Question: Does Figure 403.5.1 – Clear Width of an Accessible Route apply to buildings (like hallways) and sidewalks within the public right of way? We want to provide sufficient space around trees that encroach sidewalks but aren’t candidates for removal. Specifically, may we narrow a 60-inch sidewalk to 32 inches for 2 feet and then widen it to 3 feet? — Ezra, Indiana
Answer: As usual, there’s no simple yes or no answer.
For new construction
Per the Proposed Supplements to Proposed Accessibility Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way, you can’t go under the minimum 4-foot width.
Although the following text isn’t the final rule, I encourage you to use it as a best practice to defend against possible complaints. In their decision-making, the U.S. Justice Department and courts usually take into account any efforts that show a public agency was trying to follow the spirit of the law.
R302.3 Continuous Width. Except as provided in R302.3.1, the continuous clear width of pedestrian access routes shall be 4 feet minimum, exclusive of curb width.
Advisory R302.3 Continuous Width. Applies to:
Sidewalks and other pedestrian circulation paths
- Pedestrian street crossings and at grade rail crossings
- Pedestrian overpasses and underpasses and similar structures (see R302.2).
Clear width requirements for curb ramps and blended transitions: R304.5.1. For ramps: R407.4.
Where sidewalks are wider than 4 feet, only a portion is required to comply with R302.3 through R302.7. Provide additional maneuvering space at turns or changes in direction, transit stops, recesses and alcoves, building entrances, and along curved or angled routes, particularly where the grade exceeds 5%.
R210 prohibits street furniture and other objects from reducing the minimum clear width of pedestrian access routes.
Next page: For existing facilities