|October 28, 2002|
RE: Proposed Guidelines for Public Right of Way
Dear Board Member:
Protection & Advocacy, Inc. (PAI) is the federally mandated agency that protects and advocates for the rights of Californians with disabilities. We are writing to comment on the proposed Public Right of Way Guidelines. We strongly support the following proposed guidelines:
1. Section 1102.3. Alternate Circulation Path. The proposed guideline requires an alternate circulation path whenever the existing sidewalk is blocked by construction, alteration, maintenance or other temporary conditions. This will insure that people with disabilities will not be denied access to the public sidewalks for the duration of the construction project that can last for years.
2. Section 1102.12. Vertical Access. The proposal to require that vertical access elevators and lifts remain unlocked is vital. This will insure that access is as readily available as it to the general public. Experience has shown that locked elevators and lifts in effect deny access to people with disabilities.
3. Section 1103.4. Cross Slope. The proposal to require a maximum cross slope of 1:48 or 2.08 percent is necessary to insure that sidewalks are usable to persons with disabilities. A 3 percent cross slope is twice as hard to use as a 2 percent cross slope.
4. Section 1103.8. Changes in Level. Prohibiting changes in level that occur more frequently than every 30 inches is critically important. This guideline will insure that designers and builders will not use changes in level occurring every few inches in order to avoid building ramps.
5. Section 1104.3.2. Detectable Warnings. The proposed guideline to require Detectable Warnings or truncated domes at curb ramps is vitally important to people with visual impairments. Truncated domes are necessary to insure that persons with visual impairments are able to detect where the sidewalk stops and the street begins. By requiring that the truncated domes be in a line and widely spaced, wheelchair users will be able to wheel across the domes without difficulty.
6. Section 1105.2.2. Cross Slope. The proposal to require that crosswalks not have a cross slope greater than 1:48 or 2.08 percent is critical to insuring that people with disabilities can cross vehicular ways safely, quickly and without the physical damage that ensues when trying to traverse a cross slope greater than 2 percent.
7. Section 1105.3. Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing. Requiring that cross walk signals allow time not only to cross the street but to ascend the opposite curb ramp is essential to the safety of persons with disabilities. However, time should be provided to allow the person to descend the curb ramp also. Otherwise, a person with a disability will have to wait at the bottom of the curb ramp in the street for the light to change in order to cross the street before the signal changes again.
8. Section 1105.6.1. Roundabouts Separation. Requiring a continuous barrier along the street side of sidewalk where people with visual impairments will be precluded from inadvertently entering the vehicular way in “roundabouts” is essential for their safety.
9. Section 1106.2. Signals. It is essential for the safety of persons with visual impairments that this section be adopted. Requiring audible and vibrotactile indications of the WALK interval at signalized intersections provides the same opportunities and safety provided for the general public. Lack of audible and vibrotactile indicators where the general public is provided signalized intersections is discrimination and precludes people with visual impairments from the use of the public right of way.
10. Section 1108.1. Detectable Warnings. Requiring truncated domes to be aligned in a grid pattern is necessary to allow the wheels of wheelchair users to travel over them without difficulty.
11. Sections 1111.4 and 1111.6. Barricades. It is essential for the safety of persons with disabilities, especially those with visual impairments, that the proposed guideline require a solid wall or fence for barricades to separate the sidewalk from adjacent construction sites, drop-offs, openings and other hazards, as proposed.
The following guidelines should be amended in order to insure that people with disabilities have equal and safe access in public right of way:
1. Sections 1102.5.1 and 1102.5.2. Protrusion Limits and Post-Mounted Objects. The proposed guidelines allow objects with leading edges less than 27 inches in height to project into the circulation path. People with visual impairments who use canes usually do not swing their canes that high to detect a barrier. The guidelines should be amended to require that only objects with leading edges more than six inches above the ground can project into the circulation path.
2. Section 1103.7. Surface Gaps at Rail Crossings. The proposed guideline allows 2.5 to 3 inch wide gaps where a circulation route crossing commuter and train rails. Such gaps are too wide and will entrap the wheels of wheelchairs. The guideline should require immediate development and use of gap closures for where circulation routes cross rails.
3. Sections 1126.96.36.199 and1188.8.131.52. Curb Ramp Landings. Curb ramp landings which requires a change of direction must be 60 by 60, as is required in the current Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG.). See ADAAG 4.2.3. The proposed public-right-of-way guidelines allow a landing at curb ramps that is 48 inches by 48 inches, which is too small to allow people in wheelchairs to change directions as will be required at many curb ramps. The guideline should be amended to be consistent with ADAAG.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
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