Analysis: Chapter T1

This section of the preamble contains a summary of the proposed accessibility guidelines for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, beach access routes, and picnic and camping facilities. The text of the proposed rule follows this section.

Chapter T1: Application and Administration

This chapter states general principles that recognize the purpose of the guidelines (T101), modification and waivers (T102), conventions (T103), and definitions (T104).

T102 Modifications and Waivers

The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) authorizes certain agencies to grant a modification or waiver from the scoping and technical provisions upon a case-by-case determination.

T103 Conventions

All dimensions not stated as a “maximum” or “minimum” are absolute and are subject to conventional industry tolerances except where a range is provided. Rules are provided for calculations of percentages.

T104 Definitions

Definitions for “alterations” and “facility” have been added by the Board to this proposed rule and are based on definitions in the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines issued in 2004. The other definitions are from the regulatory negotiation committee’s report.

The definition of “beach access route” and “designated trailhead”, “outdoor recreation access route”, and “tread width” are included as a part of the final report.

The term “beach access route” is defined as a continuous unobstructed path designated for pedestrian use that crosses the surface of the beach. Beaches can be found in three general aquatic environments: coastal areas, along rivers, and along lakes and ponds. Although the term “beach” is not defined, the committee broadly considered this to include designated areas along a shore of a body of water providing pedestrian entry for the purposes of water play, swimming, or other water shoreline activities. A beach access route is a designated path and different from an area where entry into the water is possible, but not provided.

A beach access route is a pathway over the surface of the beach itself, not the route leading to the edge of the beach surface. When a beach is fronted by a park or other outdoor developed area, the route over the surface to the edge and beginning of the beach surface may be considered an outdoor recreation access route addressed by section T204.

A “designated trailhead” is defined as a designated point of access that may contain parking areas, information kiosks, restrooms, water hydrants, and may be reached by vehicular or pedestrian access. A designated trailhead is a “point of access” to a trail intended for public use where information may be provided. The designated trailhead may include a vehicle parking area for the public to access the trail or may connect from a sidewalk or from a street or road in an area where pedestrian access from a nearby neighborhood may be expected. It does not include a junction between trails where there is no other access or a location where a trail crosses a road and public access from the road is not expected or is discouraged. It also does not include an access point not open to the public.

An “outdoor recreation access route” is a continuous unobstructed path designated for pedestrian use that connects accessible elements within a picnic area, camping area, or designated trailhead.

The term “trail” is defined as a route that is designed, constructed, or designated for recreational pedestrian use or provided as a pedestrian alternative to vehicular routes within a transportation system.

A trail designed, constructed, or designated for pedestrian use may also have other uses, such as bicycling or in-line skating. It is recognized that pedestrians use all trails. However, these guidelines apply only to trails where travel on foot is one of the designated uses for which the trail was created. For example, a trail designated for mountain biking will not be considered a “pedestrian trail” whether or not pedestrians actually use the trail. However, a multi-use trail specifically designed and designated for hiking and bicycling would be considered a pedestrian trail. Trails include, but are not limited to, a trail through a forested park, a shared-use path, or a back country trail. Trails do not include pathways such as sidewalks, pathways in amusement parks, commercial theme parks, carnivals, or between buildings on college campuses. These exterior accessible routes are already covered by the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines issued in 2004.

The accessibility guidelines for trails apply to those which are designed and constructed for pedestrian use. These guidelines are not applicable to trails primarily designed and constructed for recreational use by equestrians, mountain bicyclists, snowmobile users, or off-road vehicle (ORV) users, even if pedestrians may occasionally use the same trails. People use these categories of trails by means of transportation other than foot travel or personal mobility device. Design and construction requirements for equestrians, mountain bikes, ORVs, and snowmobiles are based on the specific requirements for the intended mode of transportation. For the safety of trail users, pedestrian use may not always be permitted on these trails in order to minimize conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreation. These trails do not preclude use by a person with a disability since it is planned that all trail users would be using the one or more alternative means of transportation for which the trail is designed and constructed. The design and construction of pedestrian trails without consideration of these proposed guidelines, by contrast, could present barriers to some trail users because the intended use is by foot or personal mobility device. For these reasons, the committee intentionally limited the application of the proposed guidelines to pedestrian use trails.

The definition used in these proposed guidelines is not the only definition used by trail designers and managers. Rather, it was developed to specifically define the scope of these guidelines. Additionally, it is intended that trails and side trails leading to elements related to the trail, such as campsites and restrooms, should meet the accessibility guidelines for trails, not outdoor recreation access routes.

The term “tread width” is defined as the width of the usable trail tread measured perpendicular to the direction of travel and on or parallel to the surface of the usable trail tread. The minimum clear tread width is the narrowest measurement on the usable trail tread with respect to a specific trail segment. Clear tread width differs from clear width in that the latter is the amount of land potentially available for the trail.