3. Proposed Supplements to Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way

We are issuing this SNPRM 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). The proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way will be codified as an appendix to 36 CFR part 1190. The SNPRM would supplement the following sections of the proposed accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way: R105.5 Defined Terms; R204 and R302 Pedestrian Access Routes; R210 Protruding Objects; R218 Doors, Doorways, and Gates; and R304 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions. The proposed supplements to these sections are set forth below.

R105.5 Defined Terms.

Shared Use Path

The SNPRM would add a proposed definition of shared use path in R105.5 to read as follows:

Shared Use Path. A multi-use path 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.

The proposed definition is based on the AASHTO Guide, which defines a shared use path as a bikeway physically separated from motor vehicle traffic by an open space or barrier, and either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right of way. The AASHTO Guide notes that pedestrians, including pedestrians with disabilities, also use shared use paths and that they can serve transportation and recreation purposes. See AASHTO Guide, 5.1 Introduction. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) defines a shared use path similar to the AASHTO Guide.1 State transportation departments also define shared use paths similar to the AASHTO Guide.2

As noted in the AASHTO Guide, the primary factor that distinguishes shared use paths and sidewalks is the intended user. Shared use paths are designed for use by bicyclists and pedestrians, including pedestrians with disabilities. Sidewalks are designed for use by pedestrians, including pedestrians with disabilities, and are not intended for use by bicyclists. See AASHTO Guide, 5.2.2, Shared Use Paths Adjacent to Roadways (Sidepaths).

Public Right-of-Way

The SNPRM would revise the proposed definition of public right-of-way in R105.5 to read as follows:

Public Right-of-Way. Public land acquired for or dedicated to transportation purposes, or other land where there is a legally established right for use by the public for transportation purposes.

The NPRM proposed to define public right-of-way as public land or property, usually in interconnected corridors, that is acquired for or dedicated to transportation purposes. Some shared use paths may cross private land. In these situations, an easement or other legal means is used to establish a right for the public to use the portion of the land that the shared use path crosses for transportation purposes. The SNPRM would revise the proposed definition of public right-of-way to include these situations.

R204 and R302 Pedestrian Access Routes

The SNPRM would revise these sections relating to pedestrian access routes.

R204.2 Pedestrian Circulation Paths

The SNPRM would revise R204.2 to read as follows:

R204.2 Pedestrian Circulation Paths. A pedestrian access route shall be provided within pedestrian circulation paths located in the public right-of-way. The pedestrian access route shall connect to accessible elements, spaces, and facilities required by this document and to accessible routes required by section 206.2.1 of appendix B to 36 CFR part 1191 or section F206.2.1 of appendix C to 36 CFR 1191 that connect building and facility entrances to public streets and sidewalks.

As proposed in the NPRM, R204.2 would require a pedestrian access route to be provided within sidewalks and other pedestrian circulation paths located in the public right-of-way. The NPRM proposed to define a pedestrian circulation path as a prepared exterior or interior surface provided for pedestrian travel in the public right-of-way. See R105.5. Sidewalks and shared use paths are types of pedestrian circulation paths. As revised by the SNPRM, the term "pedestrian circulation paths" in R204.2 includes sidewalks and shared use paths.

R302.3 Continuous Width

The SNPRM would revise R302.3 to read as follows:

R302.3 Continuous Width. Except as provided in R302.3.1 and R302.3.2, the continuous clear width of pedestrian access routes shall be 1.2 m (4.0 ft) minimum, exclusive of the width of the curb.

R302.3.1 Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Islands. The clear width of pedestrian access routes within medians and pedestrian refuge islands shall be 1.5 m (5.0 ft) minimum.

R302.3.2 Shared Use Paths. A pedestrian access route shall be provided for the full width of a shared use path.

As proposed in the NPRM, R302.3 would require pedestrian access routes to be 4 feet wide minimum, except R302.3.1 would require pedestrian access routes within medians and pedestrian refuge islands to be 5 feet wide minimum to allow for passing space.

The SNPRM would add a new provision at R302.3.2 that would require a pedestrian access route to be provided for the full width of a shared use path since shared use paths are typically two-directional and path users travel in each direction on the right hand side of the path, except to pass. The AASHTO Guide recommends that two-directional shared use paths should be 10 feet wide minimum. Where shared use paths are anticipated to serve a high percentage of pedestrians and high user volumes, the AASHTO Guide recommends that the paths should be 11 to 14 feet wide to enable a bicyclist to pass another path user travelling in the same direction, at the same time a path user is approaching from the opposite direction. In certain very rare circumstances, the AASHTO Guide permits the width of shared use paths to be reduced to 8 feet. See AASHTO Guide, 5.2.1 Width and Clearance.

R302.5 Grade

The SNPRM would revise R302.5 to read as follows:

R302.5 Grade. The grade of pedestrian access routes shall comply with R302.5.

R302.5.1 Within Street or Highway Right-of-Way. Except as provided in R302.5.3, where pedestrian access routes are contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the grade of pedestrian access routes shall not exceed the general grade established for the adjacent street or highway.

R302.5.2 Not Within Street or Highway Right-of-Way. Where pedestrian access routes are not contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the grade of pedestrian access routes shall be 5 percent maximum.

R302.5.3 Within Pedestrian Street Crossings. Where pedestrian access routes are contained within a pedestrian street crossing, the grade of pedestrian access routes shall be 5 percent maximum.

R302.5.4 Physical Constraints. Where compliance with R302.5.1 or R302.5.2 is not practicable due to existing terrain or infrastructure, right-of-way availability, a notable natural feature, or similar existing physical constraints, compliance is required to the extent practicable.

R302.5.5 Regulatory Constraints. Where compliance with R302.5.1 or R302.5.2 is precluded by federal, state, or local laws the purpose of which is to preserve threatened or endangered species; the environment; or archaeological, cultural, historical, or significant natural features, compliance is required to the extent practicable.

As proposed in the NPRM, R302.5 would require the grade of pedestrian access routes contained within a street or highway right-of-way, except at pedestrian street crossings, to not exceed the general grade established for the adjacent street or highway; and the grade of pedestrian access routes not contained within a street or highway right-of-way to be 5 percent maximum. R302.5.1 would require the grade of pedestrian access routes contained within a pedestrian street crossing to be 5 percent maximum.

The SNPRM would renumber R302.5 to include a general provision in R302.5; the specific provision for the grade of pedestrian access routes contained within a street or highway right-of-way in R302.5.1; the specific provision for the grade of pedestrian access routes not contained within a street or highway right-of-way in R302.5.2; and the specific provision for the grade of pedestrian access routes contained within a pedestrian street crossing in R302.5.3.

The SNPRM would add new provisions at R302.5.4 and R302.5.5 that would require compliance with the grade provisions in R302.5.1 or R302.5.2 to the extent practicable where compliance is not practicable due to physical constraints and where compliance is precluded by regulatory constraints. We propose to add these new provisions in response to public comments on the ANPRM, which included draft technical provisions for grade similar to those proposed in the R302.5. The comments noted that physical or regulatory constraints may prevent full compliance with the grade provisions. Physical constraints would include existing terrain or infrastructure, right-of-way availability, a notable natural feature, or similar existing physical constraints. Regulatory constraints would include federal, state, or local laws the purpose of which is to preserve threatened or endangered species; the environment; or archaeological, cultural, historical, or significant natural features.

The proposed provisions are consistent with the AASHTO Guide. The AASHTO Guide recommends that the grade of a shared use path should not exceed 5 percent; but, where the path is adjacent to a roadway with a grade that exceeds 5 percent, the grade of the path should be less than or equal to the roadway grade. The AASHTO Guide notes that grades steeper than 5 percent are undesirable because ascents are difficult for many path users, and the descents can cause some path users to exceed the speeds at which they are competent or comfortable. See AASHTO Guide, 5.2.7 Grade.

R210 Protruding Objects

The SNPRM would revise R210 to read as follows:

R210.1 General. Protruding objects shall comply with the applicable requirements in R210.

R210.2 Pedestrian Circulation Paths Other Than Shared Use Paths. Objects along or overhanging any portion of a pedestrian circulation path other than a shared use path shall comply with R402 and shall not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes.

R210.3 Shared Use Paths. Objects shall not overhang or protrude into any portion of a shared use path at or below 2.4 m (8.0 ft) measured from the finish surface.

As proposed in the NPRM, R210 would require objects along or overhanging any portion of a pedestrian circulation path to comply with the proposed technical provisions for protruding objects in R402 and to not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes.

The SNPRM would renumber R210 to include a general provision in R210.1 and a specific provision for pedestrian circulation paths other than shared use paths in R210.2 that would require objects along or overhanging any portion of the path to comply with the proposed technical provisions for protruding objects in R402 and to not reduce the clear width required for pedestrian access routes, as proposed in the NPRM.

The SNPRM would add a new provision for shared use paths at R210.3 that would prohibit objects from overhanging or protruding into any portion of a shared use path at or below 8 feet measured from the finish surface.

The proposed provision for shared used paths is consistent with the AASHTO Guide. The AASHTO Guide recommends 10 feet vertical clearance along shared use paths, and 8 feet minimum vertical clearance in constrained areas. The AASHTO Guide recommends that fixed objects should not be permitted to protrude within the vertical or horizontal clearance of a shared use path. See AASHTO Guide, 5.2.1 Width and Clearance.

R218 Doors, Doorways, and Gates

The SNPRM would revise R218 to read as follows:

R218 Doors, Doorways, and Gates. Except for shared use paths, doors, doorways, and gates provided at pedestrian facilities shall comply with section 404 of Appendix D to 36 CFR to 36 CFR part 1191.

The SNPRM would not apply the technical provisions for doors, doorways, and gates referenced in R218 to shared use paths to avoid conflicts with the AASHTO Guide. The AASHTO Guide does not recommend the use of gates or other barriers to prevent unauthorized motor vehicle entry to shared use paths because gates and barriers create permanent obstacles to path users. The AASHTO Guide recommends alternative methods to control unauthorized motor vehicle entry to shared use paths, including posting regulatory signs prohibiting motor vehicle entry and targeted surveillance and enforcement. Where there is a documented history of unauthorized entry by motor vehicles despite the use of alternative methods to control such entry, the need for bollards or other vertical barriers may be justified. The AASHTO Guide includes recommended designs for bollards where justified. The AASHTO Guide recommends the use of one bollard in the center of the shared use path. Where more than one bollard is used, the AASHTO Guide recommends an odd number of posts spaced at 6 feet. The AASHTO Guide does not recommend two posts since they direct opposing path users toward the middle, creating conflict and the possibility of a head-on collision. See AASHTO Guide, 5.3.5 Other Intersection Treatments.

R304 Curb Ramps and Blended Transitions

The SNPRM would revise R304.5.1 to read as follows:

R304.5.1 Width. The width of curb ramps and blended transitions shall comply with 304.5.1.1 or 304.5.1.2, as applicable. If provided, flared sides of curb ramp runs and blended transitions shall be located outside the width of the curb ramp run or blended transition.

R304.5.1.1 Pedestrian Circulation Paths Other Than Shared Use Paths. In pedestrian circulation paths other than shared use paths, the clear width of curb ramp runs, blended transitions, and turning spaces shall be 1.2 m (4.0 ft) minimum.

R304.5.1.2 Shared Use Paths. In shared use paths, the width of curb ramps runs and blended transitions shall be equal to the width of the shared use path.

As proposed in the NPRM, R304.5.1 would require the clear width of curb ramp runs (excluding flared sides), blended transitions, and turning spaces to be 4 feet minimum.

The SNPRM would renumber R304.5.1 to include a general provision in R304.5.1 that would clarify that if flared sides are provided at curb ramps and blended transitions, the flared sides are to be located outside the width of the curb ramp run or blended transition; and a specific provision for pedestrian circulation paths other than shared use paths in R304.5.1.1 that would require the clear width of curb ramp runs, blended transitions, and turning spaces to be 4 feet minimum, as proposed in the NPRM.

The SNPRM would add a new provision for shared use paths at R304.5.1.2 that would require the width of curb ramps runs and blended transitions to be equal to the width of the shared use path.
The proposed provision for shared used paths is consistent with the AASHTO Guide. The AASHTO Guide recommends that where curb ramps are provided on shared use paths, the curb ramps should extend the full width of the path, not including any flared sides. See AASHTO Guide, 5.3.5 Other Intersection Treatments.