1. Sidewalk Width
The ADA requires that sidewalks be designed with a minimum width of 36 inches along the route to ensure that people who use wheelchairs, walkers, or other mobility aids can safely pass. If additional space is needed for passing, or if sidewalks are shared by those using motorized devices, the width should be increased accordingly.
ADA-compliant sidewalks should allow for a maximum grade of no more than 5 percent (1:20 ratio) in any direction, and the slope should be consistent along the entire length. Curb ramps and other transitions should also use this same 5 percent maximum when transitioning between different surfaces or levels.
3. Cross Slope
Cross slopes are used to help with drainage on curbside edges. ADA requires that cross slopes must not exceed 2 percent in any direction (1:50 ratio). This helps ensure wheelchair users can safely traverse across the sidewalk without tipping over from too steep of an incline.
The surface material of ADA-compliant sidewalks must be even and stable, with no abrupt changes. The surface should be slip-resistant to ensure safe travel for all users, regardless of the weather. Materials such as concrete, asphalt or rubberized surfaces are commonly used in sidewalk construction.
5. Edge Treatments
Edges of sidewalks should have a smooth transition between different levels or materials used on the sidewalk. This edge treatment helps prevent tripping hazards and ensures that wheelchair users can safely go up or down any inclines without disruption.
6. Detectable Warnings
ADA-compliant sidewalks require detectable warnings along edges near roadways for people who are visually impaired. These detectable warnings can consist of raised truncated domes, stripes, or other tactile indicators to help keep people safe when crossing.
7. Curb Ramps, Landings and Blended Transitions
Curb ramps provide access to crosswalks or other areas of the sidewalk where there are changes in level or grade. ADA compliant curb ramps must meet certain criteria, such as having a minimum width of 36 inches and a maximum slope no greater than 8.33 percent (1:12). Landing areas should also be provided at the top and bottom of each ramp to allow for adequate turning space.
8. Street Furniture
Street furniture such as benches, trash cans, bike racks, etc., should be installed with consideration for users with disabilities. The furniture should not block the sidewalk path or impede travel in any way.
Proper lighting is necessary to ensure safe travel on sidewalks, especially for people with visual impairments. The ADA requires that all sidewalk paths should be well-lit to ensure visibility at night and in other low-light conditions.
10. Signs and Markings
Signs and markings should be used to clearly indicate any directions or warnings along the sidewalk path. These can include traffic direction signs, accessible route signage, turning arrows, etc., which help guide users of all abilities safely through the area.
11. Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)
Where appropriate, Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) should be included along sidewalks to provide audible cues for people with visual impairments. These signals provide the user with an indication of when it is safe to cross a street or intersection safely and efficiently.
12. Hazard Removal
Sidewalks should be free from any tripping hazards or items that could impede travel for people with disabilities. This includes objects such as tree roots, utility poles, street furniture, uneven surfaces, or any other obstructions that prevent a safe path. It is important to ensure that sidewalks are clear of these hazards for all users.
13. Openings in the Sidewalk or Curb Ramp
ADA-compliant sidewalks must have openings that are at least 36 inches wide to provide easy access for wheelchair users. These openings should be placed in strategic locations along the sidewalk and should not block the path of travel or disrupt the flow.