubs.
The significance of public places is not to be understated. They stimulate activity, both commercial and social. They improve the quality of life and offer opportunities for exercise, education, and relaxation.
Most importantly, public places are, by definition, for everyone. Whatever its specific purpose or structure, safety and accessibility must be considered for the spaces to be truly public.
A park, trail, or boardwalk may look simple and serene, but each comes with many associated costs, first construction and then maintenance. A critical component of these spaces is safety railing. A regulatory-compliant railing system serves as a barrier that protects people from hazards. It also offers a steadying handrail and fall protection for stairways and pathways.
For durability and cost savings, metal railings built with pipe fittings are the best bet. Both galvanized steel or aluminum railings provide the corrosion resistance necessary to hold up decade after decade against the weather and harsh environments, such as nearby salt water.
Pipe railings with fittings are also faster and easier to install or reconfigure than welded railings, thus offering an economical choice. When aesthetics are considered, steel and aluminum railings can be powder coated with various attractive colours.
An entire park or recreational facility may require an engineered safety railing system to meet regulatory standards and serve its visitors and employees. Smaller spaces may need only a simple solution for safety railing
Pre-engineered railing kits can meet such needs, for example, at a school to guide students into the building orderly or a safety barrier at a transportation pick-up or drop-off zone.
Railing kits include pre-assembled uprights with base, mid-rail, and top-rail fittings, plus cross railings that insert into the fittings and connect the uprights. A typical kit is either a 12-ft. straight bar or a 90-degree corner set, 6 feet each in the two directions. Either can be easily extended 6 feet with a railing extension kit. Galvanized steel or aluminum components will provide corrosion resistance for outdoor use.
Public buildings for business, education, or recreation typically have safety railings, but they must also factor in full accessibility. To this end, ADA-compliant handrails and wheelchair access ramps are needed.
Handrails must be on both sides of a stairway or ramp and properly spaced at a consistent height (34 to 38 inches) and width (36 inches for a wheelchair to fit). For complete compliance, they must also be smooth, continuous, and not affected by extreme temperatures.
Ramps constructed from corrosion-resistant stainless steel, galvanized steel, and aluminum components with a Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) walkway are more robust than wood and more flexible than concrete ramps. The walkway should also have an anti-slip mini mesh that provides good surface drainage and is suitable for all weather conditions.
Is today a beach day? Perhaps we are at the opposite end of the calendar, and a stroll through a winter wonderland is in order. Do you need to hop on a train, attend to business at a municipal office, or just relax and watch the world go by?
Public places and spaces are important to the well-being of everyone in a society. Although beauty and tranquility or activity are part of those spaces, safety and accessibility—as demonstrated by safety railings and access ramps—also provide ease of mind.