ADA Sidewalk Requirements: What You Need for ADA-Compliant Sidewalks

Sarah Etler

Sarah Etler joined A-1 Concrete Leveling after receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northern Kentucky University. As A-1's Content Marketing Manager, she works closely with industry experts to produce content that will best answer questions related to concrete repair and maintenance practices. Sarah loves living a life full of discovery and is excited every day to see what new things she can learn and share with those around her.

IN THIS ARTICLE
Learn whether or not your sidewalk meets ADA requirements, and what to do about it if not.

Most businesses and agencies are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act if they work with the public in some capacity, so it’s important to make sure your sidewalk is up to the standards to support your community and avoid penalties.

Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we offer concrete repair services, like concrete lifting and caulking, that have helped countless customers get their sidewalks compliant with ADA requirements.

This article will explain what those ADA requirements are, along with additional information about ADA compliance.

ADA Sidewalk Requirements

To have an ADA-compliant sidewalk, you’ll need to consider the following key components: 

Sidewalk Width

In most cases, sidewalks must be a minimum of 36” wide, but there are a couple of exceptions:

  • The sidewalk width can go down to 32 inches for a length of 24 inches if the 32-inch sections are separated by 48-inch long by 36-inch wide (minimum) segments.
  • The walkway needs to be at least 42 inches wide when it makes a turn around something less than 48 inches wide. At the turn, it must be at least 48 inches wide, and leaving the turn, it must be 42 inches again. If the clear width at the turn is 60 inches compliance with this is not required.

Passing Space

If the sidewalk is less than 60 inches (5 feet) wide, passing spaces are needed every 200 feet. This space can be either a minimum of 60 x 60 inches, or a T-shaped intersection with each arm and base extending out 48 inches from the intersection.

Material

Sidewalks must be made with hard materials, like concrete, asphalt, and wood. Loose gravel or other materials that haven’t been bound together aren’t considered ADA-compliant.

While not explicitly addressed by the ADA, rough surfaces like cobblestones, pavers, or Belgian blocks can cause vibrations for those using wheelchairs or wheeled mobility aids, which can be hard to traverse and sometimes even painful.

Slip Resistance

While important for general safety, making sure sidewalks are slip-resistant so that those who use canes, crutches, or other walking aids aren’t at risk is also necessary to be ADA-compliant. 

The ADA doesn’t provide specific slip-resistance guidelines, but smooth and polished surfaces can be particularly hazardous, especially when wet.

Trip Hazards

Raised or sinking concrete where the change in level is above ¼ inch is considered a trip hazard and must be taken care of to meet ADA requirements.

If the trip hazard is beveled, a change in level up to ½ inch is okay, but the slope of the bevel must be 1:2 or less.

Openings and Gaps

Wide expansion joints, cracks, and grates can be trip hazards or an easy place for wheelchair casters to get stuck. Openings and gaps along sidewalks can be a maximum of ½ inch wide.

Slope

ADA-compliant sidewalks can’t have slopes steeper than 1:20, or 5%, and the cross slope must be less than 1:48.

Sidewalks with a slope of more than 5% must be treated as ramps, which have a different set of rules.

Curb Ramps

The 2010 ADA Standards say that when a street, highway, or pedestrian walkway is built or changed, a curb ramp must be added where the sidewalk intersects with the road. 

This ramp must have a slope of 1:12 and should not go steeper than 1:48. A detectable warning device with bumps and a contrasting color must also be included on the curb ramp.

How To Repair Sidewalks for ADA Compliance

  • Concrete Leveling

Professional concrete leveling services can lift up sunken sidewalk slabs to even out the slope and eliminate trip hazards, without the need for replacement.

  • Fill Gaps and Cracks

Filling openings in the sidewalk with flexible concrete caulk can seal up cracks, gaps, or joints to prevent trip hazards and wheelchair casters from getting caught.

  • Resurfacing

Adding a non-slip or textured coating on top of slippery walkways can help make them ADA-compliant. 

  • Replacement

While the most expensive and time-consuming option, replacing the concrete will allow you to rework the sidewalk altogether to adhere to all ADA requirements from the get-go.

When Is ADA Compliance Required?

The ADA applies to many organizations and businesses. These include all state, county, and local government agencies, places of public accommodation (e.g. stores, bars, theaters), commercial facilities, and transportation facilities.

Some examples of these places are:

  • Retail stores 
  • Restaurants
  • Hospitals
  • Factories
  • Airports
  • Hotels
  • Office buildings

Note: Federal government agencies are not required to adhere to the ADA. Instead, they’re covered by the Architectural Barriers Act, which are different but similar standards.

Who Is Exempt From ADA Compliance?

Religious organizations and private clubs don't have to follow ADA guidelines. This means places of worship, schools, and daycare centers run by religious organizations are not included. But some state or local laws may still apply to these entities. 

The ADA does not cover single-family homes, condos, or apartments that are privately owned and not used as a business. However, if there is a public place in one of those buildings like an office or hotel room, then it must follow the ADA Standards.

Note: While not required to adhere to the ADA Standards, many types of multi-family housing are subject to the Fair Housing Act design requirements.

Why Is ADA Compliance Important?

1. Fines and Legal Implications

Non-compliance with ADA standards carries severe financial consequences. Government-imposed fines can be up to $75,000 for the first violation and $150,000 for subsequent violations.

2. Community Relationships

Beyond legal ramifications, the failure to be ADA-compliant can strain relationships with customers and the community at large. It can also simply make life difficult for your neighbors, customers, or other community members.

Does Your Sidewalk Meet ADA Requirements?

Ensuring ADA compliance for your sidewalks is not just a box to check; it's a commitment to accessibility, safety, and community well-being. 

Here at A-1 Concrete Leveling, we understand the significance of these standards and are dedicated to assisting our customers in achieving ADA-compliant sidewalks through our concrete repair services, like concrete leveling and caulking.

If you’d like to learn more about how A-1’s services can help you achieve ADA-compliant sidewalks, click the link below to request a free onsite cost estimate from a member of our team!

Sarah Etler

Sarah Etler joined A-1 Concrete Leveling after receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Northern Kentucky University. As A-1's Content Marketing Manager, she works closely with industry experts to produce content that will best answer questions related to concrete repair and maintenance practices. Sarah loves living a life full of discovery and is excited every day to see what new things she can learn and share with those around her.