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The following guidance will help States and project sponsors meet Recreational Trail Program (RTP) requirements and provide best practices for trail accessibility, and trail design, construction, and maintenance.
Announcement of USDOT Accessibility Regulations: 49 CFR Part 37--Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities: Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 209 / Monday, October 30, 2006 / Rules and Regulations / Page 63263. HTML / PDF
FHWA/FTA Memorandum (September 25, 2000)
The Americans with Disabilities Act Policy promotes universal design and the development of a fully accessible transportation system. This document calls for mainstreaming facilities for people with disabilities in our nation's transportation system.
FHWA Program Administration Policy on Pedestrians and Accessible Design
The Office of Program Administration is concerned with the design of the pedestrian environment in the public right of way for disabled individuals.
Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access
FHWA's two-part report on pedestrian and trail accessibility, produced for FHWA by Beneficial Designs Inc.
Note: these two reports were published in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Accessibility guidelines and practices, and construction and maintenance techniques have evolved, and more current information is available in other reports and guidance. For example, see the US Access Board's reports and guidelines about public rights-of-way at www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way, such as the Special Report: Accessible Public Rights of Way Planning and Designing for Alterations, and reports and guidelines about outdoor developed areas at www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/recreation-facilities/outdoor-developed-areas.
Part 1, Review of Existing Guidelines and Practices (1999), lays out the history and the practices of applying accessibility concepts to sidewalks and pedestrian trails. (Out of print, available online only)
Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide (2001), provides recommendations on how to design sidewalks, street crossings, intersections, shared use paths, and recreational pedestrian trails. (Out of print, available online only)
See also Transmittal Memorandum and Errata Sheet.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, as amended
The ADA recognizes and protects the civil rights of people with disabilities and is modeled after earlier landmark laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race and gender.
ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines
Accessibility guidelines for buildings.
Access Board Outdoor Developed Areas Guidelines
Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Standards for Outdoor Developed Areas, including trails, picnic and camping areas, and beach access routes.
US Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines
The U.S. Forest Service has developed accessibility guidelines to provide guidance for the agency to maximize accessibility while at the same time recognizing and protecting the unique characteristics of the natural setting of outdoor recreation areas and hiker/pedestrian trails. These guidelines apply to new or reconstructed areas within the National Forest System.