assess

sidewalk assessment services

assess

sidewalk assessment services

ready to collect

Beneficial Designs is here to assist you in executing your sidewalk self-evaluation plan, providing you with everything you need to begin making the transition to federal accessibility compliance and equal access for all. Our experienced assessment experts are able to travel and assess any sidewalk environment.

When we finish the assessment of your sidewalk infrastructure, you will have completed the physical portion of the self-evaluation process to create your agency’s Transition Plan. You will be able to import the data into your GIS database so you will have a complete layer of geo-referenced data for your management and planning needs. From there you can analyze the data and use it to create a Transition Plan to meet your ADA Accessibility Requirements.

collection demonstration

Watch as we demonstrate a typical sidewalk assessment using the Public Right-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP). Continue reading below to learn more about the entire process.

the assessment

sidewalk assessment from start to finish

sidewalk assessment from start to finish

step 1 plan

Before you assess…

step 2 assess

Collecting the data.

step 3 process

Making data usable and visual.

step 4 deliver

See the end products.

step 1 plan

what is the area to be assessed?

Before beginning a sidewalk assessment, describe the area to be assessed.
What is the area? Is it a city? Is it a college?
How many miles of sidewalk you need to assess?

who performs the assessment?

Beneficial Designs has fully trained staff that regularly perform the Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP) for numerous clients across the country.

identify all critical features to be collected

One of the benefits of the Public Rights-of-Way Assessment is that detailed and accurate feature data is collected for long term use. Rather than merely indicating compliance or non-compliance, assessment coordinators are able to quickly record objective information for each feature. This data can be analyzed for compliance with any standard. If the standards change, the measured data can be used to determine compliance.

Beneficial Designs has created assessments for over 30 different sidewalk feature types. These include features like boarding platforms, transit shelters, benches, pedestrian, push buttons, ramps, stairs, tables, parking spaces, and pedestrian signs. Any and all of the features are available for collection, depending on the needs of the client.

what is the budget?

Let us know what kind of budget you are planning so we can work with you.

what is the project time frame?

How much time is available for the project? When is the absolute deadline?

Assessing sidewalks takes time and is not always possible if the sidewalks are covered in snow. When is the best time for your sidewalks to be assessed? The number of miles of sidewalks will help determine the speed at which the assessment can take place.

Our team of sidewalk coordinators are ready to travel, train, and assess.

step 2 assess

the process

We recognize that your highest priority is to efficiently identify and address all hazards and potential liabilities. Manual sidewalk assessment methods are time consuming and physically demanding; so we have developed the Public Rights-of-Way Assessment Process (PROWAP) to quickly and efficiently assess your sidewalk environment. Our automated sidewalk assessment process focuses on four main areas of liability in the public right-of-way environment:

1. Pathway Obstructions (Tripping Hazards)
2. Curb Ramps
3. Pathway Characteristics
4. Critical Features

Assessment of these four areas provides a comprehensive report that will identify and detail all hazards and potential liabilities.

the digital height measuring device measures a vertical transition between sidewalk panels

1. pathway obstructions (tripping hazards)

If the transition height between sidewalk panels is greater than 0.25 inches, you have a liability. If a citizen in your community is hurt tripping on that transition, you have a confirmed and potentially expensive liability. One of the most common causes of personal injury cases in America involves an individual tripping on a sidewalk or walkway. Cities, business owners, and private property owners are often unaware of the responsibility to maintain the sidewalk environment, ensuring that the path of travel is free of any unsafe conditions.

assessing pathway obstructions

A complete assessment of the sidewalk corridor is the only way to identify these potential hazards in a responsible and proactive manner. PROWAP enables this assessment to be performed with speed, accuracy, and efficiency. The Beneficial Designs Digital Height Measurement Device (DHMD) eliminates the normal physical demand of kneeling or squatting to identify trip hazards. The collected data not only provides the geo-referenced position and information of each tripping hazard, but also enables an efficient calculation of the cost and the total volume of concrete necessary for repair.

the digital measuring wheel measures the width of a curb ramp

2. curb ramps

The curb ramp is the basic unit of accessibility in a pedestrian circulation area. A critical element of the sidewalk environment, the curb ramp provides the essential connection between sidewalk and street crossing for pedestrians. The design of curb ramps, however, may often hinder access for certain individuals or, worse, pose serious threats to public safety. Curb ramps without sufficient detectable warning surfaces fail to alert users with visual impairment of the sidewalk boundary and oncoming traffic. Steep or fluctuating planes incorporated into curb ramps can cause instability and tipping for users of mobility devices. The safety risks involved with the design of curb ramps are serious and many.

Determining compliance of a single curb ramp with the Proposed Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities in the Public Right-of-Way necessitates the measurement of length, width, grade, and cross-slope of eleven different elements. Manual collection of each of these measurements requires bending or kneeling down over 22 times at one curb ramp, which is an additional potential liability!

assessing curb ramps

In contrast, PROWAP streamlines curb ramp assessment, requiring only 10-20% of the time required to conduct a manual curb ramp assessment. The PROWAP hardware and software guides the workflow and simplifies the data collection process, saving time, money, and effort. Key information collected by PROWAP enables engineers and maintenance managers to establish and plan the amount of repair necessary to remedy any access barriers created by curb ramps. Electronically stabilized automatic sensors mounted to the PROWAP cart quickly measure and record all of the required slope data to within 0.1%. When the cart wheel base length exceeds the length of ramp flares, the sensor box may be removed and used to measure the slopes of the flares. Dimensions are automatically recorded using the digital measuring wheel (DMW) apart from any manual data entry.

the PROWAP cart collects slope information while rolling

3. pathway characteristics

The pedestrian access route is comprised of four main elements: cross slope, tread width, surface quality, and grade. Each of these characteristics significantly affect the accessibility and usability of a pathway. Even mild values for each of the four elements, when combined, can lead to an inaccessible sidewalk.

cross slope

By far the most critical element of pathway characteristics is the cross slope. According to the ADA, a cross slope is the slope that is perpendicular to the direction of travel. Sidewalks often force pedestrians to traverse driveway crossings or curb ramps which confront mobility device users with severe and rapidly changing cross slopes. These types of cross slopes can easily send wheelchair users out into the street or drastically increase the risk of instability and tipping. Excessive cross slopes are a major barrier to sidewalk access for pedestrians using mobility aids as well as those with visual, gait, balance, and stamina impairments. Reducing cross slope is essential for accessibility and safety in the public right-of-way environment.

tread width

Excessive cross slope causes a hazard along a the public right-of-way, but narrow tread widths may stop pedestrians from using the public right-of-way at all. A -pedestrian may choose to walk in the street if they are unable to comfortably use the sidewalk with their mobility aid or device. The Public Right-of-Way Assessment Guidelines (PROWAG) requires a continuous width of 48 inches, exclusive of the width of the curb (R302.3), with a passing space of 60 inches every 200 feet maximum (R302.4). A proper tread width is important to the basic usability of the sidewalk.

surface quality

The condition of a surface greatly affects the accessibility and usability of a public right-of-way. A sidewalk that is spalling, cracking, heaving, ponding, or not slip resistant can pose a barrier to all users. The conditions of the continuous 48 inch wide public right-of-way should be assessed along the best path of travel available to the user. When a user would be forced to utilize a portion of sidewalk that has poor surface conditions an assessment of the existing conditions should be performed. From a simple change in surface materials to heaving and cracking, it is important to accurately record the conditions of the surface.

grade

ADA defines grade as a running slope, or the slope that is parallel to the direction of travel. The grade of a public right-of-way should provide “the minimum feasible running grade consistent with grades established for the adjacent roadway” (X02.1.5.1, Access Board Advisory Committee Report).  Excessive slopes can present barriers to access, causing fatigue as well as danger. Rapid and excessive changes in grade, found in places such as the counter slopes of a curb ramp and gutter, can decrease the ground clearance necessary for mobility device footplates and anti-tip wheels, as well as increase the risk of tipping for pedestrians using mobility devices. Sidewalk grades are required to be consistent with adjacent roadway grades, though a sidewalk grade steeper than that of the roadway is permitted provided that the sidewalk grade is less than 5% and meets other accessibility guidelines. If the grade of the pedestrian access route exceeds 5%, the path is considered a ramp and requires handrails and level landings. In order to maximize accessibility, various solutions should be considered in to ensure that sidewalk grades should be as flat as possible.

assessing pathway characteristics

We automatically collect the cross-slope and grade of every sidewalk by rolling the PROWAP cart along the best path of travel. Our software allows the identification and location of every section of cross-slope that exceeds the maximum allowed 2.0% cross slope. With no need for stopping, the PROWAP cart makes the slope collection fast while being extremely accurate.

Tread width and surface characteristics are also collected and recorded using  the PROWAP software.

multiple features at a crosswalk

4. critical features

Numerous features within the Pedestrian Right-of-Way are required to meet minimum specifications within the Access Board’s draft guidelines. These features can sometimes hinder or block access, protruding into the path of travel. In other circumstances, usable features may be inaccessible due to lack of sufficient clear ground space. Features such as pedestrian signal actuators, benches, drinking fountains, and many more, can complement or compromise the sidewalk environment.

assessing critical features

Our customized software provides our assessment experts with a checklist for every element of every feature that needs to be evaluated for compliance. Visual guides lead each assessment, clarifying the exact measurements and collections to be performed by the assessment coordinator. No need to memorize the routine or flip through the standards, PROWAP streamlines the entire assessment process.

step 3 process

after the assessment...

As our PROWAP assessment coordinators collect information, the data is directly imported into a GIS database. Our GIS experts then prepare the data for export and delivery. The information runs through a reporting query which generates an excel spreadsheet, indicating compliance or non-compliance of all the collected features. Then the point data can be imported into ArcGIS and converted to segmented line data, which is then spatially corrected. Any information desired by the client is linked to points and then exported as a shapefile, ready to be analyzed for any management needs.

PROWAP data provides the unique opportunity of literally seeing all of the collected information all at once, for comparison and analysis. We have provided a sample of this visual data, using once of our past assessments, for illustrative purposes.

step 4 deliver

the final product

When we finish the assessment of your sidewalk infrastructure, you will have completed the physical portion of the self-evaluation process for the development of your agency’s Transition Plan. You will be able to import the data into your GIS database, giving you a complete layer of geo-referenced data for your management and planning needs. From there you will be able to further analyze the data and use it to create your Transition Plan in order to meet ADA accessibility requirements.

the final package will include the following items:

Microsoft Excel files
Excel files

The Excel files contain feature data from the PROWAP data collection along the path of travel. The feature data will be represented as point data in ArcGIS.

The Excel files also contain station data collected along the sidewalk stroll. Stations are collected along the path of travel when conditions change (i.e. grade, cross slope, tread width, or surface type). A station is also recorded when a feature is recorded along the path of travel. The station data will be represented as line data in ArcGIS.

Also included is a data definitions file, describing all of the various tabs in the PROWAP Excel files.

shapefiles

All of the hard data collected during the assessment is then formatted with a spatial element and exported as shapefiles for use in GIS applications. All features are converted to point data. All stations are converted to line data. An additional MXD file is provided, which may be used with the shapefiles.

shapefiles
PDF files

Additional PDF files are included in the final package. These documents contain data displayed by ArcGIS, showing sidewalks with a grade less than or equal to 5%, a cross slope less than or equal to 2%, and a tread width greater than or equal to 48%. These disclosures are displayed and defined as compliant. Using the attached shapefiles, the data display may be customized and additional PDF files or other displays may be produced manually.

PDF files
feature images

Clear communication between the assessment team, management, and the maintenance crew is essential. A single image of a feature enables staff to estimate time, material, and cost beforehand, as well as locate and identify the specific feature in the field. Feature images also allow for further assessment review after the project is finished.

station images

Though not as essential as feature images, station images help identify the conditions of the entire sidewalk, aid in navigation, and display the path of travel followed during the assessment process.

station
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Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with PROWAP data

excel files

The Excel files contain feature data from the PROWAP data collection along the path of travel. The feature data will be represented as point data in ArcGIS.

The Excel files also contain station data collected along the sidewalk stroll. Stations are collected along the path of travel when conditions change (i.e. grade, cross slope, tread width, or surface type). A station is also recorded when a feature is recorded along the path of travel. The station data will be represented as line data in ArcGIS.

Also included is a data definitions file, describing all of the various tabs in the PROWAP Excel files.

PROWAP data displaying compliance in G I S

shapefiles

All of the hard data collected during the assessment is then formatted with a spatial element and exported as shapefiles for use in GIS applications. All features are converted to point data. All stations are converted to line data. An additional MXD file is provided, which may be used with the shapefiles.

G I S data exported as a P D F file

pdf files

Additional PDF files are included in the final package. These documents contain data displayed by ArcGIS, showing sidewalks with a grade less than or equal to 5%, a cross slope less than or equal to 2%, and a tread width greater than or equal to 48%. These disclosures are displayed and defined as compliant. Using the attached shapefiles, the data display may be customized and additional PDF files or other displays may be produced manually.

feature image

feature images

Clear communication between the assessment team, management, and the maintenance crew is essential. A single image of a feature enables staff to estimate time, material, and cost beforehand, as well as locate and identify the specific feature in the field. Feature images also allow for further assessment review after the project is finished.

station image showing the pathway ahead

station images

Though not as essential as feature images, station images help identify the conditions of the entire sidewalk, aid in navigation, and display the path of travel followed during the assessment process.

Let's roll!