U.S. Access Board Issues Final Rule on Public Right-of-Way Accessibility Guidelines

The Access Board has published new guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) that address access to sidewalks and streets, crosswalks, curb ramps, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, and other components of public rights-of-way.

These guidelines also review shared use paths, which are designed primarily for use by bicyclists and pedestrians for transportation and recreation purposes.

For purely recreational trails for pedestrian use:

  • Outdoor Developed Areas: The U.S. Access Board developed standards for Outdoor Developed Areas, see www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/recreation-facilities/outdoor-developed-areas. These standards apply to outdoor facilities (e.g., camping or picnic facilities, or beach access routes) constructed or altered by Federal agencies or by non-Federal entities constructing facilities on Federal land on behalf of Federal agencies pursuant to a concession contract, partnership agreement, or similar arrangement.

o Federal Lands and Federal Agencies (except Forest Service): Use the Access Board’s Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas, published on September 26, 2013, under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) of 1968.

o Forest Service: Use the Forest Service Trails Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG) and Accessibility Guidebook on Outdoor Recreation and Trails. These guidelines comply with the Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas. The Forest Service guidelines are legally enforceable on National Forest System lands. Although the guidelines are official policy only for the Forest Service, they contain useful concepts to help other agencies and organizations maximize accessibility without changing the setting in outdoor recreation areas and on trails. The Accessibility Guidebook on Outdoor Recreation and Trails provides “how-to” information to integrate accessibility into outdoor recreation site and trail projects. See the Implementation Process Flowchart.

o Projects constructed with or without Federal-aid funding by a State or local government, or a private entity, and not located on Federal lands: There are no officially proposed guidelines for outdoor developed areas under the ADA. However, in the absence of a standard, accessibility must still be provided under the ADA. The Access Board’s Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas and the Forest Service Trails Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG) and Accessibility Guidebook on Outdoor Recreation and Trails are practices that State and local governments and private entities may use.

o The Outdoor Developed Areas guidelines are not appropriate for trails intended for transportation purposes. Project managers should use the PROWAG Shared Use Paths guidelines. See https://www.access-board.gov/prowag/.

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