Proposed design guidelines for public rights-of-way

Submit A Comment | View Comments


I know I promised last month to continue discussing door issues and solutions. But I feel the U.S. Access Board’s upcoming Proposed Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights of Way deserve immediate attention. (Don’t worry -- I’ll return to doors next month. Unless, of course, you e-mail me with questions related to this topic.)

First, some background.

Though the Americans with Disabilities Act is 20 years old, for the most part enforceable standards are limited to facilities. However, they address features, like curb ramps that are common to sidewalks for facility sites. Guidelines for off-facility sites such as public sidewalks, intersections, signal lights, transportation stops, etc. needed separate guidelines in order to ensure the public rights of way are accessible to everyone.

In 1999, the board appointed a committee with representatives from disability rights advocates, public works and engineering groups, and rule-making bodies to resolve how and to what extent a community’s disabled residents can use pedestrian networks. I was fortunate to be able to serve on this committee. In 2005, a draft was written that could at least be used as a best practice approach and the same committee published an excellent manual for improving existing conditions.

The Access Board made the following announcement in its most recent newsletter (6/16/11):

    The Board plans to release for public comment proposed guidelines for public rights-of-way later this summer. These guidelines will address access to sidewalks, street crossings, and other components of pedestrian networks for people with disabilities, including those with vision impairments. Through this rulemaking, the Board seeks to establish design criteria for pedestrian access routes, curb ramps and blended transitions, pedestrian signals, on-street parking, street furniture, and other elements that take into account constraints unique to public streets and sidewalks, including space limitations and terrain.

    The guidelines are currently under review by the Office of Budget and Management. If cleared on schedule, the Board anticipates publishing its proposed rule in late July or August. At that time, the Board plans to release the guidelines at a public event and press conference at the Board's conference space. In addition, the Board will conduct a webinar to review the rule and will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C. and Dallas. The guidelines will be available for comment for several months and will be posted to for review and comment.

The board’s free bi-monthly newsletter can benefit all public works professionals (click here to subscribe). The newsletter will keep you informed of the latest research and rulemaking processes and comes via e-mail unless you request a slow mail version.

To receive updates on this rulemaking and information on planned outreach activities, add yourself to the board's rights-of-way subscription list.



Be the first to add a comment to this post.

Comment on this Post

Post your comment below. If you wish, enter a username and password though they are not required. Please read our Content Guidelines before posting.


Enter the code shown in the image

Username is optional


Enter a password if you want a username


About the Blogger

Michele Ohmes

thumbnail image Michele S. Ohmes is an Americans with Disabilities Act specialist and wheelchair user who works with public works departments, facility managers, and contractors. Her design manual — ADA and Accessibility: Let's Get Practical — is available on CD-ROM through the American Public Works Association's Web site. Author's note: Michele & Associates does not render legal advice and has no enforcement authority regarding the ADA or other federal disability-rights legislation.