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The Access Board requested public comment by June 27, 2011 on Proposed Rulemaking to develop accessibility guidelines for shared use paths.


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arrow Read the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as published in the Federal Register March 28, 2011

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Shared Use Path Accessibility Guidelines to be considered by Access Board


Published in the Federal Register, Vol. 76, No. 59 - Monday, March 28, 2011 - Page 17064

Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the U.S. Access Board: Shared Use Path Accessibility Guidelines

The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) is issuing this Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to develop accessibility guidelines for shared use paths. Shared use paths are designed for both transportation and recreation purposes and are used by pedestrians, bicyclists, skaters, equestrians, and other users. The guidelines will include technical provisions for making newly constructed and altered shared use paths covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (ABA) accessible to persons with disabilities.

DATES: Submit comments by June 27, 2011

photo of wheelchair

The primary users of shared use paths are bicyclists and pedestrians

Through this ANPRM, the Access Board seeks input on the proposed guidelines and asks several questions:


Question 1. Does the draft definition of "shared use path" sufficiently distinguish these paths from trails and sidewalks? If not, please provide any recommendations that would strengthen this distinction.

Question 2. What technical provisions, if any, should apply where separate unpaved paths are provided for equestrian use?

Question 3. Are there conditions where a 5 percent maximum grade cannot be achieved on a newly constructed shared use path? If so, the Board is interested in a description of the specific conditions that might prevent compliance.

Question 4. Should the Board provide guidance on how to address steeper segments of shared use paths when they cannot be avoided? For example, would providing space for bicyclists or wheelchair users to move off of the shared use path in order to avoid conflict with other traffic be helpful?

Question 5. What would be considered a sufficient separation between a shared use path and a roadway, or outside border of a roadway, where it may not be necessary for the shared use path to follow the grade of the roadway?

Question 6. Are there conditions where cross slope steeper than 2 percent is necessary in new construction?

Question 7. Is there a need to provide additional warnings or information to bicyclists regarding potential conflicts with other shared use paths users, including pedestrians with disabilities?

Question 8. What technical provisions should apply where the shared use path overlaps a trail or sidewalk?

Question 9. Are different technical provisions needed when applying the draft technical provisions for shared use paths that ``connect'' shared use paths together or with other pedestrian routes (e.g., sidewalks, trails, accessible routes)? If so, please provide any additional information or recommendations.

Question 10. Should the accessibility guidelines for shared use paths be included in the same document as the accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way?

Question 11. Are there other issues that need to be addressed by the accessibility guidelines for shared use paths? If so, please provide specific information on any additional areas that should be addressed in the guidelines.

Key Differences Between Shared Use Paths, Trails, Sidewalks, and Accessible Routes

Shared use paths are a type of trail designed to be part of a transportation system, providing off-road routes for a variety of users. The primary users of shared use paths are bicyclists and pedestrians, including pedestrians using mobility devices such as manual or motorized wheelchairs. While they may coincidently provide a recreational experience, shared use paths differ from other types of trails with their transportation focus and serving as a supplement to on-road bike lanes, shared roadways, bike boulevards, and paved shoulders. They may extend or complement a roadway network. Shared use path design is similar to roadway design but on a smaller scale and for lower speeds. Whether located within a highway right-of-way, provided along a riverbank, or established over natural terrain within an independent right-of-way, shared use paths differ from sidewalks and trails in that they are primarily designed for bicyclists and others for transportation purposes such as commuting to work. Trails, on the other hand, are designed primarily for recreational purposes. Since they are not designed with a transportation focus, they are typically not parallel to a roadway.

Trails are pedestrian routes developed primarily for outdoor recreational purposes and do not connect elements, spaces, or facilities within a site. Trails are largely designed for pedestrians and other users to ``experience'' the outdoors and may be used by a variety of users, but they are not designed for transportation purposes.

Sidewalks are located in a public right-of-way and typically are parallel to a roadway. Consequently, sidewalk grades (running slopes) must be generally consistent with roadway grades so that they fit into the right-of-way. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrians and are not designed for bicycles or other recreational purposes.

Like all of the Board's accessibility guidelines, the guidelines for shared use paths will apply to newly constructed and altered facilities. When the Department of Justice initiates rulemaking to adopt the shared use path accessibility guidelines as accessibility standards, the DOJ will address how program accessibility and barrier removal apply to existing shared use paths that are not altered. Comments concerning shared use paths that are not altered should be directed to the Department of Justice when it initiates rulemaking to adopt the shared use path accessibility guidelines as accessibility standards.


TO SUBMIT COMMENTS: Submit comments by any of the following methods:

All comments received will be posted without change to, including any personal information provided.


Peggy H. Greenwell, Office of Technical and Information Services, Access Board, 1331 F Street, NW., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004-1111. Telephone number: 202-272-0017 (voice); 202-272-0082 (TTY).
Electronic mail address:

arrow See full details of the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as published in the Federal Register March 28, 2011


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