The Riverfront Heritage Trail is a fully accessible, 15-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway that winds through the oldest and most historic parts of bi-state Kansas City. A sharp turn with raised curbs or pavers can be a trip hazard for pedestrians and strollers as well as an impediment to wheelchairs.
The Riverfront Heritage Trail is a fully accessible, 15-mile bicycle and pedestrian pathway that winds through the oldest and most historic parts of bi-state Kansas City. A sharp turn with raised curbs or pavers can be a trip hazard for pedestrians and strollers as well as an impediment to wheelchairs.

Question: Do wheelchair users prefer a 45-degree angle or more of a sweeping curve when making a turn? I assume a right angle is quicker and easier than propelling a wheelchair through a long turn, but I could be wrong. — Mike, Wisconsin

Answer: I want to make it clear that my answer is opinion, not regulation. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not have a requirement for either design.

A sharp turn with raised curbs or pavers can be a trip hazard for pedestrians and strollers as well as an impediment to wheelchairs. However, space restrictions often make them the only option around buildings and intersecting sidewalks adjacent to streets, although I have seen instances where very wide sidewalks with landscaping allowed for a curve.

A sweeping curve is softer, conveying a relaxed atmosphere and making walking and turning easier in parks, walkways for residential facilities related to nursing homes, hospitals, and office buildings. I prefer the curve for its Zen affect of adding to a more relaxed atmosphere and ease of traversing.

Also, very often a longer curved in steeper slopes helps bring the path to the 1:12 ratio required by the ADA.

I leave it up to you to decide which you prefer.