A sidewalk makes it easier to walk around your neighborhood. Usually a sidewalk indicates a neighborhood where people walk -- maybe to the store, the park, work, to mass transit or maybe just to visit the neighbors. Some places use the term "pavement" to mean this paved path for walkers, normally next to roads or between buildings. Other places, such as New Zealand, call it "footpath". Other terms include footpath, footway, or platform.
Most sidewalks are concrete or asphalt. Some are built of brick or paving stones. They can have different widths and "finishes". The surface of concrete sidewalks is generally "creamed", with a smooth cosmetic surface that looks more appealing to pedestrians. This surface, when cured, is thinner and more brittle than the concrete below, and a concrete sealer is applied to prevent spalling damage, which causes the surface to flake and peel off.
Local regulations regarding the maintenance of any sidewalks on your frontage vary. In some locals (and in all parts of some countries), the maintenance and repair of the sidewalk is taken care of by the local government. Other places require the home owner to pay for and maintain the sidewalk.
Another area for regulations is the clearing of snow. Again, in some places (and in all parts of some countries) the municipality takes care of snow removal, and in other places the property owner is responsible for clearing snow within a certain time period from when the snowfall ends.
Some places also regulate the width and grade of the sidewalk as well as ramps for handicap access, crossing the road, etc.
From the Latrobe City Council's page on Footpaths and Kerbs:
- Types of footpath maintenance include:
- Replacement of concrete sections;
- Grinding of minor hazards or defects;
- Grading or topping up of gravel footpaths;
- Sealing/patching of defects in asphalt paths.
- Wikipedia's article on sidewalk
- Concrete Walkways and Sidewalks on concretenetwork.com, which shows a variety of different decorative options