sidewalk assessment
sidewalk assessment

is your sidewalk environment compliant?

According to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all public entity facilities must provide access to services, programs, or activities for individuals with disabilities. In 2002, the US Court of Appeals held that sidewalks constitute a service, program, or activity of a city, and are therefore subject to the ADA program accessibility regulations (Barden v. City of Sacramento, 292 F.3d 1073 (9th Cir. 2002)). This means that every sidewalk environment is required to meet the accessibility guidelines to avoid discrimination and liability.

to avoid discrimination and liability,

every sidewalk environment

must meet accessibility guidelines

all public entities must:

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.105:

  1. A public entity shall, within one year of the effective date of this part, evaluate its current services, policies, and practices, and the effects thereof, that do not or may not meet the requirements of this part and, to the extent modification of any such services, policies, and practices is required, the public entity shall proceed to make the necessary modifications.
  2. A public entity shall provide an opportunity to interested persons, including individuals with disabilities or organizations representing individuals with disabilities, to participate in the self-evaluation process by submitting comments.
  3. A public entity that employs 50 or more persons shall, for at least three years following completion of the self-evaluation, maintain on file and make available for public inspection:
    1. A list of the interested persons consulted;
    2. A description of areas examined and any problems identified; and
    3. A description of any modifications made.

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.150(d)(1):

In the event that structural changes to facilities will be undertaken to achieve program accessibility, a public entity that employs 50 or more persons shall develop, within six months of January 26, 1992, a transition plan setting forth the steps necessary to complete such changes. A public entity shall provide an opportunity to interested persons, including individuals with disabilities or organizations representing individuals with disabilities, to participate in the development of the transition plan by submitting comments. A copy of the transition plan shall be made available for public inspection.

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.150(d)(3):

The plan shall, at a minimum –

    1. Identify physical obstacles in the public entity’s facilities that limit the accessibility of its programs or activities to individuals with disabilities;
    2. Describe in detail the methods that will be used to make the facilities accessible;
    3. Specify the schedule for taking the steps necessary to achieve compliance with this section and, if the time period of the transition plan is longer than one year, identify steps that will be taken during each year of the transition period; and
    4. Indicate the official responsible for implementation of the plan.

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.150(d)(2):

If a public entity has responsibility or authority over streets, roads, or walkways, its transition plan shall include a schedule for providing curb ramps or other sloped areas where pedestrian walks cross curbs, giving priority to walkways serving entities covered by the Act, including State and local government offices and facilities, transportation, places of public accommodation, and employers, followed by walkways serving other areas.

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.150(d)(3):

The plan shall, at a minimum –

    1. Identify physical obstacles in the public entity’s facilities that limit the accessibility of its programs or activities to individuals with disabilities;
    2. Describe in detail the methods that will be used to make the facilities accessible;
    3. Specify the schedule for taking the steps necessary to achieve compliance with this section and, if the time period of the transition plan is longer than one year, identify steps that will be taken during each year of the transition period; and
    4. Indicate the official responsible for implementation of the plan.

Title II of the ADA, 28 CFR Section 35.133:

    1. A public entity shall maintain in operable working condition those features of facilities and equipment that are required to be readily accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities by the Act or this part.
    2. This section does not prohibit isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access due to maintenance or repairs.
    3. If the 2010 Standards reduce the technical requirements or the number of required accessible elements below the number required by the 1991 Standards, the technical requirements or the number of accessible elements in a facility subject to this part may be reduced in accordance with the requirements of the 2010 Standards.

an environment for everyone

The public right-of-way environment can and should provide a safe and enjoyable means of transportation for all people. However, because of the broad range of user abilities, sidewalks can often times hinder or even block access. Therefore, assessing your sidewalk environment is essential and foundational in order to best serve and protect the public, meet federal regulations, and prevent any liability.

every sidewalk environment should...

Public streets and sidewalks are the common means by which individuals of a society access and participate in their community. The mode of transportation varies widely between train, automobile, foot, wheelchair, stroller, bike, and more. Public rights-of-way serve many additional functions as well, such as access to power, utility, and private property, thus adding to the complexity. With so many users and functions, public rights-of-way demand a high standard of universal design in order to meet a variety of needs and abilities. The Public Rights-of-Way Access Advisory Committee’s (PROWAAC) special report from 2007, entitled Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations, explains:

Designs are now expected to reflect equity and context and to balance pedestrian and vehicular use. The design pedestrian is now understood to be not an individual but a range of users—children, elders, people pushing or pulling strollers and delivery carts, using a wheelchair or scooter, or traveling with a long/white cane or a service animal—for all of whom the roadway and pedestrian environment must function effectively.

All individuals should be provided the right to fully participate in their communities. When certain individuals with specific abilities are not considered in the design of public rights-of-way, those individuals are inadvertently excluded from access to their communities, becoming isolated from the rest of society. Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access; Best Practices and Design Guide Part 2 states:

If neighborhoods do not have a safe, comfortable, and convenient pedestrian system, this can leave people isolated in their own homes and unable to participate in everyday activities. Given the broad influence of environmental factors on the individual’s level of function, professionals who design or construct sidewalk or trail environments have a significant influence over whether individuals will be able to use and enjoy the sidewalk and trail environments that they create….

When a person’s independence is denied because of facilities not being accessible, the person, their family, and society pays the cost of their isolation and dependence.

Limitations on the use of public facilities do not only negatively affect a significant portion of society, but now constitute a federal crime. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in private as well as state and local government sectors. By requiring access to programs and services, transportation, the built environment, employment, and communication, the ADA effectively enforces careful consideration of individuals of all abilities in the design and construction of new facilities and the alteration of existing facilities. Designing public environments for only a specific portion of society is not an option. However, the ADA requirements represent the minimum design standards. Designers are encouraged to go above and beyond the federal regulations, considering how best to creatively provide safe, comfortable, and easy access for people of all abilities.

the Law

Due to the lack of specific guidance on sidewalk accessibility, the Access Board has been developing the Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way. While these guidelines await adoption by the Department of Justice, the DOT currently identifies these accessibility guidelines as best practice for achieving sidewalk accessibility. The full proposed guidelines for the public right-of-way are available at the US Access Board website.

a big step

Are you ready? Complying with standards, reducing liability, and serving your community’s needs is no small task. Creating and maintaining an accessible sidewalk environment is a daunting step and requires an initial thorough assessment of your current status in order to develop a transition plan. Sadly, current manual sidewalk assessment methods are time consuming, expensive, and physically demanding.

But Beneficial Designs is changing the status quo.

meet PROWAP

Beneficial Designs has streamlined the first step towards developing a transition plan.

The Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP) was designed to enable entities to adequately and thoroughly assess sidewalk environments through an expedited procedure. Smoothing out the self-evaluation process saves time, money, and energy, while providing critical and in-depth sidewalk information. Tripping hazards, curb ramps, slopes, and critical features are all meticulously identified and documented, providing the comprehensive data you need at unprecedented speed.

meet PROWAP

streamlined

Beneficial Designs has streamlined the first step towards developing a transition plan.

The Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP) was designed to enable entities to adequately and thoroughly assess sidewalk environments through an expedited procedure. Smoothing out the self-evaluation process saves time, money, and energy, while providing critical and in-depth sidewalk information. Tripping hazards, curb ramps, slopes, and critical features are all meticulously identified and documented, providing the comprehensive data you need at unprecedented speed.

the digital measuring wheel measures curb ramp dimensions while standing

the smart choice

Typical manual sidewalk assessments are time consuming, inaccurate, expensive, and physically demanding. Manually assessing all the elements at one curb ramp requires bending or kneeling down over 22 times! Research has proven that jobs requiring stopping, squatting, or kneeling positions contribute to serious knee and back injuries and disorders.

In contrast, PROWAP provides an automated and streamlined method for sidewalk environment data collection, reducing assessment time by up to 90%. Plus, no more constant up and down movements. Our state-of-the-art tools are designed for standing operation, providing an efficient, cost-effective, and healthy solution for self-evaluation.

the wise choice

Because our assessment process collects comprehensive, quantitative data, the stored information may be analyzed for compliance with any future changes to accessibility guidelines and standards.

leap into GIS

Collected data is directly imported into a GIS database, providing a complete layer of geo-referenced data to meet management and planning needs. Data can be easily and clearly analyzed and utilized to create the final transition plan in order to meet accessibility requirements.

compliance data is visually displayed in GIS maps

start the process

Beneficial Designs sidewalk assessment experts are ready to assess your sidewalk infrastructure today. Don’t waste any time.
Learn more about our four-step Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process today!