Guide

  • Key Differences Between Routes
  • Notification Forms
    • Entire Trail Exemption Form [1017.2, Exception 2]
    • Entire Beach Access Route Exemption Form [1018.2, Exception 2]

Key Differences Between Routes

Determining the type of route required is often a challenging exercise. The following descriptions and review of the technical requirements for each type of route provides a quick reference to aid with this process.

Accessible Routes—An accessible route is a continuous, unobstructed path that connects all accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility. Interior accessible routes may include corridors, floors, ramps, elevators, lifts, and clear floor space at fixtures. Exterior accessible routes may include accessible parking space access aisles, curb ramps, crosswalks at vehicular ways, walks, ramps, and platform lifts.

Pedestrian Access Routes—A pedestrian access route, often called a sidewalk, is located in a public right-of-way and typically is parallel to a roadway. Consequently, sidewalk grades (running slopes) must generally be consistent with roadway grades so that they fit into the right-of-way. Sidewalks are designed for pedestrian transportation and are not designed for bicycles or other recreational purposes.

Pedestrian Trails—A trail typically is not parallel to a roadway and is designed primarily for recreational purposes. Trails are not necessarily part of an infrastructure connecting elements or facilities, but typically are designed to provide a recreational experience. Trails may also be used by multiple types of users, but most are not designed for bicycles, nor do they have a transportation purpose.

Outdoor Recreation Access Routes—An outdoor recreation access route (ORAR) is a continuous, unobstructed path that is intended for pedestrian use and that connects accessible elements, spaces, and facilities within camping and picnic facilities and at viewing areas and trailheads only. ORARs cannot be used at other types of facilities, such as educational campuses, office parks, or theme parks.

Beach Access Routes—A beach access route is a continuous, unobstructed path that crosses the surface of the beach to allow pedestrians to play, swim, or participate in other beach-, shoreline-, or water-related activities. A beach access route may be a permanent or removable route. Beach access routes typically coincide with or are located in the same general area as pedestrian access points to the beach. Beach access routes are not required where pedestrian access to the beach is not permitted.

Shared-Use Paths—A shared-use path is part of a transportation system in a public right-of-way that provides off-road routes for a variety of users. Even where the primary users may be bicyclists, skaters, or equestrians, shared-use paths typically are designed to serve pedestrians, including people using mobility devices such as manual or motorized wheelchairs. In addition to transportation uses, shared-use paths often provide recreational experiences. They may extend or complement a roadway network. For example, they may supplement on-road bike lanes, shared roadways, bike boulevards, and paved shoulders. 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 designed for a variety of users and serve both recreational and transportation purposes.

The following table highlights the key elements of design for different route types.

Route Characteristics 
  Pedestrian Route Type  Key Elements of Design Intent
Accessible route (AR) Connects accessible elements and spaces of a building or facility on a site
Sidewalk—pedestrian access route (PAR)

Parallel to roadway

Designed for pedestrians (not bicycles)

Sometimes part of the roadway

Trail 

Designed for the “recreation experience”

Does not connect elements and spaces on a site

Generally includes a trailhead

Has limited to no transportation function

Outdoor recreation access route (ORAR)  Connects outdoor constructed features and spaces within picnic and camping facilities, viewing areas, and trailheads only 
Beach access route (BAR) 

Crosses the surface of the beach to the shoreline

Coincides with or is located in the same general area as pedestrian access points to the beach

Shared-use path (SUP)

Intended for multi-use

Bicycle/transportation focus

Machined, layered surface (improved)

Located in either an “independent corridor” or public right-of-way



The following tables highlight the technical requirements for slope, width, and surface for different route types.

 

Technical Requirements for Slope  
If Running Slope of Segment is Steeper Than  But Running Slope of Segment is Not Steeper Than Maximum Length of Segment  Cross Slope
Trail
0:00 (0%)  1:20 (5%) any length

Concrete, asphalt, boards—1:48 (2%)

All other surfaces when necessary for drainage —1:20 (5%)



1:20 (5%) 1:12 (8.33%) 200 feet
1:12 (8.33%) 1:10 (10%) 30 feet
1:10 (10%) 1:8 (12%) 10 feet
ORAR
0:00 (0%) 1:20 (5%) any length

Concrete, asphalt, boards—1:48 (2%)

All other surfaces when necessary for drainage —1:20 (5%)

1:20 (5%) 1:12 (8.33%) 50 feet
1:12 (8.33%) 1:10 (10%) 30 feet
BAR
0:00 (0%) 1:20 (5%) any length

Concrete, asphalt, boards—1:48 (2%)

All other surfaces when necessary for drainage —1:20 (5%)

1:20 (5%) 1:12 (8.33%) 50 feet
1:12 (8.33%) 1:10 (10%) 30 feet

 

Technical Requirements for Width and Surface  
   Minimum Width  Surface 
AR 36 inches Firm, Stable, Slip Resistant
PAR 48 inches Firm, Stable, Slip Resistant
Trail 36 inches Firm and Stable
ORAR 36 inches Firm and Stable
BAR 60 inches Firm and Stable
SUP No requirement Firm, Stable, Slip Resistant

 

 

Notification Forms

Documentation is required where a condition for exception prohibits full compliance with a specific technical requirement. The documentation must include the reason that full compliance could not be achieved and should be retained with the project records. In addition to the reason for the exception, documentation should include the date the decision was made and the names and positions of the individuals making the decision.

Where extreme or numerous exceptions make it impracticable to provide a newly constructed or altered trail or beach access route that meets the technical requirements, the standards provide an exemption for the entire trail or beach access route (see 1017.1, exception 2 and 1018.1, exception 2). In these rare cases, an explanation of the conditions that resulted in the determination that it was impracticable for the entire trail or beach access route to comply must be recorded and the documentation must be retained with the records for that project. A copy must also be sent to the Access Board (see F201.4.1).

The Access Board has developed sample notification forms with assistance from the accessibility program managers for the Federal land management agencies. These forms can be used to notify the Access Board when an entire trail or beach access route is exempted. The Access Board plans to monitor situations where the exceptions for trails and beach access routes result in exempting an entire trail or beach access route. The notification forms do not require approval or any other action on the part of the Access Board or the Federal agency. The Access Board will use the information provided by the Federal agencies to develop additional guidance on exempting entire trails and beach access routes. Federal agencies are encouraged to seek technical assistance from the Access Board at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. when considering exempting an entire trail or beach access route.

 

More Information

Copies of the final rule for federal outdoor developed areas and technical assistance is available from the U.S. Access Board at www.access-board.gov or by calling (800) 872–2253 (voice) or (800) 993–2822 (TTY).