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Guide to the ADA Standards

Technical Requirements

Can accessible routes run behind other parking spaces?

The ADA Standards require that an accessible route connect parking space access aisles to the accessible entrance they serve but they do not specifically prohibit the accessible route from running behind parking spaces. However, it is recommended that accessible routes be configured so that they run in front of parking spaces for greater safety.

Are bollards, poles, columns, or other elements permitted within the marked area of access aisles?

No elements, including bollards, columns, or poles, can encroach into the defined area of access aisles. (The width of spaces and aisles is measured to the centerline of markings but can include the full line width where there is no adjacent parking space or aisle).

Must accessible routes or crossings be marked?

No. The ADA Standards require accessible parking spaces and access aisles to be marked, but they do not require accessible routes, including portions crossing vehicular ways, to be marked.

How are parking spaces and access aisles to be marked?

The ADA Standards do not specify the method or color of parking space and access aisle markings. State or local codes and regulations may specify such markings. It is important that access aisles be marked in a manner that discourages parking in them, especially those that are 8 feet wide at van spaces.

What are the requirements for the size and color of signs?

The ADA Standards require accessible spaces to be designated by the International Symbol of Accessibility. In addition, van spaces must be labeled by the term “van accessible.” The Standards do not specify sign color, size, or other characteristics. Signs may be subject to additional specifications under applicable state or local requirements or the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices published by the Federal Highway Administration.

Can surface decals substitute for post- or wall-mounted signs?

No, the Standards require signs identifying accessible parking spaces that are at least 60” high measured to the bottom edge of the sign so that they are visible when a vehicle is parked in the space. Surface decals or other identifying features may be required by local or state codes and can be provided in addition to, but not in place of, signs required by the ADA Standards.

Is front-in only or angled parking prohibited for accessible parking spaces?

No, the ADA Standards do not prohibit front-in only, back-in only, or angled parking spaces. However, where van spaces are angled, the Standards require the access aisle to be located on the passenger side which is the side where vehicle ramps and lifts are typically deployed. Since users pull in or back in depending on which side the access aisle is needed, it is advisable to design both regular and van accessible spaces so that they can be entered in either direction. Otherwise, consider providing one access aisle at each regular accessible space instead of allowing two spaces to share an aisle so that access is available on both sides.

Can accessible spaces be parallel instead of perpendicular?

The Standards do not specifically require that accessible spaces be perpendicular instead of parallel, but perpendicular parking spaces are preferred at facilities located on sites because most allow users to park facing in or out depending on the side that the access aisle is needed. If accessible parking spaces at facilities located on sites (as opposed to those located along public streets) are parallel, they must fully comply with all applicable requirements, including those for access aisles and for van spaces.

Must van accessible spaces be restricted to van use?

No. The required "van-accessible" designation is informative, not restrictive, in identifying those spaces that are better suited for van use and does not restrict the use of spaces to vans only. State or local codes and regulations may require additional verbiage, but the ADA Standards do not. Additional content on van designation signs can recommend that car drivers not use the space unless no other accessible parking space is available.

Do the surface requirements, including those for maximum slope (1:48), apply to all portions of a parking lot?

No, the surface criteria apply only to accessible parking spaces, access aisles, and accessible routes, including those serving other elements or spaces besides parking spaces. Transitions to these areas from other portions of lots should be smooth to prevent tripping hazards.


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