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Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access

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Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables

Introduction

  1. 1. Disability Rights Legislation and Accessibility Guidelines and Standards in the United States
    1. 1.1 Accessibility Legislation and Access Design Standards Prior to the ADA
      1. 1.1.1 American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A117.1
      2. 1.1.2 The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
      3. 1.1.3 The Rehabilitation Act
    2. 1.2 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
      1. 1.2.1 Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG)
      2. 1.2.2 Implementing Regulations for Title II and Title III
      3. 1.2.3 ADA Regulations that Apply to Public Entities
      4. 1.2.4 ADA Regulations for Places of Public Accommodation and Commercial Facilities
    3. 1.3 Accessibility Guidelines, Requirements, and Standards for Sidewalks and Trails
      1. 1.3.1 Sidewalks
      2. 1.3.2 Trails
      3. 1.3.3 Access to Wilderness Areas
    4. 1.4 Conclusion
  2. 2. Characteristics of Pedestrians
    1. 2.1 Older Adults
      1. 2.1.1 Safety
      2. 2.1.2 Ambulation
      3. 2.1.3 Object Manipulation
      4. 2.1.4 Visual and Cognitive Processing
    2. 2.2 Children
    3. 2.3 People with Disabilities
      1. 2.3.1 People with Mobility Impairments
        1. 2.3.1.1 Wheelchair and scooter users
        2. 2.3.1.2 Walking-aid users
        3. 2.3.1.3 Prosthesis users
      2. 2.3.2 People with Sensory Impairments
        1. 2.3.2.1 People with visual impairments
        2. 2.3.2.2 People with hearing impairments
      3. 2.3.3 People with Cognitive Impairments
    4. 2.4 Conclusion
  3. 3. Summary of the Planning Process
    1. 3.1 Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century
    2. 3.2 Building a Multi- and Intermodal System
    3. 3.3 Federal Transportation Funding Opportunities
    4. 3.4 Planning under Federal Transportation Legislation
    5. 3.5 Transportation Agencies
    6. 3.6 Land Management Agencies
    7. 3.7 Pedestrian/Bicycle Coordinators
    8. 3.8 Other Transportation Planning Participants
    9. 3.9 Strategies for Public Involvement
    10. 3.10 Community Impact Assessment
    11. 3.11 Conclusion
  4. 4. Sidewalk Design Guidelines and Existing Practices
    1. 4.1 Location Research
    2. 4.2 Design Guideline Comparisons
    3. 4.3 Access Characteristics
      1. 4.3.1 Grade
      2. 4.3.2 Cross-Slope
      3. 4.3.3 Width
      4. 4.3.4 Passing Space and Passing Space Interval
      5. 4.3.5 Vertical Clearance
      6. 4.3.6 Changes in Level
      7. 4.3.7 Grates and Gaps
      8. 4.3.8 Obstacles and Protruding Objects
      9. 4.3.9 Surface
    4. 4.4 Sidewalk Elements
      1. 4.4.1 Curb Ramps
        1. 4.4.1.1 Curb ramp components
        2. 4.4.1.2 Curb ramp specifications
        3. 4.4.1.3 Curb ramp types
        4. 4.4.1.4 Curb ramp placement
        5. 4.4.1.5 Curb ramps and people with visual impairments
      2. 4.4.2 Conveying Information to Pedestrians with Visual Impairments
        1. 4.4.2.1 Raised tactile surfaces used as detectable warnings
        2. 4.4.2.2 Raised tactile surfaces used for wayfinding
        3. 4.4.2.3 Materials with contrasting sound properties
        4. 4.4.2.4 Grooves
        5. 4.4.2.5 Contrasting colors for people with low vision
        6. 4.4.2.6 Audible and vibrotactile pedestrian signals
        7. 4.4.2.7 ADAAG requirements for detectable warnings
    5. 4 (cont.). Sidewalk Design Guidelines and Existing Practices
      1. 4.4.3 Driveway Crossings
      2. 4.4.4 Medians and Islands
      3. 4.4.5 Crosswalks
      4. 4.4.6 Crossing Times
      5. 4.4.7 Pedestrian-Actuated Traffic Controls
      6. 4.4.8 Midblock Crossings
      7. 4.4.9 Sight Distances
      8. 4.4.10 Grade-Separated Crossings
      9. 4.4.11 Roadway Design
      10. 4.4.12 Drainage
      11. 4.4.13 Building Design
      12. 4.4.14 Maintenance
      13. 4.4.15 Signs
    6. 4.5 Conclusion
  5. 5. Trail Design for Access
    1. 5.1 Universal Trail-Assessment Process
    2. 5.2 Design Guideline Comparisons
    3. 5.3 Trail Types
    4. 5.4 Access Characteristics
      1. 5.4.1 Grade
      2. 5.4.2 Rest Areas
      3. 5.4.3 Cross-Slope
      4. 5.4.4 Width
      5. 5.4.5 Passing Space
      6. 5.4.6 Changes in Level
      7. 5.4.7 Vertical Clearance
      8. 5.4.8 Surface
      9. 5.4.9 Trail Information
      10. 5.4.10 Maintenance
    5. 5.5 Design Conflicts
      1. 5.5.1 Trail Elements
      2. 5.5.2 Built Facilities Along Trails
      3. 5.5.3 Designing Trail Amenities for Multiple User Groups
      4. 5.5.4 Drainage Control Measures and Access
      5. 5.5.5 Complying with Design Standards
      6. 5.5.6 Difficulty Ratings for Trails
    6. 5.6 User Conflicts
      1. 5.6.1 Experience Level
      2. 5.6.2 Expectations
      3. 5.6.3 Conflicts Among User Groups
        1. 5.6.3.1 Technology differences
        2. 5.6.3.2 Movement patterns
        3. 5.6.3.3 Perceived environmental impact
        4. 5.6.3.4 New and newly popularized sports
      4. 5.6.4 Lack of Communication Among Trail Users
      5. 5.6.5 Number of Users
      6. 5.6.6 Minimizing User Conflicts on Trails
  6. 5 (cont.). Trail Design for Access
    1. 5.7 Conclusion

Appendix A: Abbreviations and Acronyms

Appendix B: Glossary

Appendix C: Bibliography

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Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access

List of Figures

Figure 2-1: Wheelchair and scooter dimensions (in mm) (based on Architecture and Engineering for Parks Canada and Public Works and Government Services Canada, 1994).

Figure 2-2: Circle diameter of a standard manual wheelchair [ADAAG, Figure 4.3(a), U.S. Access Board, 1991].

Figure 2-3: High and low side-reach limits (Barrier Free Environments, Inc., 1996).

Figure 2-4: Maximum side-reach over an obstruction [ADAAG, Figure 4.6(c), U.S. Access Board, 1991].

Figure 2-5: High and low forward-reach limits (Barrier Free Environments, Inc., 1996).

Figure 2-6: Maximum forward-reach over an obstruction (PLAE, Inc., 1993).

Figure 3-1: Sources of input during the project development process (based on FHWA, 1997a).

Figure 4-1: Maximum grades can make a sidewalk difficult to traverse, even if the overall running grade is moderate.

Figure 4-2: The gutter slopes counter to the slope of the curb ramp to promote drainage.

Figure 4-3: Excessive slope differences between gutter and ramp can cause a wheelchair to tip forward.

Figure 4-4: Excessive slope differences between a gutter and a ramp can cause wheelchairs to flip over backward.

Figure 4-5: Ramps must have level landings (based on ADAAG Figure 16, U.S. Access Board, 1991).

Figure 4-6: When cross-slopes change rapidly over a short distance, wheelchair use becomes extremely unstable.

Figure 4-7: Most pedestrians prefer to travel in the center of the sidewalk.

Figure 4-8: Passing spaces should be included at intervals on narrow sidewalks to allow wheelchair users to pass one another.

Figure 4-9: Wheelchair users require 1.525 m x 1.525 m (60 in x 60 in) to maneuver in a complete circle.

Figure 4-10: Changes in level are often caused by tree roots that break through the sidewalk surface.

Figure 4-11: Vertical and beveled changes in level [ADAAG, Figure 7(c, d), U.S. Access Board, 1991].

Figure 4-12: Wheelchair casters and cane and crutch tips can easily get caught in wide grates.

Figure 4-13: Obstacles mounted on posts should not protrude more than 0.305 m (12 in) into a circulation corridor [ADAAG, Figure 8(d), U.S. Access Board, 1991].

Figure 4-14: Components of a curb ramp.

Figure 4-15: Alternative slope profiles for alterations when an 8.33 percent slope is not achievable.

Figure 4-16: This wheelchair user is maneuvering successfully at a curb ramp because a level landing is provided.

Figure 4-17: This wheelchair user will have difficulty entering the sidewalk because the curb ramp lacks a landing.

Figure 4-18: This wheelchair user will have difficulty traveling around the corner because the curb ramp lacks a landing.

Figure 4-19: Flares provide a sloped transition between the ramp and the surrounding sidewalk and are designed to prevent ambulatory pedestrians from tripping.

Figure 4-20: Returned curbs may be used when the curb ramp is located outside the pedestrian walkway, such as in a planting strip.

Figure 4-21: Without level landings, perpendicular curb ramps are problematic for wheelchair users and others to travel across.

Figure 4-22: Two perpendicular curb ramps with level landings maximize access for pedestrians at intersections.

Figure 4-23: If diagonal curb ramps are installed, a 1.220-m (48-in) clear space should be provided to allow wheelchair users enough room to maneuver into the crosswalk.

Figure 4-24: Parallel curb ramps work well on narrow sidewalks but require users continuing on the pathway to negotiate two ramp grades.

Figure 4-25: A combination curb ramp is a creative way to avoid steep curb ramps and still provide level landings.

Figure 4-26: Built-up curb ramp with drainage inlets.

Figure 4-27: Built-up curb ramp with a drainage pipe.

Figure 4-28: To avoid having to negotiate changing grades and changing cross-slope simultaneously, a wheelchair user has to turn at the grade transition.

Figure 4-29: Curb ramps designed with the ramp perpendicular to the curb eliminate rapidly changing grades and cross-slopes at the grade transition.

Figure 4-30: Truncated domes are an effective way of indicating a drop-off at transit platform.

Figure 4-31: Colored stone sidewalks with concrete curb ramps have a detectable color change.

Figure 4-32: Driveway crossings without landings confront wheelchair users with severe and rapidly changing cross-slopes at the driveway flare.

Figure 4-33: When sidewalks have a planter strip, the ramp of the driveway does not interfere with a pedestrian's path of travel.

Figure 4-34: On wide sidewalks, there is enough room to provide a ramp for drivers and retain a level landing for pedestrians.

Figure 4-35: Jogging the sidewalk back from the street provides a level landing for pedestrians on narrow sidewalks.

Figure 4-36: Although parallel driveway crossings provide users with level landings, users continuing on the sidewalk are forced to negotiate two ramps.

Figure 4-37: Inaccessible sidewalk caused by many individual parking lots

Figure 4-38: Improved accessibility created by combining parking lots and reducing the number of entrances and exits.

Figure 4-39: Cut-through corner island and center median (based on OR DOT, 1995).

Figure 4-40: Ramped corner island and cut-through median (based on OR DOT, 1995).

Figure 4-41: Two horizontal lines are the most common crosswalk markings.

Figure 4-42: A ladder design was found to be the most visible type of pedestrian crosswalk marking.

Figure 4-43: Diagonal markings enhance visibility.

Figure 4-44: A large, easy-to-press button makes pedestrian-actuated traffic controls more usable for people with limited hand strength and dexterity

Figure 4-45: Curb extensions at midblock crossings help reduce crossing distance.

Figure 4-46: Sight line obstructed by parked cars prevents drivers from seeing pedestrians starting to cross the street.

Figure 4-47: Partial curb extensions improve visibility between pedestrians and motorists.

Figure 4-48: Full curb extensions improve visibility between pedestrians and motorists.

Figure 4-49: Pedestrian and biker underpass.

Figure 4-50: When roads are not milled, layers of asphalt build up and make the crossing difficult for wheelchair users and others.

Figure 4-51: Milling roads from gutter to gutter prevents rapidly changing grades and makes intersections easier for wheelchair users to negotiate.

Figure 4-52: Stairs bridging low street elevation and high finished-floor elevation prevent wheelchair access into the building.

Figure 4-53: Steep cross-slopes bridging low street elevation and high finished-floor elevation make the sidewalk difficult for wheelchair users to travel across.

Figure 4-54: A level area at least 0.915 m (36 in) wide improves access when there is a low street elevation and high finished-floor elevation.

Figure 4-55: A higher curb provides a level pathway but might increase the slope of curb ramps if the sidewalk is narrow.

Figure 4-56: Traffic sign indicating upcoming steep grade (US DOT, 1988).

Figure 4-57: Pedestrian sign indicating upcoming steep grade.

Figure 5-1: Outdoor recreation access routes (ORARs) link accessible elements at a recreation site.

Figure 5-2: Trails often have maximum grades that are significantly steeper than typical running grades.

Figure 5-3: Well-designed switchbacks reduce the grade of a trail and make hiking easier for people with mobility disabilities.

Figure 5-4: Rest areas enhance the trail for all users.

Figure 5-5: Tree roots that break up the surface of the trail should be removed because they can cause users to trip.

Figure 5-6: The vertical clearance of a trail should depend on the designated user groups.

Figure 5-7: Soft surfaces are difficult for people with mobility impairments to negotiate and therefore should be avoided.

Figure 5-8: If a trail is accessible, the trail elements along the path also should be accessible.

Figure 5-9: Rubber waterbars are difficult for wheelchair users and bikers to push down when traveling uphill, but they are still more desirable than inflexible waterbars.

Figure 5-10: Swales can control drainage and eliminate the need for waterbars.

Figure 5-11: Separate pathways and clear signage can help reduce conflicts between users who travel at different speeds.

Figure 5-12: Trail signs can help clarify trail etiquette.

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Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access

List of Tables

Table 1-1: Developments in Disability Rights Legislation and Accessibility Guidelines from 1961 to 1998

Table 2-1: Highest Reach for Wheelchair Users (based on Steinfeld, Schroeder, and Bishop, 1979)

Table 2-2: Eye-Level Measurements for Wheelchair Users (based on Steinfeld, Schroeder, and Bishop, 1979)

Table 4-1: Grade, Cross-Slope, and Curb Height Guidelines by Functional Class of Roadway (based on information contained in AASHTO, 1995)

Table 4-2.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Accessible Routes

Table 4-2.2: ADAAG-Proposed Section 14 (1994) Accessibility Guidelines for Public Rights-of-Way

Table 4-2.3: State Guidelines for Sidewalks

Table 4-2.4: Additional Recommendations for Sidewalks

Table 4-3.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Curb Ramps (CR)

Table 4-3.2: ADAAG-Proposed Section 14 (1994) Accessibility Guidelines for Curb Ramps (CR)

Table 4-3.3: State and City Guidelines for Curb Ramps (CR)

Table 4-3.4: Additional Recommendations for Curb Ramps (CR)

Table 5-1: Results of 10 Trail Assessments Show That on Many Trails, the Maximum Grade and Cross-Slope Significantly Exceed the Typical Average Grade and Cross-Slope (Chesney and Axelson, 1994)

Table 5-2: Cross-Slope Ranges by Surface Type (AASHTO, 1995)

Table 5-3: Scoping Requirements for Accessible Parking Spaces

Table 5-4.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Slope without Landings and Handrails

Table 5-4.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Maximum Allowable Running Grade

Table 5-4.3: Federal Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Grade

Table 5-4.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Grade

Table 5-4.5: Additional Recommendations for Maximum Allowable Running Grade

Table 5-5.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Maximum Slope for a Specified Ramp Run with Landings and Handrails

Table 5-5.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Maximum Grade for a Specified Distance (Run)

Table 5-5.3: Federal Guidelines for Maximum Grade for a Specified Distance (Run)

Table 5-5.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Maximum Grade for a Specified Distance (Run)

Table 5-5.5: Additional Recommendations for Maximum Grade for a Specified Distance (Run)

Table 5-6.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Cross-Slope

Table 5-6.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Maximum Allowable Running Cross-Slope

Table 5-6.3: Federal Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Cross-Slope

Table 5-6.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Maximum Allowable Running Cross-Slope

Table 5-6.5: Additional Recommendations for Maximum Allowable Running Cross-Slope

Table 5-7.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Minimum Clearance Width

Table 5-7.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Minimum Clearance Width

Table 5-7.3: Federal Guidelines for Minimum Clearance Width

Table 5-7.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Minimum Clearance Width

Table 5-7.5: Additional Recommendations for Minimum Clearance Width

Table 5-8.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Vertical Changes in Level

Table 5-8.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Vertical Changes in Level

Table 5-8.3: Federal Guidelines for Vertical Changes in Level

Table 5-8.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Vertical Changes in Level

Table 5-8.5: Additional Recommendations for Vertical Changes in Level

Table 5-9.1: Federal Accessibility Guidelines for Vertical Clearance (Head Room)

Table 5-9.2: Federal Advisory Committee Recommendations for Vertical Clearance

Table 5-9.3: Federal Guidelines for Vertical Clearance

Table 5-9.4: State, County, and City Guidelines for Vertical Clearance

Table 5-9.5: Additional Recommendations for Vertical Clearance

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