Path of Travel

ADA Requirements for Path of Travel

The idea behind the path of travel is to provide a zone of safety around the pedestrian.  This zone, with attending requirements needs to go anywhere the public is allowed to go.  There are still ADA requirements for employee only areas (especially as put in by Title 1) but as a rule of thumb, the path of travel only needs to end up to the employee areas, including the door.  Some general path of travel requirements are:

  • No slopes greater than 5% without handrails.  Slopes greater than 5% require handrails and are considered ramps.
  • Door landings do different in size, but in general, each door landing with its latch-side clearance needs to have a steepness no greater than 1:48 in any direction.
  • Accessible paths of travel need to be pointed out with signage
  • At least one of each type of good or service must be located on the path of travel so that everyone has access to it.  This means that a bar upstairs doesn’t need to be accessible if there is an identical bar on the first floor (AND if all the amenities are the same.  This means that if a private party rents out the upstairs area, there is potential for a lawsuit).
  • The California Building Code requires at least 48 inches of width along external paths of travel with a recommendation of 60 inches.  For existing buildings this can go down to 36 inches for the ADA depending on hardship.
  • Objects which protrude into the pedestrian envelope greater than 4 inches for wall mounted objects (12 inches for post mounted) are considered hazards in the path of travel.  A path of travel should be devoid of these objects.  The area of projection is in general, between 27 and 80 inches above the finished floor.  This means that doorways that are lower than 80 inches are considered hazards.  Common protruding objects include fire extinguishers, signs and counters.
  • The cross-slope for a path of travel cannot be greater than 1:48 inches.
  • Detectable warnings are required under the California Building Code for vehicular hazard areas and transit platforms.  This requirement isn’t included under the ADA 2010 but it is included in the ADAAG 2004 and will probably be reintroduced under the Public Right of Way Access Guide which is supposed to come out soon.
  • No change in vertical level greater than 1/2 inch is allowed.  Changes in level between 1/4 and 1/2 inches should be beveled at a 45 degree slope.