Section-by-Section Analysis

The proposed guidelines consist of four chapters. Chapter R1 addresses the application and administration of the proposed guidelines. Chapter R2 contains scoping requirements. Chapter R3 contains technical requirements. Chapter R4 contains supplementary technical requirements, which are the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines with a few exceptions. The sections in each chapter are discussed below. Sections marked as "advisory" contain advisory information related to the preceding section. Advisory sections do not establish mandatory requirements. Some advisory sections reference related mandatory requirements to alert readers about those requirements.

The Access Board is committed to writing guidelines that are clear, concise, and easy to understand so that persons who use the guidelines know what is required. If any of the proposed guidelines are ambiguous or not clear, point out the problematic language in your comments so it can be improved in the final guidelines.

Chapter R1: Application and Administration

R101 Purpose

The proposed guidelines contain scoping and technical requirements to ensure that facilities for pedestrian circulation and use located in the public right-of-way are readily accessible to and usable by pedestrians with disabilities. When the guidelines are adopted, with or without additions and modifications, as accessibility standards in regulations issued by other federal agencies implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, and the Architectural Barriers Act, compliance with the accessibility standards is mandatory.

The proposed guidelines do not address existing facilities unless they are included within the scope of an alteration to an existing facility undertaken at the discretion of a covered entity. The Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act contain requirements for state and local governments regarding program accessibility and existing facilities. See 28 CFR 35.150. The Department of Transportation regulations implementing Section 504 also contain requirements for recipients of federal financial assistance from the Department regarding compliance planning. See 49 CFR 27.11 (c). As discussed above under the Major Issues, transportation officials who commented on the 2002 draft guidelines expressed concern about existing facilities that are not altered. When the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation conduct rulemaking to include accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504, they will address the application of the accessibility standards to existing facilities that are not altered. Comments concerning existing facilities that are not altered should be directed to the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation when they conduct rulemaking to include accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504.

R102 Equivalent Facilitation

The use of alternative designs, products, or technologies that result in substantially equivalent or greater accessibility and usability than the proposed guidelines is permitted.

R103 Conventions

Conventional industry tolerances apply where dimensions are not stated as a range. Where the required number of accessible facilities or elements is based on ratios or percentages and remainders or fractions result, the next greater whole number is required. Where the required size or dimension of a facility or element is based on ratios or percentages, rounding down for values less than one half is permitted. Measurements are stated in metric and U.S. customary units, and each system of measurement is to be used independently of the other.

R104 Referenced Standards

The proposed guidelines incorporate by reference certain standards in the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD). The referenced MUTCD standards are discussed below under the relevant requirements regarding the provision of alternate pedestrian access routes when a pedestrian circulation path is temporarily closed, the provision of accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons, and pedestrian signal phase timing. The MUTCD is available on the Federal Highway Administration website at: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov.

R105 Definitions

The proposed guidelines incorporate the MUTCD definitions for the following terms: highway, intersection, island, median, pedestrian, roundabout, sidewalk, splitter island, and street. The proposed guidelines define the following terms: accessible, alteration, blended transition, cross slope, curb line, curb ramp, element, facility, grade break, operable part, pedestrian access route, pedestrian circulation path, public right-of-way, qualified historic facility, running slope, and vertical surface discontinuities. These definitions are discussed in the sections where the terms are used. Collegiate dictionaries are used to determine the meaning of terms that are not defined in the proposed guidelines, referenced MUTCD standards, or regulations issued by federal agencies that adopt the proposed guidelines as accessibility standards. Singular and plural words, terms, and phrases are used interchangeably.

Chapter R2: Scoping Requirements

Scoping requirements specify what pedestrian facilities must comply with the proposed guidelines. Some of the scoping requirements are triggered where certain pedestrian facilities are provided such as pedestrian signals (see R209), street furniture (see R212), transit stops and transit shelters (see R213), on-street parking (see R214), and passenger loading zones (see R215). The scoping requirements reference the technical requirements that each pedestrian facility must comply with in order to be considered accessible. The technical requirements are discussed in Chapters R3 and R4.

R201 Application

The proposed guidelines apply to newly constructed facilities, altered portions of existing facilities, and elements added to existing facilities for pedestrian circulation and use located in the public right-of-way. The proposed guidelines apply to both permanent and temporary facilities in the public right-of-way. An advisory section provides examples of temporary facilities in the public right-of-way that are covered by the scoping requirements (e.g., temporary pedestrian circulation routes around work zones and portable public toilets).

Buildings and structures in the public right-of-way that are not covered by the proposed guidelines must comply with the applicable requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. An advisory section provides examples of buildings and structures in the public right-of-way that are not covered by the proposed guidelines and must comply with the applicable requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines (e.g., towers and temporary performance stages and reviewing stands).

R202 Alterations and Elements Added to Existing Facilities

The proposed guidelines apply to alterations and elements added to existing facilities. Alterations are changes to an existing facility that affect or could affect pedestrian access, circulation, or use (see R105.5). Alterations include, but are not limited to, resurfacing, rehabilitation, reconstruction, historic restoration, or changes or rearrangement of structural parts or elements of a facility. The Department of Justice and Department of Transportation may provide guidance on the meaning of the word "resurfacing" when they conduct rulemaking to include accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504. Comments requesting guidance on the meaning of the term "resurfacing" should be directed to the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation when they conduct rulemaking to include accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504.

Where elements are altered or added to existing facilities but the pedestrian circulation path to the altered or added elements is not altered, the pedestrian circulation path is not required to comply with the proposed requirements for pedestrian access routes. For example, if a new bench is installed on an existing sidewalk that has a cross slope exceeding 2 percent, the sidewalk is not required to be altered to reduce the cross slope because the bench is installed on the sidewalk. Advisory information recommends that, where possible, added elements should be located on an existing pedestrian access route. This provision is based on similar provisions in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines which do not require the circulation path to altered elements or spaces to comply with the requirements for accessible routes where the circulation path to the altered elements or spaces is not altered (see 202.3, Exception 1; and F202.3, Exception 1).

Where existing physical constraints make it impractical for altered elements, spaces, or facilities to fully comply with new construction requirements, compliance is required to the extent practicable within the scope of the project. Existing physical constraints include, but are not limited to, underlying terrain, right-of-way availability, underground structures, adjacent developed facilities, drainage, or the presence of a notable natural or historic feature.

The 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines (see 202.4 and F202.4) and the Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (see 28 CFR 35.151 (b)) include an additional requirement for facilities on sites whereby an alteration that affects or could affect the usability of or access to an area containing a "primary function" must be made so as to ensure that, to the maximum extent feasible, the "path of travel" to the altered area is accessible, unless the additional cost and scope of the alterations to provide an accessible "path of travel" are disproportionate to the cost of the alteration to the "primary function" area.

The Department of Justice regulations define the terms "primary function" and "path of travel." See 28 CFR 35.151 (b) (4) (i) and (ii). According to the Department of Justice regulations, a "primary function" is a major activity for which the facility is intended. "Primary function" areas include the dining area of a cafeteria, the meeting rooms in a conference center, as well as offices and other work areas in which the activities of the public entity using the facility are carried out. Mechanical rooms, boiler rooms, supply storage rooms, employee lounges or locker rooms, janitorial closets, entrances, and corridors are not "primary function" areas. Restrooms are not "primary function" areas unless the provision of restrooms is a primary purpose of the area (e.g., restrooms in highway rest stops). Alterations to windows, hardware, controls, electrical outlets, and signage are not alterations that affect the usability of or access to a "primary function" area. The Department of Justice regulations further state that a "path of travel" includes a continuous, unobstructed way of pedestrian passage by means of which the altered area may be approached, entered, and exited, and which connects the altered area with an exterior approach (including sidewalks, streets, and parking areas), an entrance to the facility, and other parts of the facility. An accessible "path of travel" may consist of walks and sidewalks; curb ramps and other interior or exterior pedestrian ramps; clear floor paths through lobbies, corridors, rooms, and other improved areas; parking access aisles; elevators and lifts; or a combination of these elements; and also includes the restrooms, telephones, and drinking fountains serving the altered area.

The Department of Justice regulations deem the additional cost of alterations to provide an accessible "path of travel" to the altered area disproportionate when it exceeds 20 percent of the cost of the alteration to the "primary function" area. See 28 CFR 35.151 (b) (4) (iii). When the additional cost of alterations to provide an accessible "path of travel" to the altered area is disproportionate, the Department of Justice regulations require the "path of travel" to be made accessible to the extent that it can be made accessible without incurring disproportionate costs (i.e., an amount equal to 20 percent of the cost of the alteration to the "primary function" area must be expended to provide an accessible "path of travel" to the altered area). See 28 CFR 35.151 (b) (4) (iv). A similar requirement is not included in the proposed guidelines because of the uncertainty how the terms "primary function" and "path of travel" as defined in the Department of Justice regulations for facilities on sites would apply to pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. Revising the definitions of "primary function" and "path of travel" to apply to pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way will not necessarily result in additional accessibility. For example, if an area that contains a "primary function" is defined to include sidewalks, an accessible "path of travel" would be required to the altered sidewalks, which in effect would require the cost and scope of planned sidewalk alteration projects to be increased by 20 percent. Sidewalk alteration projects can be planned to take into account the additional 20 percent scope and cost of work. For example, if a 5 block sidewalk alteration project would be planned in the absence of a requirement for an accessible "path of travel" to the altered sidewalks, imposing a requirement for an accessible "path of travel" to the altered sidewalks could result in a 4 block sidewalk alteration project being planned and the additional 20 percent scope and cost of work would result in a 5 block sidewalk alteration project.

Transitional segments of pedestrian access routes must connect to unaltered segments of existing pedestrian circulation paths and comply with the technical requirements for pedestrian access routes to the extent practicable. Alterations must not decrease or have the effect of decreasing the accessibility of a facility or an accessible connection to an adjacent building or site below the requirements for new construction in effect at the time of the alteration.

Where the State Historic Preservation Officer or Advisory Council on Historic Preservation determines that compliance with a requirement would threaten or destroy historically significant features of a qualified historic facility, compliance is required to the extent that it does not threaten or destroy historically significant features of the facility. A qualified historic facility is a facility that is listed in or is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, or is designated as historic under state or local law (see R105.5)

R203 Machinery Spaces

Vaults, tunnels, and other spaces used by service personnel only are not required to comply with the proposed guidelines.

R204 Pedestrian Access Routes

A pedestrian access route is a continuous and unobstructed path of travel provided for pedestrians with disabilities within or coinciding with a pedestrian circulation path in the public right-of-way (see R105.5). Pedestrian access routes in the public right-of-way ensure that the transportation network used by pedestrians is accessible to pedestrians with disabilities. Pedestrian access routes in the public right-of-way are analogous to accessible routes on sites in that they connect to accessible elements, spaces, and facilities in the public right-of-way, including accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons, accessible street furniture, accessible transit stops and transit shelters, accessible on-street parking spaces and parking meters and parking pay stations serving those parking spaces, and accessible passenger loading zones. Pedestrian access routes in the public right-of-way also connect to accessible routes at building and facility site arrival points.27

Pedestrian access routes must be provided within:

  • Sidewalks and other pedestrian circulation paths located in the public right-of-way;
  • Pedestrian street crossings and at-grade rail crossings, including medians and pedestrian refuge islands; and
  • Overpasses, underpasses, bridges, and similar structures that contain pedestrian circulation paths.

Where an overpass, underpass, bridge, or similar structure is designed for pedestrian use only and the approach slope to the structure exceeds 5 percent, a ramp, elevator, limited use/limited application elevator, or platform lift must be provided. Elevators and platform lifts must be unlocked during the operating hours of the facility served.

An advisory section notes that the Federal Highway Administration has issued guidance on the obligations of state and local governments to keep pedestrian access routes open and usable throughout the year, including snow and debris removal.

R205 Alternate Pedestrian Access Routes

Alternate pedestrian access routes must be provided when a pedestrian circulation path is temporarily closed by construction, alterations, maintenance operations, or other conditions. The alternate pedestrian access route must comply with the referenced MUTCD standards. The MUTCD standards require alternate pedestrian routes to be accessible and detectable, including warning pedestrians who are blind or have low vision about sidewalk closures. Proximity-actuated audible signs are a preferred means to warn pedestrians who are blind or have low vision about sidewalk closures.

R206 Pedestrian Street Crossings

Pedestrian street crossings must comply with technical requirements in Chapter R3 that reference MUTCD standards for pedestrian signal phase timing. The technical requirements in Chapter R3 also include requirements for roundabouts and multi-lane channelized turn lanes.

R207 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions

Curb ramps, blended transitions, or a combination of curb ramps and blended transitions must connect the pedestrian access routes at each pedestrian street crossing. Curb ramps and blended transitions must be wholly contained within the pedestrian street crossings served. Typically, two curb ramps must be provided at each street corner. In alterations where existing physical constraints prevent two curb ramps from being installed at a street corner, a single diagonal curb ramp is permitted at the corner.

R208 Detectable Warning Surfaces

Detectable warning surfaces consist of small truncated domes built in or applied to a walking surface that are detectable underfoot. On pedestrian access routes, detectable warning surfaces indicate the boundary between a pedestrian route and a vehicular route where there is a flush rather than a curbed connection for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. Detectable warning surfaces are not intended to provide wayfinding for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. An advisory section provides information on streetscape designs that can make wayfinding easier. Detectable warning surfaces must be provided at the following locations on pedestrian access routes and at transit stops:

  • Curb ramps and blended transitions at pedestrian street crossings;
  • Pedestrian refuge islands;
  • Pedestrian at-grade rail crossings not located within a street or highway;
  • Boarding platforms at transit stops for buses and rail vehicles where the edges of the boarding platform are not protected by screens or guards; and
  • Boarding and alighting areas at sidewalk or street level transit stops for rail vehicles where the side of the boarding and alighting areas facing the rail vehicles is not protected by screens or guards.

Detectable warning surfaces are not required at pedestrian refuge islands that are cut-through at street level and are less than 1.8 meters (6 feet) in length in the direction of pedestrian travel because detectable warning surfaces must extend 610 millimeters (2 feet) minimum on each side of the island and be separated by a 610 millimeters (2 feet) minimum length of island without detectable warning surfaces (see R305.1.4 and R305.2.4). Installing detectable warning surfaces at cut-through pedestrian islands that are less than 1.8 meters (6 feet) in length would compromise the effectiveness of detectable warning surfaces. An advisory section recommends that where a cut-through pedestrian island is less than 1.8 meters (6 feet) in length and the pedestrian street crossing is signalized, the signal should be timed for a complete crossing of the street.

Comments from Individuals Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

The National Federation of the Blind was a member of the advisory committee that recommended the proposed guidelines, but filed a minority report recommending detectable warning surfaces should be required only on curb ramps with slopes of 6.6 percent or less, and at medians and pedestrian refuge islands. Comments on the 2002 draft guidelines from individuals who identified themselves as blind or having low vision supported requiring detectable warning surfaces on all curb ramps by a margin of 2:1.

Detectable Warning Surfaces on Curb Ramps

When the Access Board issued the 1991 ADAAG, the guidelines contained a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps. The requirement was temporarily suspended between 1994 and 2001 pending additional research and review of issues relating to requirement. The Access Board deferred addressing detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines pending completion of the guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. As a result of these actions, there are different requirements for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in the accessibility standards included the regulations issued by the Department of Justice implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and by the Department of Transportation implementing Section 504.

When the Department of Justice initially issued regulations in 1991 implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the regulations required state and local governments to use accessibility standards (hereinafter referred to as the "DOJ 1991 Standards") that included the 1991 ADAAG which contained a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps, or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) which did not contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps.28 When the Department of Justice adopted the DOJ 2010 Standards, those standards included the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines which do not contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps.

The Department of Transportation regulations implementing Section 504 require state and local governments that receive federal financial assistance directly or indirectly from the Department to use accessibility standards that include the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines, as modified by the Department, or UFAS. See 49 CFR 27.3 (b). The Department of Transportation modified the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines by retaining certain requirements from the 1991 ADAAG, including the requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps. See 406.8 in Appendix A to 49 CFR part 37.

State and local transportation departments will be affected differently by the requirement in the proposed guidelines for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps depending on the accessibility standards that they use for curb ramps in the public right-of-way. The Access Board reviewed the standard drawings for the design of curb ramps on state transportation department websites and found that the transportation departments in all 50 states and the District of Columbia specify detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in the standard drawings.29 Most local transportation departments use standard drawings for the design of curb ramps that are consistent with the standard drawings maintained by their state transportation departments. These state and local transportation departments use either the DOJ 1991 Standards, which include the 1991 ADAAG requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps, or the Department of Transportation accessibility standards, which include the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines as modified by the Department to include the requirement from the 1991 ADAAG for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps.30

Governmental Units Affected

State and local transportation departments are divided into four groups for the purpose of evaluating the impacts of the requirement in the proposed guidelines for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps:

  • Group 1 consists of state and local transportation departments that use UFAS for curb ramps as currently permitted by the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504. UFAS did not contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps. The Access Board is not aware of any state or local transportation departments that use UFAS. The Department of Justice regulations do not permit the use of UFAS on or after March 15, 2012. See 28 CFR 35.151 (c) (3). Thus, Group 1 will cease to exist as of March 15, 2012, and any state and local transportation departments currently in Group 1 will fall into one of the other groups.

Question 4. The Access Board seeks information on whether any state and local transportation departments currently use UFAS for curb ramps in the public right-of-way.

    • Group 2 consists of state and local transportation departments that receive federal financial assistance directly or indirectly from the Department of Transportation. State and local transportation departments in Group 2 are required to comply with the accessibility standards in the Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Department of Transportation regulations implementing Section 504. Where the requirements in the accessibility standards in the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation regulations differ, the more stringent requirement must be used. Excluding any state and local transportation departments in Group 1, state and local transportation departments in Group 2 must comply with the requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in the Department of Transportation regulations because it is the more stringent requirement. All state transportation departments and most local transportation departments are in Group 2 and specify detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in their standard drawings. The requirement in the proposed guidelines for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps will not have any impacts on state and local transportation departments in Group 2.

 

  • Group 3 consists of local transportation departments that do not receive federal financial assistance directly or indirectly from the Department of Transportation. Local transportation departments in Group 3 are required to comply only with the accessibility standards in the Department of Justice regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Excluding any local transportation departments in Group 1, local transportation departments in Group 3:
    • Used the DOJ 1991 Standards, which include the 1991 ADAAG and contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps, before September 15, 2010. See 28 CFR 35.151 (c) (1).
    • Are permitted to use the DOJ 1991 Standards, which include the 1991 ADAAG and contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps, or the DOJ 2010 Standards, which include the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines and do not contain a requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps, between September 15, 2010 and March 14, 2012. See 28 CFR 35.151 (c) (2).
    • Must use the DOJ 2010 Standards, which include the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines and do not contain a requirement for detectable warnings on curb ramps, on or after March 15, 2012. See 28 CFR 35.151 (c) (3).

    Thus, local transportation departments in Group 3 were required to provide detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps before September 15, 2010; may or may not be required to provide detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps between September 15, 2010 and March 14, 2012 depending on the accessibility standard they use (DOJ 1991 Standards or DOJ 2010 Standards); and are not required to provide detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps on or after March 15, 2012 pending the future adoption of accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way by the Department of Justice.

Question 5. The Access Board seeks information on whether local transportation departments in Group 3 will continue or discontinue providing detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps in the public right-of-way pending the future adoption of accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way by the Department of Justice.

  • Group 4 consists of state and local transportation departments that do not comply with accessibility standards for curb ramps in the public right-of-way. The Department of Justice and Federal Highway Administration have provided guidance on accessibility standards that apply to curb ramps in the public right-of-way, including the requirement for detectable warning surfaces.31 Despite the guidance provided by the Department of Justice and the Federal Highway Administration on the accessibility standards that apply to curb ramps in the public right-of-way, there may be state and local transportation departments that do not comply with the standards.

Question 6. Comments are requested on whether the future adoption of accessibility standards for pedestrian facilities in the public right of way by the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation in regulations implementing Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 will have a positive or negative effect, or no effect on the compliance rates of state and local transportation departments, particularly with respect to providing detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps.

Question 7. The Access Board seeks information on the number of curb ramps that are constructed or altered on an annual basis in the public right-of-way by state and local transportation departments.

Costs to Provide Detectable Warning Surfaces on Curb Ramps

Detectable warning surfaces are available in a variety of materials. The Volpe Center gathered data from local transportation departments and vendors on various detectable warning materials and estimated the costs of 8 square feet of the materials for a typical curb ramp as shown in the table below. The estimates do not include installation costs.

Detectable Warning Surfaces

Materials Costs for Typical Curb Ramp

Concrete pavers

$48 to $80

Brick pavers

$128

Polymer and composite materials

$120 to $200

Stainless steel or cast iron products

$240

Question 8. The Access Board seeks additional information on the costs for detectable warning materials (8 square feet) and installation of the materials on a typical curb ramp.

Detectable Warning Surfaces on Boarding Platforms Used by Buses and Rail Vehicles, and Boarding and Alighting Areas Used by Rail Vehicles

The 1991 ADAAG and 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines contain a requirement for detectable warning surfaces on rail platforms.32 The proposed guidelines adapt this requirement to transit stops in the public right-of-way, and require detectable warning surfaces on boarding platforms at transit stops for buses and rail vehicles (i.e., raised platforms used for level boarding by bus rapid transit systems and light rail systems) and at boarding and alighting areas at sidewalk or street level transit stops for rail vehicles. Detectable warning surfaces are not required where the edges of the boarding platform or the boarding and alighting areas facing the rail vehicles are protected by screens or guards.

Durability and Maintenance of Detectable Warning Surfaces

Transportation officials who commented on the 2002 draft guidelines expressed concern about the durability and maintenance of detectable warning surfaces. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has conducted two studies on the durability and maintenance of detectable warning surfaces. The first study was completed in 2005 and reviewed performance information submitted by state and local transportation departments.33 The performance information was limited in terms of the products reviewed and time period of review (about 2 years). The study noted that there were new promising detectable warning products on the market, and recommended that test methods be developed for evaluating the long-term performance and durability of the products. The second study was completed in 2010 and recommended procedures for testing and evaluating detectable warning products.34 The test methods can be used by state and local transportation departments to select detectable warning products that will provide long-term performance and durability under different environmental conditions. Many state and local transportation departments have evaluated and approved detectable warning products that are suited to their environments.

R209 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Pedestrian Pushbuttons

An accessible pedestrian signal and pedestrian pushbutton is an integrated device that communicates information about the WALK and DON'T WALK intervals at signalized intersections in non-visual formats (i.e., audible tones and vibrotactile surfaces) to pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. The pedestrian pushbutton has a locator tone for detecting the device and a tactile arrow to indicate which pedestrian street crossing is served by the device. The MUTCD contains standards for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons, but does not require that they be provided. The proposed guidelines require accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons to be provided when new pedestrian signals are installed. For existing pedestrian signals, the proposed guidelines require accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons to be provided when the signal controller and software are altered, or the signal head is replaced. Accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons must comply with the referenced standards in the MUTCD and the technical requirements for operable parts in Chapter R4. Technical assistance and training on the installation of accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons is available from the Access Board and transportation industry professional associations.35

Comments from Individuals Who Are Blind or Have Low Vision

The National Federation of the Blind was a member of the advisory committee that recommended the proposed guidelines, but filed a minority report recommending that state and local governments consult with the local blind community to determine whether to provide accessible pedestrian signals and pushbuttons on an intersection-by-intersection basis. Comments on the 2002 draft guidelines from individuals who identified themselves as blind or having low vision supported providing accessible pedestrian signals and pushbuttons at each signalized intersection where pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced by a margin of 2:1.

Governmental Units Affected

The Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) directed that audible traffic signals be included in transportation plans and projects where appropriate. See 23 U.S.C. 217 (g). Some state and local transportation departments currently provide accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons when pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at signalized intersections. The requirement in the proposed guidelines for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons will have impacts on state and local transportation departments that do not currently provide accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons when pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at signalized intersections.

Question 9. The Access Board seeks information on how many state and local transportation departments currently provide accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons when pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at signalized intersections.

Costs to Provide Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Pedestrian Pushbuttons

The Volpe Center estimated the additional cost for an accessible pedestrian pushbutton compared to conventional pushbutton is $350 per unit. For a typical intersection with four crosswalks, two accessible pedestrian pushbuttons would be required at each corner for a total of eight units per intersection and a total additional cost of $2,800 for the eight units. The cost of the units is expected to decrease as a result of the proposed guidelines due to greater standardization of customer requirements and increased orders. The total additional cost to provide accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons, including labor and other equipment such as stub poles and conduit, will vary by location. The Volpe Center estimated that the total additional costs are $3,600 per intersection based on a published cost study and interviews with local transportation departments.

Question 10. The Access Board seeks information from state and local transportation departments that currently provide accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons on the additional costs to provide the accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons.

The Volpe Center estimated that pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at 13,095 signalized intersections on an annual basis based on the following assumptions:

  • There are over 300,000 existing signalized intersections in the United States using a rule-of-thumb of one signalized intersection per 1,000 population.36
  • There are 2,550 new signalized intersections in the United States each year based on the US Census Bureau forecast of future population growth (0.85 percent).
  • Ninety (90) percent of new and existing signalized intersections in the United States provide pedestrian signals.
  • The life cycle or replacement rate for existing pedestrian signals is 25 years.

The Volpe Center estimated that the total annual costs are $47 million for requiring accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons when pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at signalized intersections.

Question 11. Comments are requested on the assumptions used to estimate the total annual costs for requiring accessible pedestrian signals and pushbuttons when pedestrian signals are newly installed or replaced at signalized intersections.

R210 Protruding Objects

Objects that protrude into pedestrian circulation paths can be hazardous for pedestrians, especially pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. Objects along or overhanging any portion of a pedestrian circulation path must comply with the technical requirements for protruding objects in Chapter R4. Objects also must not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes. An advisory section provides examples of street furniture and other objects that must comply with these requirements, and notes that the AASHTO "Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities" recommends that local governments regulate the use of sidewalks by private entities for activities such as outdoor dining, vending carts and stands, and street fairs under an encroachment permit process that addresses accessibility, including protruding objects and maintaining the clear width of pedestrian access routes.

R211 Signs

Signs that provide directions, warnings, or other information for pedestrians only and signs that identify routes served by transit stops must comply with the technical requirements for visual characters in Chapter R4. An advisory section provides examples of signs that are required and are not required to comply with the technical requirements for visual characters in Chapter R4. Signs displaying the International Symbol of Accessibility must be provided at accessible parking spaces and accessible passenger loading zones.

The 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines contain similar requirements for transit signs (see 810.4 and 810.6). In the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines, characters on bus route signs must comply with the technical requirements for character height "to the maximum extent practicable."37 The phrase "to the maximum extent practicable" was intended to provide flexibility where there are restrictions on the size of signs.  A similar provision is not included in the proposed guidelines because it is almost always practicable to comply with the technical requirements for character height. 

Audible sign systems and other technologies are widely used today to transmit information and are more usable by pedestrians who are blind or have low vision.38 Where audible sign systems and other technologies are used to transmit information equivalent to the information contained on signs, the signs are not required to comply with the technical requirements for visual characters in Chapter R4.

Question 12. The Access Board seeks information on technologies that are currently used or are under development to transmit information that is equivalent to the information contained on pedestrian signs and transit signs provided in the public right-of-way.

R212 Street Furniture

Drinking fountains, public toilet facilities, tables, and counters must comply with applicable requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. Where multiple single-user public toilet facilities are clustered at a single location, at least 5 percent, but no less than one, of the toilet facilities in each cluster must be accessible and identified by the International Symbol of Accessibility. At least 50 percent, but no less than one, of benches at each location must provide a clear space for a wheelchair adjacent to the bench. Benches at tables are not required to comply.

R213 Transit Stops and Transit Shelters

Transit stops and transit shelters must comply with the technical requirements for transit stops and transit shelters in Chapter R3. Transit stops in the public right-of-way typically serve fixed route bus systems, including bus rapid transit systems, and light rail transit systems. An advisory section notes that the Federal Highway Administration has issued guidance on the obligation of state and local transportation departments, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit agencies to coordinate the planning and funding of accessibility improvements to transit systems and facilities.

R214 On-Street Parking Spaces

Where on-street parking is provided on the block perimeter and the parking is marked or metered, a minimum number of parking spaces must be accessible and comply with the technical requirements for parking spaces in Chapter R3. For every 25 parking spaces on the block perimeter up to 100 spaces, one parking space must be accessible. For every additional 50 parking spaces on the block perimeter between 101 and 200 spaces, an additional parking space must be accessible. Where more than 200 parking spaces are provided on the block perimeter, 4 percent of the parking spaces must be accessible. Metered parking includes parking metered by parking pay stations. Where parking is metered by parking pay stations and the parking is not marked, each 6.1 meters (20 feet) of the block perimeter where parking is permitted is counted as one parking space for determining the minimum number of accessible parking spaces.

R215 Passenger Loading Zones

Where passenger loading zones are provided, at least one passenger loading zone for each 30 meters (100 feet) of continuous loading zone space or fraction thereof must be accessible and comply with the technical requirements for passenger loading zones in Chapter R3.

R216 Stairways and Escalators

Stairways on pedestrian circulation paths must comply with technical requirements for stairways in Chapter R4. Escalators on pedestrian circulation paths must comply with the applicable technical requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. Stairways and escalators cannot be part of a pedestrian access route.

R217 Handrails

Handrails are not required on pedestrian circulation paths. However, if handrails are provided on pedestrian circulation paths, the handrails must comply with the technical requirements for handrails in Chapter R4.

R218 Doors, Doorways, and Gates

Doors, doorways, and gates to pedestrian facilities such as transit shelters must comply with applicable technical requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines.

Chapter R3: Technical Requirements

Technical requirements specify what design criteria elements, spaces, and facilities must comply with in order to be considered accessible.

R301 General

The technical requirements in Chapter R3 apply where required by the scoping requirements in Chapter R2, or where referenced by another technical requirement in Chapters R3 or R4.

R302 Pedestrian Access Routes

General (R302.1)

The technical requirements for pedestrian access routes are contained in R302, and adapt the technical requirements for accessible routes in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to the public right-of-way. In alterations where existing physical constraints make it impractical to fully comply with the technical requirements, compliance is required to the extent practicable within the scope of the project (see R202.3.1).

Components (R302.2)

The components of pedestrian access routes and the technical requirements for each component are listed in R302.2. Sidewalks and other pedestrian circulation paths, pedestrian street crossings, and pedestrian overpasses and underpasses and similar structures must comply with all the technical requirements in R302.3 through R302.7. Curb ramps and blended transitions must comply with the technical requirements in R302.7 and R304. Ramps must comply with the technical requirements in R407. Elevators, limited use/limited application elevators, platform lifts, and doors, doorways, and gates must comply with applicable technical requirements in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines.

Continuous Width (R302.3)

The continuous clear width of pedestrian access routes (exclusive of the width of the curb) must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum, except for medians and pedestrian refuge islands where the clear width must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum in order to allow for passing space. The AASHTO "Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities" recommends that sidewalks be wider than 1.2 meters (4 feet), particularly in urban areas. Where sidewalks are wider than 1.2 meters (4 feet), only a portion of the sidewalk is required to comply with the technical requirements in R302.3 through R302.7.

The advisory committee recommended a minimum width of 1.5 meters (5 feet) for pedestrian access routes. The proposed guidelines specify a minimum width of 1.2 meters (4 feet) in order to allow for street furniture and other objects that may be located on sidewalks. R210 prohibits street furniture and other objects from reducing the clear width required for pedestrian access routes. A minimum width of 1.2 meters (4 feet) will accommodate turns at intersections and building entrances. Advisory information recommends additional maneuvering clearance at turns or changes in direction, recesses and alcoves, building entrances, and along curved or angled routes, particularly where the grade exceeds 5 percent.

Passing Spaces (R302.4)

Where the clear width of pedestrian access routes is less than 1.5 meters (5 feet), passing spaces must be provided at intervals of 61 meters (200 feet) maximum. Passing spaces must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum by 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum. Passing spaces are permitted to overlap pedestrian access routes.

Grade (R302.5)

Grade is the slope parallel to the direction of pedestrian travel. Grade is calculated by dividing the vertical change in elevation by the horizontal distance covered, and is expressed as a percent. Where pedestrian access routes are contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the grade of the pedestrian access route is permitted to equal the general grade established for the adjacent street or highway, except that where pedestrian access routes are contained within pedestrian street crossings a maximum grade of 5 percent is required. This is consistent with the AASHTO "Policy on Geometric Design of Highways and Streets" which recommends that the sidewalk grade follow the grade of adjacent roadways, and also recommends maximum cross slopes for roadways. Where pedestrian access routes are not contained within a street or highway right-of-way, a maximum grade of 5 percent is required.

Cross Slope (R302.6)

Cross slope is the slope perpendicular to the direction of pedestrian travel (see R105.5). On a sidewalk, cross slope is measured perpendicular to the curb line or edge of the street or highway. Cross slope impedes travel by pedestrians who use wheeled mobility devices since energy must be expended to counteract the perpendicular force of the cross slope. Cross slope makes it more difficult for pedestrians who use wheelchairs to travel on uphill slopes and to maintain balance and control on downhill slopes. Cross slope also negatively affects pedestrians who use braces, lower limb prostheses, crutches, or walkers, as well as pedestrians who have gait, balance, or stamina impairments. The maximum cross slope permitted on accessible routes in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines is 2 percent. In exterior environments, a maximum cross slope of 2 percent is generally accepted as adequate to allow water to drain off paved walking surfaces.

A maximum cross slope of 2 percent is specified for pedestrian access routes, except for pedestrian access routes contained within certain pedestrian street crossings in order to allow for typical roadway geometry. A 5 percent maximum cross slope is specified for pedestrian access routes contained within pedestrian street crossings without yield or stop control to avoid any unintended negative impacts on the control and safety of vehicles, their occupants, and pedestrians in the vicinity of the intersection. Pedestrian street crossings without yield or stop control are crossings where there is no yield or stop sign, or where there is a traffic signal that is designed for the green phase. At pedestrian street crossings without yield or stop control vehicles can proceed through the intersection without slowing or stopping. The cross slope of pedestrian access routes contained within midblock pedestrian street crossings is permitted to equal the street or highway grade.

Question 13. Comments are requested on whether the description of pedestrian street crossings without yield or stop control is clear, or whether there is a better way to describe such crossings?

In new construction, where pedestrian access routes within sidewalks intersect at corners, the 2 percent maximum cross slope requirement will result in level corners (i.e., the slope at the corners will not exceed 2 percent in each direction of pedestrian travel). The level corners will provide a platform for providing level spaces for curb ramps and blended transitions, pedestrian street crossings, and accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons.

Newly Constructed Tabled Intersections That Contain Pedestrian Street Crossings With Yield or Stop Control

The 2 percent maximum cross slope requirement applies to pedestrian access routes within pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control where vehicles slow or stop before proceeding through the intersection. The cross slope of the pedestrian access route within the pedestrian street crossing is the longitudinal grade of the street being crossed, and the 2 percent maximum cross slope requirement will impact the vertical alignment of streets in the vicinity of the intersection. In new construction, street intersections in hilly urban areas are typically cut-and filled to produce relative flat or tabled intersections. Where pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control are provided at newly constructed tabled intersections, the tabling would be extended to the pedestrian street crossings to comply with the 2 percent maximum cross slope for pedestrian access routes within the pedestrian street crossings.

Question 14. The Access Board seeks information on the current design policies and practices of state and local transportation departments with respect to tabling newly constructed intersections in hilly urban areas, and particularly whether the tabling is extended to pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control.

In new construction, extending the tabling of intersections to pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control involves additional costs for site preparation, grading, and earthwork. The Volpe Center roughly estimated the additional costs to extend the tabling to pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control to be $60,000 per intersection based on information provided by a transportation official to the Access Board. The costs will vary by site.

Question 15. The Access Board seeks information on the additional costs to extend the tabling of newly constructed intersections in hilly urban areas to pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control.

Question 16. The Access Board seeks information on number of tabled intersections which contain pedestrian street crossings with yield or stop control that are newly constructed in hilly urban areas on an annual basis by state and local transportation departments.

Surfaces (R302.7)

The proposed technical requirements for surfaces apply to pedestrian access routes, including curb ramps and blended transitions, and accessible elements and spaces that connect to pedestrian access routes. An advisory section lists the accessible elements and spaces that connect to pedestrian access routes and are required to comply with the technical requirements for surfaces.

The surfaces of pedestrian access routes and the surfaces at accessible elements and spaces that connect to pedestrian access routes must be firm, stable, and slip resistant. Vertical alignment of surfaces within pedestrian access routes (including curb ramp runs, blended transitions, turning spaces, and gutter areas within pedestrian access routes) and within the surfaces at accessible elements and spaces that connect to pedestrian access routes must be generally planar. Grade breaks (i.e., the line where two surface planes with different grades meet, see R105.5) must be flush. Where pedestrian access routes cross rails at grade, the pedestrian access route must be level and flush with the top of the rail at the outer edges of the rails, and the surfaces between the rails must be aligned with the top of the rail.

Vertical surface discontinuities (i.e., vertical difference in level between two adjacent surfaces, see R105.5) must be 13 millimeters (0.5 inch) maximum. Vertical surface discontinuities between 6.4 millimeters (0.25 inch) and 13 millimeters (0.5 inch) must be beveled with a slope not steeper than 50 percent, and the bevel must be applied across the entire vertical surface discontinuity. Horizontal openings in gratings and joints must not permit the passage of a sphere more than 13 millimeters (0.5 inch) in diameter. Elongated openings in gratings must be placed so that the long dimension is perpendicular to the dominant direction of travel.

Flangeway gaps at pedestrian at-grade rail crossings must be 64 millimeters (2.5 inches) maximum on non-freight rail track, and 75 millimeters (3 inches) maximum on freight rail track. These are the typical gaps required to allow passage of train wheel flanges. The flangeway gaps are wider than the maximum gap allowed for horizontal openings in other surfaces. These wider flangeway gaps pose a potential safety hazard to pedestrians who use wheelchairs because the gap can entrap the wheelchair casters.39 The Federal Railroad Administration is sponsoring research to develop materials or devices that will fill the flangeway gap under light loads of a wheelchair but will compress or retract when a train wheel flange passes over it.40 The materials or devices will be tested under heavy and light train loads for safety, effectiveness, durability, and cost.

Question 17. The Access Board seeks information on materials and devices that fill the flangeway gap, and any related research and sources of expertise.

R303 Alternate Pedestrian Access Routes (See R205)

In the 2005 draft of the proposed guidelines, the technical requirements for alternate pedestrian access routes were contained in Chapter R3. The proposed guidelines reference MUTCD standards for alternate pedestrian access routes in the scoping requirements at R205. This section heading is included in Chapter R3 of the proposed guidelines to notify readers who were familiar with the 2005 draft of the proposed guidelines where to find the requirements for alternate pedestrian access routes. This section heading will not be included in the final guidelines.

R304 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions

General (R304.1)

Curb ramps are ramps that are cut through or built up to the curb (see R105.5). Curb ramps can be perpendicular or parallel, or a combination of parallel and perpendicular ramps. Blended transitions are raised pedestrian street crossings, depressed corners, or similar connections between the pedestrian access route at the level of the sidewalk and the level of the pedestrian street crossing that have a grade of 5 percent or less (see R105.5).

The technical requirements for curb ramps and blended transitions are contained in R304 and adapt the technical requirements for curb ramps in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to the public right-of-way. In alterations where existing physical constraints make it impractical to fully comply with the technical requirements, compliance is required to the extent practicable within the scope of the project (see R202.3.1).

Perpendicular Curb Ramps (R304.2)

Perpendicular curb ramps have a running slope that cuts through or is built up to the curb at right angles or meets the gutter grade break at right angles where the curb is curved. On corners with a large curb radius, it will be necessary to indent the gutter grade break on one side of the curb ramp in order for the curb ramp to meet the gutter grade break at right angles.

A turning space must be provided at the top of perpendicular curb ramps. The turning space must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum by 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum, and is permitted to overlap other turning spaces and clear spaces. Where the turning space is constrained at the back of the sidewalk, the turning space must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum by 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum, with the 1.5 meters (5 feet) dimension provided in the direction of the ramp run.

A minimum running slope of 5 percent and a maximum running slope of 8.3 percent are specified for perpendicular curb ramps, and the ramp length is limited to 4.5 meters (15 feet). A maximum running slope of 2 percent is specified for the turning space at the top of the curb ramp. The running slope is measured parallel to the direction of pedestrian travel.

A maximum slope of 10 percent is specified for the flared sides of perpendicular curb ramps where a pedestrian circulation path crosses the curb ramp. The flared sides are part of the pedestrian circulation path, but are not part of the pedestrian access route. The slope of the flared sides is measured parallel to the curb line. The 10 percent maximum slope for the flared sides is the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines (see 403.6). Transportation officials have reported that the 10 percent maximum slope for the flared sides can make it difficult to provide two perpendicular curb ramps at some street corners due to the width of the flared sides at the base of the curb ramp. The Access Board is considering increasing the maximum slope for the flared sides to 12.5 percent or 16.7 percent to address this issue.

Question 18. Comments are requested on whether the maximum slope for the flared sides of perpendicular curb ramps should be increased from 10 percent to 12.5 percent or 16.7 percent, and what impact such a change would have on providing two perpendicular curb ramps at street corners. Comments are also requested on any public safety issues that may arise from increasing the maximum slope for the flared sides from 10 percent to 12.5 percent or 16.7 percent.

Parallel Curb Ramps (R304.3)

Parallel curb ramps have a running slope that is in-line with the direction of sidewalk travel and lower the sidewalk to a level turning space where a turn is made to enter the pedestrian street crossing.

A turning space must be provided at the bottom of parallel curb ramps. The turning space must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum by 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum, and is permitted to overlap other turning spaces and clear spaces. Where the turning space is constrained on two or more sides, the turning space must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum by 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum, with the 1.5 meters (5 feet) dimension provided in the direction of the pedestrian street crossing.

A minimum running slope of 5 percent and a maximum running slope of 8.3 percent are specified for parallel curb ramps, and the ramp length is limited to 4.5 meters (15 feet). A maximum running slope of 2 percent is specified for the turning space at the bottom of the curb ramp. The running slope is measured parallel to the direction of pedestrian travel.

Blended Transitions (R304.4)

A maximum running slope of 5 percent is specified for blended transitions. The running slope is measured parallel to the direction of pedestrian travel.

Common Requirements (R304.5)

The clear width of curb ramp runs (excluding flared sides), blended transitions, and turning spaces must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum. Grade breaks at the top and bottom of curb ramp runs must be perpendicular to the direction of the ramp run. Grade breaks are not permitted on the surface of ramp runs and turning spaces. Surface slopes that meet at grade breaks must be flush. A maximum cross slope of 2 percent is specified for curb ramps, blended transitions, and turning spaces. At pedestrian street crossings without yield or stop control and at midblock pedestrian street crossings, the cross slope is permitted to equal the street or highway grade. The cross slope is measured perpendicular to the direction of pedestrian travel. A maximum counter slope of 5 percent is specified for the gutter or street at the foot of curb ramp runs, blended transitions, and turning spaces. A clear space must be provided beyond the bottom of the grade break that is within the width of the pedestrian street crossing and wholly outside the parallel vehicle traffic lane. The clear space must be 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum by 1.2 meters (4 feet) minimum.

R305 Detectable Warning Surfaces

Detectable warning surfaces consist of truncated domes aligned in a square or radial grid pattern. The dimensions for dome size and dome spacing are the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. The detectable warning surfaces must contrast visually with adjacent gutter, street or highway, or pedestrian access route surface, either light-on-dark or dark-on-light. The detectable warning surfaces must extend 610 millimeters (2 feet) minimum in the direction of pedestrian travel. At curb ramps and blended transitions, detectable warning surfaces must extend the full width of the ramp run (excluding flared sides), blended transition, or turning space. At pedestrian at-grade rail crossings not located within a street or highway, detectable warning surfaces must extend the full width of the crossing. At boarding platforms for buses and rail vehicles, detectable warning surfaces must extend the full length of the public use areas of the platform. At boarding and alighting areas at sidewalk or street level transit stops for rail vehicles, detectable warning surfaces must extend the full length of the transit stop. The proposed technical requirements specify where detectable warning surfaces must be placed on perpendicular curb ramps, parallel cub ramps, blended transitions, pedestrian refuge islands, pedestrian at-grade rail crossings, boarding platforms for buses and rail vehicles, and boarding and alighting areas at sidewalk or street level transit stops for rail vehicles.

R306 Pedestrian Street Crossings

The technical requirements in R306 address pedestrian signal phase timing and pedestrian street crossings at roundabouts and multi-lane channelized turn lanes.

Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing

Pedestrian signal phase timing must comply with referenced MUTCD standards and use a pedestrian clearance time that is calculated based on pedestrian walking speed of 1.1 meters/second (3.5 feet/second) or less.

Roundabouts

A roundabout is a circular intersection with yield control at entry, which permits a vehicle on the circulatory roadway to proceed, and with deflection of the approaching vehicle counter-clockwise around a central island (MUTCD section 1A.13). Pedestrian street crossings at roundabouts can be difficult for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision to identify because the crossings are located off to the side of the pedestrian circulation path around the street or highway. Where sidewalks are flush against the curb at roundabouts and pedestrian street crossing is not intended, a continuous and detectable edge treatment must be provided along the street side of the sidewalk at roundabouts. Detectable warning surfaces must not be used for edge treatment. Where chains, fencing, or railings are used for edge protection, the bottom edge of the treatment must be 380 millimeters (15 inches) maximum above the sidewalk to be detectable by cane.

The continuous traffic flow at roundabouts removes many of the audible cues that pedestrians who are blind use to navigate pedestrian street crossings. At roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings, a pedestrian activated signal must be provided for each multilane segment of each crossing, including the splitter island (i.e., median island used to separate opposing directions of traffic entering and exiting a roundabout, MUTCD section 1A.13). Transportation officials who commented on the 2002 draft guidelines expressed concern that signalization of roundabouts would interfere with the flow of traffic at roundabout intersections. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons can be used at roundabouts. See MUTCD sections 4F.01 through 4F.03. Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons are traffic signals that consist of a yellow signal centered below two horizontally aligned red signals. The signals are normally dark (i.e., not illuminated). The signals are initiated only upon pedestrian activation and can be timed to minimize the interruption of traffic. The signals cease operation after the pedestrian clears the crosswalk. When activated by a pedestrian, the following signals are displayed to drivers: a flashing yellow signal, then a steady yellow signal, then two steady red signals during the pedestrian walk interval, and then alternating flashing red signals during the pedestrian clearance interval. The following signals are displayed to pedestrians: a steady upraised hand (symbolizing DON'T WALK) when the flashing or steady yellow signal is operating, then a walking person (symbolizing WALK) when the steady red signals are operating, and then a flashing upraised hand (symbolizing DON'T WALK) when the alternating flashing red signals are operating. Transportation officials may request permission from the Federal Highway Administration to experiment with alternative signals at roundabouts (see MUTCD section 1A.10).41

Multi-Lane Channelized Turn Lanes

Pedestrian activated signals must be provided at pedestrian street crossings at multi-lane channelized turn lanes at roundabouts and other signalized intersections. The pedestrian activated signals must comply with MUTCD standards for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons.

Governmental Units Affected

The requirement for pedestrian activated signals at roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings will affect state and local transportation departments that construct new roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings. The Volpe Center estimated that state and local transportation departments construct 27 new roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings on an annual basis.42

Costs to Provide Pedestrian Activated Signals at Roundabouts with Multi-Lane Pedestrian Street Crossings

The Volpe Center estimated the cost to provide pedestrian activated signals at new roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings to range from $90,000 to $230,000 per roundabout, and the total annual costs for requiring pedestrian activated signals at new roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings to range from $2.4 million to $6.2 million.

Question 19. The Access Board seeks additional information on the number of roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings that are newly constructed on an annual basis by state and local transportation departments, and the costs to provide pedestrian activated signals at newly constructed roundabouts with multi-lane pedestrian street crossings.

R307 Accessible Pedestrian Signals and Pedestrian Pushbuttons (See R209)

In the 2005 draft of the proposed guidelines, the technical requirements for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons were contained in Chapter R3. The proposed guidelines reference MUTCD standards for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons in the scoping requirements at R209. This section heading is included in Chapter R3 of the proposed guidelines to notify readers who were familiar with the 2005 draft of the proposed guidelines where to find the requirements for accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons. This section heading will not be included in the final guidelines.

R308 Transit Stops and Transit Shelters

The technical requirements for transit stops and transit shelters are contained in R308 and adapt the technical requirements for transit facilities in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to the public right-of-way.

Transit Stops (R308.1)

Boarding and alighting areas at sidewalk or street level transit stops must be 2.4 meters (8 feet) minimum measured perpendicular to the street or highway, and 1.5 meters (5 feet) minimum measured parallel to the street or highway. The grade of the boarding and alighting area parallel to the street or highway must be equal to street or highway grade to the extent practicable. The grade of the boarding and alighting area perpendicular to the street or highway must not exceed 2 percent. Where transit stops serve vehicles with more than one car, boarding and alighting areas serving each car must comply with these requirements.

Boarding platforms at transit stops must be positioned to coordinate with vehicles to minimize the vertical and horizontal gaps. The slope of boarding platforms must not exceed 2 percent in any direction. Where boarding platforms serve vehicles operating on existing track or existing street or highway, the slope of the platform parallel to the track or street or highway is permitted to equal the grade of the track or street or highway.

The surfaces of boarding and alighting areas and boarding platforms must comply with the technical requirements for surfaces (see R302.7). Boarding and alighting areas and boarding platforms must be connected to streets, sidewalks, or pedestrian circulation paths by a pedestrian access route.

Transit Shelters (R308.2)

Transit shelters must be connected by a pedestrian access route to boarding and alighting areas or boarding platforms. A clear space (see R404) must be provided entirely within the transit shelter. Where seating is provided within transit shelters, the clear space must be located either at the end of a seat, or not overlap the area within 460 millimeters (1.5 feet) from the front edge of the seat in order to not interfere with others using the seating. Environmental controls within transit shelters must be proximity actuated. Protruding objects within transit shelters must comply with the technical requirements for protruding objects (see R402).

The Access Board is considering whether to require a turning space in transit shelters. Transit shelter designs vary. Some transit shelters are enclosed on three or four sides, with an opening for ingress and egress. The turning space would be based on the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines (see 304.3).43  The turning space would be permitted to overlap the clear space within the transit shelter and the pedestrian access route, but would not be permitted to overlap the area within 460 millimeters (1.5 feet) from the front edge of seats in the transit shelter in order to not interfere with others using the seating. The portion of the turning space that does not overlap the clear space would be permitted to be outside the transit shelter.

Question 20. Comments are requested on whether a turning space should be required in transit shelters and what impact such a requirement would have on the design and placement of transit shelters? 

R309 On-Street Parking Spaces

General (R309.1)

The technical requirements for accessible on-street parking spaces are contained in R309 and adapt the technical requirements for accessible parking spaces in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines to the public right-of-way.

Parallel Parking Spaces (R309.2)

Where the adjacent sidewalk or available right-of-way is more than 4.3 meters (14 feet) wide, an access aisle must be provided at street level for the entire length of each accessible parallel parking space. The access aisle must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide minimum and connect to a pedestrian access route. The access aisle must not encroach on the vehicular travel lane and comply with the technical requirements for surfaces (see R302.7). In alterations where the street or sidewalk adjacent to the parking spaces is not altered, an access aisle is not required provided the parking spaces are located at the end of the block face.

Where the adjacent sidewalk or available right-of-way is less than or equal to 4.3 meters (14 feet) wide, an access aisle is not required, but accessible parallel parking spaces must be located at the end of the block face.

Perpendicular and Angled Parking Spaces (R309.3)

An access aisle must be provided at street level for the entire length of each accessible perpendicular or angled parking space. The access aisle must be 2.4 meters (8 feet) wide minimum to accommodate vans with lifts, and connect to a pedestrian access route. Two accessible parking spaces are permitted to share a common access aisle. The access aisle must be marked to discourage parking in the aisle and comply with the technical requirements for surfaces (see R302.7).

Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions (R309.4)

Curb ramps or blended transitions must connect the access aisle serving each accessible on-street parking space to the pedestrian access route. Curb ramps are not permitted within the access aisle. Parking spaces at the end of block face can be served by curb ramps or blended transitions at the pedestrian street crossing. Detectable warning surfaces are not required on curb ramps and blended transitions that connect the access aisle to the sidewalk, including where the sidewalk is at the same level as the parking spaces, unless the curb ramps and blended transitions also serve pedestrian street crossings.

Parking Meters and Parking Pay Stations (R309.5)

Operable parts of parking meters and parking pay stations that serve accessible on-street parking spaces must comply with technical requirements for operable parts in Chapter R4. Displays and information must be visible from a point located 1 meter (3.3 feet) maximum above the center of the clear space in front of the parking meter or parking pay station. At accessible parallel parking spaces, parking meters must be located at the head or foot of the space.

R310 Passenger Loading Zones

The technical requirements for accessible passenger loading zones are the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. A vehicular pull-up space 2.4 meters (8 feet) wide minimum and 6.1 meters (20 feet) long minimum must be provided at accessible passenger loading zones. An access aisle must be provided at the same level as the vehicle pull-up space. The access aisle must be 1.5 meters (5 feet) wide minimum, extend the entire length of the vehicle pull-up space, and connect to the pedestrian access route. The access aisle must be marked to discourage parking in the aisle and comply with the technical requirements for surfaces (see R302.7).

Chapter R4: Supplementary Technical Requirements

Chapter R4 contains supplementary technical requirements that are the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines unless otherwise noted below.

R401 General

The supplementary technical requirements in Chapter R4 apply where required by scoping requirements in Chapter R2, or where referenced by another technical requirement in Chapters R3 or R4.

R402 Protruding Objects

Objects with leading edges between 685 millimeters (2.25 feet) and 2 meters (6.7 feet) above the finish surface must not protrude into pedestrian circulation paths more than 100 millimeters (4 inches). Post-mounted objects such as signs that are between 685 millimeters (2.25 feet) and 2 meters (6.7 feet) above the finish surface must not overhang pedestrian circulation paths more than 100 millimeters (4 inches) measured horizontally from the base of the post. The post base must be 64 millimeters (2.5 inches) thick minimum. Where objects are mounted between posts and the clear distance between the posts is more than 305 millimeters (1 foot), the lowest edge of the object must be 685 millimeters (2.25 feet) minimum or 2 meters (6.7 feet) maximum above the finish surface. The requirement for post-mounted objects differs from the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines but is consistent with the MUTCD which requires the bottom of signs installed on the sidewalk to be 7 feet minimum above the sidewalk, and the bottom of secondary signs (i.e., signs mounted below another sign) that are lower than 7 feet above the sidewalk to project not more than 4 inches into the sidewalk (see MUTCD section 2A.18).

Guardrails or other barriers to pedestrian travel must be provided where the vertical clearance on pedestrian circulation paths is less than 2 meters (6.7 feet) high. The leading edge of the guardrail or barrier must be 685 millimeters (2.25 feet) maximum above the finish surface.

R403 Operable Parts

An operable part is a component of an element used to insert or withdraw objects, or to activate, deactivate, or adjust the element (see R105.5). The technical requirements for operable parts apply to operable parts on accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons (see R209) and parking meters and parking pay stations that serve accessible parking spaces (see R309.5). A clear space must be provided at operable parts (see R404). Operable parts must be located within the reach ranges (see R406). Operable parts must be operable with one hand and not require tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. The force required to activate operable parts must be no more than 22 newtons (5 pounds).

R404 Clear Spaces

Clear spaces are required at operable parts (see R403.2), including accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian pushbuttons (see R209) and parking meters and parking pay stations that serve accessible parking spaces (see R309.5). Clear spaces are also required at benches (see R212.6) and within transit shelters (see R308.2). Clear spaces must be 760 millimeters (2.5 feet) minimum by 1220 millimeters (4 feet) minimum. Additional maneuvering space must be provided where an element is confined on all or part of three sides. Clear spaces are permitted to include knee and toe clearance and to be positioned for either forward or parallel approach to an element, unless another requirement specifies otherwise. The running slope of clear spaces is permitted to be consistent with the grade of the adjacent pedestrian access route. This requirement differs from the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines which does not permit slopes steeper than 2 percent at clear spaces. A 2 percent maximum cross slope is specified for clear spaces. Clear spaces must comply with the technical requirements for surfaces (see R302.7).

R405 Knee and Toe Clearance

The technical requirements for knee and toe clearance apply where space beneath an element is included as part of the clear space.

R406 Reach Ranges

Forward and side reach ranges must be between 380 millimeters (1.25 feet) and 1220 millimeters (4 feet) above the finish surface. The requirements for reach ranges differ from the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines in that forward reach over an obstruction is not permitted, and side reach over an obstruction is permitted where the depth of the obstruction between the clear space and the element is 225 millimeters (10 inches) maximum.

R407 Ramps
R408 Stairways
R409 Handrails
R410 Visual Characters on Signs
R411 International Symbol of Accessibility

The technical requirements ramps, stairways, handrails, visual characters on signs, and the International Symbol of Accessibility are the same as in the 2004 ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines.

Other Issues

Rollability and Smoothness of Walking Surfaces

Rollability refers to the ease and comfort with which pedestrians using wheelchairs and other wheeled mobility devices can travel on walking surfaces. Rough or jointed walking surfaces can cause pedestrians using wheelchairs and other wheeled mobility devices to expend extra energy or pushing effort that makes it more difficult for them to use the walking surface, and the resulting surface vibration can cause discomfort or pain that may prevent them from using the walking surface all together. There are smoothness measures for road surfaces but no similar measures for walking surfaces. The Access Board is sponsoring preliminary research that will produce a plan for a test protocol and instrumentation to measure the rollability and smoothness of walking surfaces and to establish an index of surface vibration.

Question 21. The Access Board seeks information on related research and sources of expertise on measuring the rollability and smoothness of walking surfaces, including information from the medical community on the effects of surface vibration on individuals with disabilities.

Shared Streets

A shared street is a common space designed for use by pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles.44 Shared streets typically do not have curbs and delineated sidewalks. Vehicles typically travel at low speeds on shared streets. Trees, planters, parking areas, and other obstacles may be placed on shared streets to slow vehicles. Shared streets can be in a commercial area or residential area. Shared streets are difficult for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision to navigate because of the absence of curbs and clearly delineated sidewalks.45 The Pedestrian Accessibility and Movement Environment Laboratory at University College London has conducted limited research on the use of tactile surfaces to delineate the space on shared streets that is to be used exclusively by pedestrians, and not vehicles.46 The tactile surfaces tested included raised truncated domes that, in the United States, are used as detectable warning surfaces on curb ramps and blended transitions to indicate the boundary between the pedestrian route and the vehicular route at pedestrian street crossings. Using detectable warning surfaces to facilitate wayfinding along shared streets would be expanding the use of such surfaces.

Question 22. The Access Board seeks information on the design of shared streets in the United States, and whether tactile surfaces or other design features are used to facilitate wayfinding along shared streets. The Access Board also seeks information about other research that is planned or underway on the use of tactile surfaces or other design features to facilitate wayfinding along shared streets.