2. Background

We are conducting separate rulemakings to develop accessibility guidelines for trails and other outdoor developed areas, and for sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way.

We issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) requesting comments on proposed accessibility guidelines for trails and other outdoor developed areas in 2007. See 72 FR 34074 (June 20, 2007). A trail would be defined for purposes of these accessibility guidelines as a pedestrian route developed primarily for outdoor recreational purposes. A pedestrian route developed primarily to connect elements, spaces, or facilities within a site is not a trail.

We requested comments on draft accessibility guidelines for sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way in 2002 and 2005. See 67 FR 41206 (June 17, 2002); and 70 FR 70734 (November 23, 2005). These accessibility guidelines would adopt the definition of sidewalk in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD (2009) defines a sidewalk as the portion of a street between the curb line, or the lateral line of a roadway, and the adjacent property line or on easements of private property that is paved or improved and intended for use by pedestrians.

Public comments on these rulemakings noted that shared use paths are distinct from trails and sidewalks in that they are used by bicyclists and pedestrians, including pedestrians with disabilities, for transportation and recreation purposes. The comments recommended that we develop accessibility guidelines for shared use paths. On March 28, 2011, we issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) announcing our intent to develop accessibility guidelines for shared use paths, and requested comments on a definition and draft technical provisions for shared use paths. See 76 FR 17064 (March 28, 2011). We noted in the ANPRM that we are considering including accessibility guidelines for shared use paths in the accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way since state and local transportation departments are the principal entities that design and construct shared use paths, and many of the draft technical provisions for shared use paths in the ANPRM are the same as those in the draft accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way (e.g., curb ramps and blended transitions, and detectable warning surfaces).

On July 26, 2011, we issued a NPRM requesting comments on proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. See 76 FR 44664 (July 26, 2011). The NPRM did not include specific provisions for shared use paths. The comment period on the NPRM ended on November 23, 2011. The comment period was reopened on December 5, 2011 to allow additional time for the public to submit comments. See 76 FR 75844 (December 5, 2011). The additional comment period ended on February 2, 2012.