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I was recently walking down a road when a car came my way (I'm an inveterate jaywalker). I moved over to the sidewalk, only to notice it clearly wasn't a sidewalk at all. The pavement looked like this:

enter image description here

The paving stones are embedded into and perpendicular to the ground, making it rather uncomfortable to walk on!

Now, what is the purpose of such pavement? Is this layout meant to improve drainage in case of rain (this is in London, so it's always raining)? But then why pave the ground at all instead of simply using grass or greenery to anchor the soil and prevent erosion?

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    $\begingroup$ Grass does not grow well in shade.. so if it does not get much sun then the stones may be better, also it could be designed to absorb water run-off rapidly. $\endgroup$ – Solar Mike Sep 21 '18 at 23:37
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The technical term for this (in the UK) is "deterrent paving" and its function is to discourage pedestrians, cyclists and drivers from being where they are not supposed to be. In the OP's photo, the paved area apparently is leading to a "dead end" which is divided from the roadway by a crash barrier - i.e. this is not a "footpath".

From the photo on their web page, this company supplies the same type as in the OP's image: http://www.pavingexpert.com/special.htm

The design isn't intended to improve rainwater drainage - the paving blocks actually cover the entire surface area.

This appears to be the exact product in the OP's picture: https://www.aggregate.com/sites/aiuk/files/atoms/files/charcon-landscaping-paving-elite-tds.pdf

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    $\begingroup$ Yep, I certainly felt discouraged from walking on that stuff! Solid answer. In this case, it wasn't a dead end, though. It was a sideroad which led to a shopping mall. It's just that parallel to this road was the mall's parking lot, so pedestrians should've been walking through there instead. I just missed the first entrance to the parking lot and therefore accidentally kept walking on that road. And for the record, I learned my lesson. I returned there a few days later and didn't walk there again! $\endgroup$ – Wasabi Sep 22 '18 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ By "dead end" I meant the footpath seemed to be tapering to nothing, not that the road didn't go anywhere useful. $\endgroup$ – alephzero Sep 22 '18 at 19:20

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