1. Executive Summary

This supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) proposes to include specific provisions for shared use paths in the proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way published in the Federal Register on July 26, 2011. See 76 FR 44664 (July 26, 2011). A copy of the proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way with the specific provisions for shared use paths proposed in the SNPRM is available below.

We are required by section 502 of the Rehabilitation Act to establish and maintain accessibility guidelines for the design, construction, and alteration of facilities covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) to ensure that the facilities are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. See 29 U.S.C. 792 (b) (3). The ADA covers state and local government facilities, places of public accommodation, and commercial facilities. See 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. The ABA covers facilities financed with federal funds. See 42 U.S.C. 4151 et seq.

We are issuing the SNPRM in response to public comments on 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. The comments noted that shared use paths are distinct from trails and sidewalks, and recommended that we develop accessibility guidelines for shared use paths. As defined in the SNPRM, shared use paths are multi-use paths designed primarily for use by bicyclists and pedestrians, including pedestrians with disabilities, for transportation and recreation purposes. Shared use paths are physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier, and are either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.

As noted above, the SNPRM would include specific provisions for shared use paths in the proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. The proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way would require pedestrian access routes to be provided within pedestrian circulation paths located in the public right-of-way, and would establish proposed technical provisions for the width, grade, cross slope, and surface of pedestrian access routes. See R204.2 and R302. Where existing pedestrian circulation paths are altered and existing physical constraints make it impracticable for the altered paths to fully comply with the proposed technical provisions, compliance would be required to the extent practicable. See R202.3.1.

The SNPRM would:

  • Require the full width of a shared use path to comply with the proposed technical provisions for the grade, cross slope, and surface of pedestrian access routes (see R302.3.2);
  • Permit compliance with the proposed technical provisions for the grade of pedestrian access routes to the extent practicable where physical constraints or regulatory constraints prevent full compliance (see R302.5.4 and R302.5.5);
  • Prohibit objects from overhanging or protruding into any portion of a shared use path at or below 8 feet measured from the finished surface (see R210.3); and
  • Require the width of curb ramps and blended transitions in shared use paths to be equal to the width of the shared use path (see R304.5.1.2).

The SNPRM is consistent with the design criteria for shared used paths in the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) "Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities" (2012) (hereinafter referred to as the "AASHTO Guide"). The SNPRM is not expected to increase the cost of constructing shared use paths for state and local government jurisdictions that use the AASHTO Guide.

As discussed in the preamble to the proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way, other federal agencies are required to adopt accessibility standards for the design, construction, and alteration of facilities covered by the ADA and ABA that are consistent with our accessibility guidelines. When the other federal agencies adopt accessibility standards for the design, construction, and alteration of pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way, including shared use paths, covered by the ADA and ABA, compliance with the standards is mandatory.