Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Paths and Trails: New ADA Rules Will Affect Management of Traits and Shared- Use Paths

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Paths and Trails: New ADA Rules Will Affect Management of Traits and Shared- Use Paths

Article excerpt

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Two new developments related to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) will affect the management and use of public trails. These are the recent implementation of a new Rule for ADA on the use of Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs), effective March 15, and the recent publication of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) on Shared-Use Paths.

The immediate effect of the new ADA Rule regarding powered wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices is that the burden of proof as to whether a particular OPDMD should be allowed on a given trail or in a facility, will now be on the trail manager to determine if it can or cannot be used within a facility or on a trail. Without such determination, based on completing an assessment of suitability, the user can expect to be allowed to use his or her device. This rule will effectively apply to all public entities, including all park and recreation facilities, parks, and trails.

The nonprofit group American Trails has an excellent resource page on its website which includes FAQs, analysis of the new rule, description of the assessment process, and a webinar on the subject. It can all be accessed at http://www.americantrails.org/resources/accessible/ power-mobility-questions-answers.html In a related development, the Department of Justice Access Board has issued an ANPRM on Accessibility Guidelines for Shared Use Paths. As a first step in the rulemaking process, the board is requesting public comment on the draft definition of "shared use paths," namely those paths designed for both transportation and recreation, which are used by cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and equestrians. The Access Board is requesting public comment on the draft technical provisions and also seeks answers to a number of specific questions included in the notice. Comments are due by June 27.

Public comment will help to shape the next step in the rulemaking process, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The ANPRM process generally leads to publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, then publication of a Rule.

The National Center on Accessibility (NCA) has compiled a summary of the questions posed in the ANPRM. The complete text of these questions and additional information on scope of the ANPRM can be found at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/pdf/2011-7156.pdf or http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2011/2011-7156.htm

QUESTION 1. Does the draft definition of "shared use path" sufficiently distinguish these paths from trails and sidewalks? …

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