Accessible Public Rights-of-Way: Open Question & Answer Session

Thursday, June 6, 2019
2:30 PM Eastern Time Zone


Ensuring that public streets and sidewalks are accessible to people with disabilities can be a challenge, especially since accessibility guidelines for public rights-of-way have yet to be finalized. This session will be devoted to answering the various questions that come up in addressing access to sidewalks and street crossings, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, roundabouts, transit stops and other components of public rights-of-way as well as shared use paths. Access Board Accessibility Specialists will answer questions submitted in advance or during the live webinar and offer guidance, solutions, and best practices based on guidelines the Access Board proposed for public rights-of-way. Attendees are encouraged to submit their questions in advance.

Continuing Education Recognition Available

Certificate Credit hours
Certificate of Attendance 1.5
ICC 1.5


Juliet Shoultz, Transportation Engineer, Office of Technical and Information Services

Scott Windley, Accessibility Specialist, Office of Technical and Information Services

Questions for presenters:

1 Besides BuyAccessible or VPAT, is there a checklist (or a series of checklists) that we can use when buy ICT products?
2 Many roadway agencies have adopted the practice/requirement of upgrading curb ramps during repaving (i.e., an alteration). Is there a similar requirement for upgrading transit stops to meet ADA requirements when the adjacent street is repaved?
3 I understand that shared use paths are supposed to be limited to 5% maximum running slope where feasible. However, that is often not feasible in areas such as mine that often feature steep topography. Can these requirements be changed to the rules currently in force for trails (i.e. 12:1 up to 200', etc.), or, alternatively, what tests does one have to meet to prove that the 5% running slope requirement is not feasible in a certain case?
4 What are the guidelines for the ever increasing popularity of Street Cafes ?
5 Who is responsible for upgrades to bus stops? they are a transit facility but found in the public rights of way.
6 1. Is it legal for a person in a wheelchair to ride in a marked bicycle lane on the street? 2. I have been in a wheelchair for 40+ years. It is becoming more more difficult to wheel downtown with all the sidewalk cafés. Increasingly sidewalk cafés place their tables and chairs closer and closer to the curb. This makes it very dangerous to falling over the curb into the street Who do I contact in cases like this? 3. More & more trees are planted on sidewalks enclosed by steel grates. The center hole for these grates must have a certain radius to allow for growth. I have fallen into a few of these holes, almost falling out of my chair. What are the guidelines for the radius of these grates?
7 When/where are crosswalks required to be striped?
8 Balancing the needs of diverse populations of persons with disabilities. How can the deployment of tactile warning surface indicators ensure that pedestrians who are blind receive adequate warning and are not directed into the centre of intersections. And, how can these techniques mittigate the impact, real or perceived on persons relying on the use of mobility devices. How much warning is adequate, are the dimentions of the TWSI adequate? Round abouts: Research, all be it sparce, has been done on round about design and accessibility, but has it been validated given the prevelence of these emerging trafic structures?
9 When are curb-ramps, traffic signals, and counter-slopes considered regulated as part of a "site," and when, in contrast, are they considered "non-regulated" elements of the public rights of way? How does the Access Board's position on "public rights of way" square with Title II's regulation of government services?
10 What options are you looking at to try to finalize the Public Rights of Way Guidelines? Any congress help etc.?
11 What is the maximum cross slope for a sidewalk in the ROW, that crosses a private driveway? The existing driveways have a slope much greater than 2%.
12 Best Practice suggestions for Curb Ramps at intersections with steep grades >1:10, in both parallel to main circulation and perpendicular?. How about when both parallel and perpendicular routes have grades steeper than 1:10?.
13 Must marked access aisles have a direct connection to a sidewalk curb ramp?
14 How best to apply the 15' limit to catch grade on a Curb Ramp?
15 In the public right-of-way, a sidewalk running slope is permitted to exceed 5% and match the running grade of the adjoining roadway when the roadway running grade is more than 5%. Are landing areas required at the beginning and end of sidewalks when transitioning from a running slope exceeding 5% (and matching the existing roadway slope) to a running slope that is less than 5%?
16 1) When designing curbless streets and side walks, what tactile and other warnings would be required and where would they be placed, in addition to intersections, to ensure blind pedestrains will not walk into the moving traffic. 2) For typical on street parking with curbs only that do not offer mid bloc curb cuts to reach the sidewalk, and only offer curb cuts at intersections, what are requirements now to ensure that wheelchair users do not have to travel in the street often in heavy in traffic, all the way to the end of the bloc intersection, to get onto the sidewalk so they can reach a parking meter. 3) What is the required minimum width of a public sidewalk. Are there any exceptions?
17 Can accessible parking spaces be eliminated if a parking lane is changed to a bicycle lane?
18 Can you help me understand why a 5% cross-slope is acceptable when the crosswalk is in a signalized or no-signal intersection, as permitted in R302.6.1? Seems like a cross slope greater than 2% is detrimental to accessibility and shouldn't be permitted unless potential remedies are not feasible or prudent.
19 In the scenario that a property owner does not have enough accessible parking spaces, is it acceptable to provide 2 in the parking lot (max. which can be provided without losing req'd parking count) and locate a 3rd accessible parking space on-street. If said option is provided, is it the property owner's or city's responsibility to provide the space and level the brick street? How does the on-street parking not require an access aisle? Is it a correct assumption that the on-street would not be van accessible so that 1 of the parking lot spaces would have to provide the van accessible space?
20 Why aren't truncated domes required where driveway cuts cross over public sidewalks? With local jurisdictions requiring the public sidewalks to continue behind the descending slope of the driveway to the roadway (to avoid excessive cross slopes) seems to be creating a hazardous condition that the visually impaired should have adequate warning.
21 1. Are city sidewalks adjacent to designated accessible on-street parking spaces required to comply with the 2010 access aisle requirements to the maximum extent feasible in that they must be accessible and connect to an accessible route? 2. Are city sidewalks adjacent to designated accessible on-street parking spaces required to be unobstructed and of a firm and stable surface (for example, no landscaping, signs (except for the "accessible" signage on the sidewalk at the head of the parking space), trees, raised surfaces or other obstructions along the sidewalk adjacent to the designated accessible space)?
22 Will DOT delete the requirements for detectable warnings (DW) because no safety tests were done per the Japanese inventor, have been proven hazardous causing foot entrapment, flipping wheelchairs forward dumping the wheelchair user and all they were carrying on their lap in the roadway, tripping an ambulatory person causing brain damage, causes excessive vibration, trying to cross quickly causes the wheels to leave the adjacent surface, require to go slow causing the most force to ascend a curb ramp DW placed at the bottom edge, fact that all major box stores removed their detectable warnings, holds snow and ice at curb ramps if not maintained, no federally requirements for flatness of installation, or limits of application, or grinding cut edges, extremely expensive for municipalities to maintain, and worry about children falling face first on the domes. Recommend deleting the requirements or making an alternate safe wheelchair and elderly route around the domes.
23 1) Are flat landing areas required at the tops and bottom of "curb ramps" where a turning space is not required? PROWAG provides separate requirements for "ramps" and "curb ramps" and it appears that flat landing areas are required for "ramps" but not "curb ramps". Please confirm. 2) When a turning space is constrained, in what direction should the 5.0 foot min. dimension be provided? There is a discrepancy in PROWAG between the text and the figure. The text (Section R304.3.1) indicates it should be in the direction of the pedestrian street crossing, however the figure (Figure R304.3.1) shoes it perpendicular to the pedestrian street crossing. 3) Is Belgian block curb acceptable where curb ramps are provided? If so, are there particular specifications regarding the surface of the depressed Belgian block curb in the area of the curb ramp (smoothness, etc.).
24 Is there a requirement as to the maximum distance between an accessible entrance to the facility and the public transportation stop serving this site?
25 PROWAG Section R304.5.5 says that a 4.0'x4.0' clear space is required beyond the bottom grade break of a curb ramp. If the grading is such that there is no grade break in the immediate vicinity, where should the clear space be measured from (edge of DWS, back of curb, face of curb, etc.)? This is particularly relevant with curb ramps along an intersection corner radius where the edge of the DWS is not necessarily colinear with the back of curb.
26 I my regional area there are sometimes paved and unpaved shoulder areas alongside roads/streets, without a sidewalk, but is expected to allow pedestrian foot traffic. This is not common, but in one case the planning department decided to eliminate a gate connecting one such paved shoulder to a commercial parking lot, as it was requested by the property owner. This seems like a step backward in terms of ADA enforcement. Could I get an opinion?
27 For double perpendicular curb ramps, that are adjacent to detached sidewalks, does the interior flare, which is not in an apparent pedestrian circulation route, need to meet 1:10?
28 Locally, different forms of APS have been installed. In one municipality, the devices indicate safety to cross the street by chirps, with different chirp patterns for the different directions of crossing the intersection. In another municipality, the device verbally indicates which street it is safe to cross. When the second type was introduced in the first municipality, it was said that the differentiated chirps were the gold standard for assisting those with visual disabilities. It seems a verbal announcement gives an audirtory announcement and information for those who understand its language, so why is this not the appropriate standard for APS installation?
29 When are municipalities required to upgrade non compliant ramps or sidewalks that are in the public R/W, but are not at intersections? One example is a ramp on an approach slab that transitions from the elevation of the walk on the bridge, to the lower elevation of the sidewalk off the bridge that exceeds 8.3%. Another example is cross slope of sidewalk crossing a driveway exceeding 2%. Resurfacing does not require the upgrading of either of these examples. When would these facilities be required to be upgraded? It could be decades before the bridge needs to be rehabilitated or sidewalk and drives replaced.
30 Most curb ramps that are constructed are retrofitted into existing facilities. Frequently, it is not possible or practicable to construct a curb ramp that meets every aspect of ADA requirements. For example, the running slope and turning space slopes can be met, but the flare slopes or gutter counter slopes cannot be met. Is there a preference on which aspects of curb ramps are most important and should be prioritized over others to develop a best fit solution?
31 Can you discuss best practices for detailing curb ramps in plans? What level of detail is recommended to review and construct curb ramps?
32 PROWAG contains unadopted guidelines that allow for facilities to be constructed that are less accessible as permitted by federal and some state laws. Specifically, PROWAG allows the slopes of sidewalks and crosswalks to exceed the maximum allowable slopes for walking surfaces as specified in the ADAS and California Building Code. Therefore, PROWAG permits the construction of facilities that do not meet minimum accessibility standards. Even if/when PROWAG is adopted, the provisions of the ADAS and CBC that are more restrictive/more accessible than PROWAG provisions will rule and PROWAG will not apply in those instances. How does this square? What are we to do when entities insist on using PROWAG when it permits non compliant pedestrian facilities per state and federal laws?
33 Over time, our jurisdiction has found some ramps that were originally installed within acceptable slopes are now deficient (i.e. settlement/soil consolidation, concrete shrinkage/expansion). Are local jurisdictions required to reconstruct these ramps also as part of a roadway alteration (street resurfacing?) project .
34 WHAT accessibility standards MUST be followed in the public way and WHEN?
35 WHEN are diagonal curb ramps allowed/appropriate instead of two separate curb ramps directly across from crosswalks in each direction?
36 Can you please provide some clarity on the definition of a "traffic signal that is designed for the green phase" (Advisory R302.6.1)? For example, at a four way signalized intersection, would the major street be designed for the green phase and therefore the crosswalk could be 5% maximum cross slope, but the minor street be required to meet the 2% maximum? Or is there a situation where all four crossings of the intersection are allowed to be 5% maximum cross slope?
37 The SNPRM on Shared Use Paths would add a new provision at R302.3.2 pertaining to the minimum width. Can you clarify the absolute minimum width required by the access board for Shared Use Paths, including shoulders? AASHTO guidance functionally recommends a minimum 10' path width (8' in rare circumstances). Is the absolute minimum path width required by the Access board 8' or 10'? Additionally, pertaining to shoulder widths, AASHTO allows 1' shoulders next to "smooth" features such as longitudinal barriers or fences but recommends 2'. Is the SNPRM going to address minimum shoulder/shy widths? For example, on a new bridge, would a 10' path between two bridge barriers meet the SNPRM minimum requirements (8' + 1' +1')? Or is 12' the minimum (10' + 1' + 1')?
38 Without the allowance of the exception provided in R207.2, should PROWAG R207.1 be interpreted to require that where curb ramps are altered or constructed new, they should be a directional design or blended transition design, and not diagonal? The provision requires a ramp be provided at each crossing. At a four way intersection, there are two pedestrian street crossings on each corner - each crossing in line with the boundary of the sidewalk that prolongates across the street. Does this mean that a single diagonal ramp on the apex of the radius would not be considered as providing a ramp at each crossing, since this one diagonal ramp serves both crossings? Additionally, the provision requires the ramp (excluding the flared sides) shall be contained with the street crossing. The ramp run of a diagonal curb ramp is not contained within either of the street crossings, as it's oriented toward the center of the intersection and not in-line with the prolongation of the sidewalk across the intersection.
39 Regulations issued by the Federal Communications Commission that were effective in January 2019, now allow the installation of nodes for wireless towers along with equipment cabinets on PROWs, close to buildings, as a matter of right, with no public notification or review permitted by local government planning and zoning authorities. How does the U.S. Access Board plan to address the potential problems that may arise if those who are physically or environmentally disabled people may encounter access problems, such as transferring from a wheelchair to a car, or, maintaining private property, especially if these nodes are located in front of residencies where normal life activities like getting from a building to a car, walking along the sidewalk, property maintenance, socializing with neighbors, especially where these nodes are located in front of private residences.
40 Has the U.S. Access Board considered developing an emergency preparedness plan to assist those with physical and/or environmental disabilities if they are being harmed from the radiation transmission from the small cell antennas that will be on the small cell towers that are being installed on the PROW across the U.S. Will a low/no EMF emergency shelter be established to provide safe house for persons whose health has been affected. Will there be available and accessible medical and social services for refugees whose health and well-being is adversely affected by artificial EMF can stay for a transitional period, where immediate care and planning for longer term housing and supportive services is offered? Would the U.S. Access Board consider proposing policies that permit the creation of "safe zones", low/no artificial EMF environments, where electromagnetically sensitive people can not only live, but thrive?
41 How does the U.S. Access Board plan to address the potential for electromagnetic interference from the radiation transmissions from wireless nodes on PROWs and from Smart Meters on buildings to disable medical implants, such as deep brain stimulators? Those who have medical implants take precautionary steps to avoid exogenous signals. With the advent of small cell towers on nodes by buildings, particularly residences, and smart meters being located on buildings, which have the capability to read sensors inside the buildings, it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid such signals, particularly when those affected have right of access to the quiet enjoyment of their private property. Why should the burden to ensure health protection be placed on the person who is being involuntarily exposed and may be harmed by that exposure? See the International EMF Scientist Appeal now signed by 247 scientists in 42 nations.
42 Can you please discuss this topic as it relates to university campuses?
43 Delete question #22
44 Please provide input on leaving (or not replacing) slightly out of compliance curb ramps associated with a road resurfacing project in favor of using the money to address other, egregious curb ramps.
45 Rights-of-way are becoming inaccessible to those with electromagnetic sensitivity (EMS), with the planned and current installation of wireless "small cells" for 4G/5G on street poles, up and down city, town, and rural streets. Can the US Access Board make recommendations to keep these "small cells" far away from proximity to the 3% (at minimum) of EMS disabled people? They cannot even be in their homes, or leave their homes in many cases, and are becoming homeless as a result.
46 If the Public Rights of Way are limited to being just between the curbs, how does PROWAG apply to this type situation? The sidewalk facilities would then be on private property in pedestrian access easements. Can those sidewalks follow the slope of the roadway in this situation?
47 Since diagonal ramps are to be the last resort, what type of paperwork needs to be kept to prove that it was the last resort? Does it need to be signed by an architect or engineer?
48 Proposed Access Board Guidelines clarify "that where elements, spaces, or facilities are altered, each altered element, space, or facility within the scope of the project must comply with the applicable requirements for new construction (see R202.3). The phrase "within the scope of the project" is intended to focus on whether the alteration project presents an opportunity to design the altered element, space, or facility in an accessible manner. It is not intended for additional work to be done outside the scope of the project." How does this reconcile with DOT/DOJ Technical Assistance Guidance that an alteration, specifically an overlay, requires curb ramps to be upgraded to meet current standards unless they meet the safe harbor definition? Replacement of pedestrian curb ramps is typically not in the scope of overlay projects.
49 How does Title II come into play in regards to public parking at a government facility, for example a county courthouse? If the building provides no separate parking facility, is the County required to create a facility to accommodate those individuals with disabilities? The County does have a driveway, used primarily for law enforcement and large deliveries, yet it has never been officially designated specifically for that use. Because that entrance is also considered the accessible entrance for the building, does the County have to create a designated space in that region for handicapped parking?
50 Does a government building, mandated by Title II, have to comply with the parking provisions if it does not own or provide a separate parking facility? More specifically, if the county Auditor’s office is considered a polling place for voters, does the County have to provide additional accessible parking spots other than the street parking spots that are used by both the employees and the general public?

Session Questions

This session is accepting questions from registered users. After you have registered to participate in this session you can submit your questions on your Account Manager page. Please note: the number of questions will be limited and submissions will be closed well before the session starts to provide time to prepare answers.