Accessible Trail Gate Barrier Technologies 

Project Summary

People with disabilities are often prevented from using trails that prohibit motorized vehicles. Land management agencies are required to provide accessible facilities, but current gate designs that are accessible to personal mobility devices (PMDs), such as wheelchairs, also permit access by small motorized vehicles (e.g., snow machines, motorcycles). As a result, land managers must choose between providing access to people with disabilities and protecting the trail environment from degradation through motorized use. This project will design a trail gate that: prevents motorized vehicle access, allows all non-motorized users and PMDs, and is consistent with accessibility legislation. The results of this project will provide technical benefits through enhanced accessible design capability, economic benefits to rural communities of up to $140,000/year/mile of trail, and social benefits through enhancing the community participation and health of people with disabilities and their families.

Accessible Trail Vehicle Barrier Project Goals

This research project will develop a trail vehicle barrier that:

  • Prevents trail access by motorized vehicles,
  • Allows all non-motorized users, including people who use personal mobility devices (PMDs) such as walkers, wheelchairs or power scooters, and
  • Is consistent with accessibility legislation.

Phase 1 of the project (May to December 2005) will establish the feasibility of designing an accessible trail vehicle barrier, identify distinguishing characteristics of motorized trail vehicles (MTVs) and personal mobility devices (PMDs), document the performance characteristics of MTVs and PMDs, develop at least three initial design concepts for an accessible trail vehicle barrier, and conduct a market survey of land managers on the commercialization issues related to the new barrier design.

Phase 2 of this research (Fall 2006-2008) will build and evaluate the designs developed during Phase 1. The evaluation process will include assessments of the design suitability for different trail environments, design accessibility to trail users with and without disabilities and the effectiveness of the design in preventing MTV access.


This work is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) under Small Business Innovation Research Phase I Grant #2005-00325.