August 8, 2023
Source: U.S. Access Board
Pedestrians with disabilities throughout the United States continue to face major challenges in travel because many sidewalks, crosswalks, and other pedestrian facilities are inaccessible. Today, the U.S. Access Board addressed this inequity by issuing a final rule on accessibility guidelines for pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way. These guidelines inform federal, state, and local government agencies on how to make their pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, shared use paths, and on-street parking, accessible to people with disabilities.
“The Access Board is proud to issue these guidelines as a critical step toward equal access to the public right-of-way for people with disabilities in America,” remarked Executive Director Sachin Pavithran. “Equal access to pedestrian facilities is crucial because pedestrian travel is the principal means of independent transportation for many people with disabilities.”
The guidelines cover the minimum scoping and technical requirements for various spaces and elements in the public right-of-way, such as pedestrian access routes, which ensure the accessibility of sidewalks, including alternate access routes when the main route is closed for maintenance or construction. Other highlights in the requirements include accessible pedestrian signals, curb ramps and blended transitions, detectable warning surfaces, crosswalks at roundabouts, on-street parking, transit stops, and street furniture. In addition, the guidelines address shared use paths, which are designed primarily for use by bicyclists, pedestrians and other authorized motorized and non-motorized users for transportation purposes and recreation purposes.
The public right-of-way accessibility guidelines apply to alterations and additions to existing pedestrian facilities in the public right-of-way as well as newly constructed pedestrian facilities covered under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Title II of the ADA applies to state and local government facilities, and the ABA requires that buildings or facilities that were designed, built, or altered with federal dollars or leased by federal agencies after August 12, 1968 be accessible. Section 504 covers any program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, including those that require compliance with federal regulations established by Department of Housing and Urban Development, the United States Postal Service, and other agencies.
The guidelines will be mandatory after they are adopted for enforcement by the Department of Justice and the Department of Transportation under Title II of the ADA. They will be mandatory for federal rights-of-way once adopted by the General Services Administration, the Department of Defense, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Postal Service under the ABA, which requires that facilities built or leased by the Federal government be accessible to people with disabilities.
The Access Board provides free technical assistance on accessibility guidelines and standards through its helpline at 1-202-272-0080, extension 3, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET) weekdays. For technical assistance specifically on accessibility of public right-of-way, including sidewalks, street crossings, and other pedestrian used features, email email@example.com.