US Access Board seeks public comment on revised regulations for shared use paths design

Courtesy of the National Center on Accessibility

The U.S. Access Board has released for public comment proposed requirements for accessible shared use paths used by pedestrians, bicyclists, and others for transportation or recreation. These requirements would supplement guidelines the Board is developing for public rights-of-way that were previously made available for comment. The supplemental rule was published in the Federal Register on February 13, 2013.

The proposed rights-of-way guidelines, which cover access to sidewalks, streets, and other pedestrian facilities, provide requirements for pedestrian access routes, including specifications for route width, grade, cross slope, surfaces, and other features. The Board’s proposal would apply these and other relevant requirements to shared use paths as well. It also would add new provisions tailored to shared use paths that address grade, cross slope, surfaces, and protruding objects. One provision, for example, specifies that the grade of shared use paths not exceed 5% or, if contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the general grade of adjacent street or highway but includes an exception where constraints imposed by terrain, infrastructure, or other factors make compliance impracticable. In addition, curb ramps and blended transitions located along shared use paths would be required to extend the full path width.

Comments from the public on these rules urged the Board to specifically address access to shared use paths since they are distinct from sidewalks and trails. Shared use paths, unlike most sidewalks, are physically separated from streets by an open space or barrier. They also differ from trails because they are designed not just for recreation purposes but for transportation as well. In addition, the Board invited comment on this subject in an earlier notice.

The public is encouraged to submit comment through May 14, 2013. Follow the directions in the Federal Register to submit comments through www.regulations.gov

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