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Proposed pedestrian access routes in public rights-of-way

Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way (359 kb) released for public comment. The Board will prepare a proposed rule based on its review of the comments received. The proposed rule will also be made available for public comment.

From the Access Board, Washington, DC (June 17, 2002)

Under the ADA, the Access Board has developed and continues to maintain design guidelines for accessible buildings and facilities known as the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG). ADAAG covers a wide variety of facilities and establishes minimum requirements for new construction and alterations. The Board maintains a similar responsibility for accessibility guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA). The Board's aim is to ensure that access for persons with disabilities is provided wherever a pedestrian way is newly built or altered, and that the same degree of convenience, connection, and safety afforded the public generally is available to pedestrians with disabilities. The guidelines would not require alterations to existing public rights-of-way, but would apply where a pedestrian route or facility is altered as part of a planned project to improve existing public rights-of-way.

Accessible Elements and Spaces: Scoping and Technical Requirements (1102.3 - 1111)
Alternate Circulation Path (1102.3, 1111)

The draft guidelines address construction within public rights-of-way and call for alternate circulation paths where pedestrian access routes are temporarily blocked by construction, alteration, maintenance, or other temporary conditions. Technical specifications address the minimum clear width (36 inches), location (on the same side of the street parallel to the disrupted pedestrian access route), hazardous protruding objects, and criteria for signs and barriers. Construction at public rights-of-way can be particularly hazardous to people with visual or mobility impairments if the site is not adequately protected with a barrier or barricade. In particular, tape or a series of widely spaced traffic cones placed around a construction site may not be detected by some pedestrians. Such markings do not provide sufficient cues to enable a blind pedestrian to anticipate a hazard, nor do they provide an edge along which to travel around an obstruction. Barriers would be required to be detectable, with edge protection and railings.

The requirements for barriers are based on proposed MUTCD standards (Chapter 6). Pedestrian Access Route (1102.4, 1103) "Pedestrian Access Route" is a key term that refers to the portion of the public right-of-way that serves as an accessible route. Since the technical requirements for this route are unique to public rights-of-way, the advisory committee wanted to use a term distinct from "accessible route," which is used by ADAAG in referring to routes on sites. In many cases, the pedestrian access route would not have to encompass the full width of sidewalks and other pedestrian ways. Thus, the term is used to refer to the compliant portion which, in effect, provides a continuous accessible means of passage.

In new construction, the pedestrian access route would comprise a continuous, unobstructed path connecting to all elements and spaces required to be accessible. In an alteration or addition, the requirements for pedestrian access routes would apply only to new or altered portions of public rights-of-way. As a result, there may be breaks in continuity where the pedestrian access route is interrupted by portions of the existing pedestrian network which have not yet been altered. In such cases, the new or altered portions would be required to blend smoothly with the existing pedestrian network.

Specifications for pedestrian access routes address clear width, cross slope, grade, surface, changes in level, and other characteristics. The pedestrian access route may comprise sidewalks and walking surfaces, curb ramps and ramps, blended transitions, crosswalks, elevators, and other elements recognized by the guidelines.

Download the complete draft guidelines (pdf 359 kb)

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