Minimum width of walks

The ADA requires that walkways be a minimum of 36″ wide.  The CBC, however, requires that walkways be a minimum of 48″ wide.  Clear widths can be reduced to 36″ if the 48″ requirement creates a hazard, upon approval of the enforcing agency.
CBC 1133B.7.1

About Dwight Ashdown

The website is authored by Ashdown Architecture, Inc., a California Architectural firm and Certified Access Specialist (CASp) #112 All content is copyrighted by Ashdown Architecture and may not be used without the written consent of Ashdown Architecture, Inc.
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16 Responses to Minimum width of walks

  1. mike bredy says:

    hi Dwight a civil engineer design a ranp form parking lot to walk way @ 8% in 8′ in length is ok? thank you

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      If I understand your question correctly – it is ok to have an 8% ramp from a parking lot to walkway. If the ramp is longer than 6′-0″ or has a rise greater than 6″, it would require handrails per CBC 1133B.5.5

  2. Jonathan Marsh says:

    hi dwight,

    pge has installed double wide power line poles in walnut creek, ca which have reduced the width of a sidewalk to less than 30 “. does this violate accessibility laws or must wheelchair users now cross the street to get to the store ?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Without seeing the specific condition, it’s difficult to say – but what you’ve described does sound like it’s an accessibility issue.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      It sounds like a problem / violation. A typical path of travel should be 48″ wide – which can be reduced down to 36″ with the approval of the enforcing agency.

      • Jonathan Marsh says:

        While I fully support provision of the civil rights secured by the ADA and CADA I am not a wheelchair user. I contacted the nearest ILP to ask them to address the problem. I was told an advocate would contact me for information but they did not return my call. A PGE worker I approached at the site told me the company engineers with the approval of the city oversight agency had directed installation of the poles blocking the sidewalk path of travel. I am not sure what else I can do.

  3. Cindy Winter says:

    If a new pedestrian bridge is built, both ends within 185 feet of an ADA-accessible crosswalk, must the new bridge include ADA ramps? Or can the new bridge be built for the able-bodied only? (The bridge is an attempt to stop persistent jay-walking.)

    Thank you for any reply you might provide.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      It’s difficult to say, without seeing the specifics, but initially it appears that you would want the new bridge to accommodate individuals with disabilities – otherwise, you would be discriminating against individuals with disabilities.

  4. alex says:

    in a clothing store is the 44″ clear required around every merchandise fixture or just for the main path of egress travel? is 36″ clearance around merchandise fixtures on sales floor acceptable?
    thank you for the help.

  5. Patricia McGee says:

    Hi Dwight,
    I have a picky neighbor that says my little garden fence (the little 12″ wire ones) is making the path to his BACK door too narrow for ADA compliance. (He’s not disabled, btw) Is there still a 36″ or 48″ requirement for residences? His front door is completely unobstructed and he chooses to use his rear entrance.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      The first question is whether the path to your neighbor’s back door is a public passage way. If it’s a public passageway, then it needs to comply w/ the requirements for accessibility compliance. If it’s private then, not so much.

      The requirements for a public passageway in California is 48″ wide, which can be reduced to 36″ upon approval of the enforcing agency – typically the Building Dept.

  6. dale beck says:

    I get scared almost been hit by a car. The last 150 feet of the sidewalk there are two electric poles they are in the middle of the sidewalk so my scooter doesn’t fit past them. There is only 20′ in on each side of the pole. I have to go on the street to get past them. Is there anything i can do to fix the problem?

  7. Chris says:

    What is the ADA law for sidewalk width in an apartment complex? Ours are only 24″ and I live near the parking structures so when cars are parked in their spaces it might shrink to 18″ in some areas. Plus shrubbery hanging out makes it 12″ – 16″. It is hard to navigate with both a wheelchair and scooter. Thank you.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      The general requirement for t a “Path of Travel” is that it be 48″ wide. It can be reduced down to 36″, “with the approval of the governing agency.”

  8. Doug says:

    We will be designing a pedestrian open bridge from an open parking structure (fully fire sprinklered) to an existing hospital building (not into any medically related rooms/spaces). The clear interior dimension width of the bridge would be about 7′ and it would span about 200′-230′. From the parking structure, the bridge would connect near an open stair and elevator lobby. What items should we be considering?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      For ADA issues, you want to make sure that the slope, if any, along the path of travel doesn’t exceed 5%. You’ll also want to make sure that any openings in the bridge (expansion joints) etc., are perpendicular to the path of travel with a maximum opening dimension of 1/2″.

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