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< prev - next > Transport and infrastructure Road building KnO 100388_Improving paths and tracks part 3 (Printable PDF)
Improved paths and tracks: Part 3
Practical Action
The construction of steps is another method of improving the steep sections of footpaths.
Steps enable moderately steep slopes to be ascended and descended safely. They do have a
number of drawbacks, which must be considered before taking a decision to construct steps.
The main points to consider are that steps:
can be difficult to negotiate for anyone carrying a headload and unable to look down at
their feet;
will block the route to any wheeled vehicle;
can be difficult for pack animals, particularly when they are going downhill; and
will require frequent maintenance.
The tread length should be either one metre, equivalent to two paces, or half a metre, about
one pace. This enables people carrying heavy loads to keep to a constant rhythm when
ascending or descending the steps. For comfort, the rise of the steps should be in the range
of 160 to 250mm. In any flight of steps, the rise of each step should be kept the same
throughout. The steps should
be wide enough so that users
do not have to move off to
one side to pass each other,
as this encourages the
development of a parallel
path which may erode
quickly. One metre provides
a comfortable width of step.
The top surface of the step
should slope slightly
downwards from the back to
the front of the step. This
helps drainage by preventing
the formation of puddles on
the treads. The steps
themselves can be
constructed of stone, timber
poles, or bamboo. Wooden
steps should be secured by
two stakes about 500mm
long. They should be driven
into the ground in front of
each step and positioned
about 200mm from each end
of the step. The top of the
stakes should be level with
the top of the step. Typical
Figure 5. Typical timber pole or bamboo steps
details of timber/bamboo
steps are illustrated in
Figures 5 and 6.