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Landscape Architects' Comments Needed on Shared-use Paths

The 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. 

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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 percent or, if contained within a street or highway right-of-way, the general grade of adjacent street or highway, though it 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.

This supplemental rule is responsive to feedback the board received from the public on its proposed rights-of-way guidelines as well as on separate guidelines it is developing for trails and outdoor developed areas. 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 (http://www.access-board.gov/sup/anprm.htm).

The proposed supplemental provisions on shared-use paths are further described in a published notice that includes instructions for submitting comment. The deadline for comments is May 14, 2013.

For further information, visit the board’s website, or contact Scott Windley at row@access-board.gov, (202) 272-0025 (voice), or (202) 272-0028 (TTY). Also, please share your comments with ASLA by contacting Roxanne Blackwell, director of Federal Government Affairs, at rblackwell@asla.org.

For additional background information and resources on the U.S. Access Board and design for public rights-of-way design, please visit ASLA’s Accessible Design Issue Brief.

Comments
stkelly@kdgllc.com April 18, 2013 3:59 PM
Landscape Architects are charged with protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. As part of this scope we must assume protecting the least able to fend for themselves. In the public realm that typically means those with varying degrees of physical or visual challenge. The guidelines must comply with or exceed the ADA requirements for color and texture change as well as grades. More stringent applications, like Title 24 in California may be the minimums for some specific applications. This should be an interactive and site specific decision with general guidelines that limit the opportunity for specific and egregious failure.
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