The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires businesses and other organizations in the U.S. to meet certain guidelines to make it easier for people with disabilities to access their services. This includes requiring that their parking lots meet certain criteria, such as mandating that certain spaces be as close as possible to the nearest door or entrance. Understanding these parking lot guidelines can save you significant time and money later. Here’s what you need to know to make sure that your parking lot is ADA-compliant.
What Is the ADA and How Is It Relevant to Parking Lots?
Passed in 1990, the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability. According to the ADA, organizations must build their parking lots to accommodate people with special needs and disabilities. This applies to all organizations, including hospitals, schools, churches, private businesses, and dining establishments. Local and state regulations pertaining to the exact space configurations and parking enforcement usually vary, but the basic requirements are the same.
What Are the ADA Requirements for Parking Spaces?
To be compliant with the ADA, your parking spaces must meet the following criteria:
First and foremost, you’ll need to make sure your parking spaces are a certain width. The ADA has separate criteria for car-accessible spaces and slightly larger van-accessible spaces. Car-accessible spaces need to be at least 96 inches wide and have an access aisle that’s at least 60 inches wide. Van-accessible spaces should be at least 96 inches or 132 inches wide — both widths are allowed. They also need an access aisle that’s at least 60 or 96 inches wide.
The ADA also requires all parking spots to have no more than a 1:48 or 2.08% slope in all directions. This means there must be no more than an inch-long rise in slope for every 48 inches of surface. That way, you can provide enough space and clearance for people in wheelchairs to move up and out of the space. The ground underneath a given parking space can shift significantly over time and affect the slope, but it’s important to try to keep it at 2% and closely monitor it every so often.
According to the ADA website for parking lots, each individual space must have a “firm, stable, and slip-resistant” surface. This helps reduce the potential of an accident occurring. You’ll also need to provide at least 98 inches or about 8 feet and 2 inches of vertical clearance for the vans, access aisles, and vehicular routes. It’s good to keep in mind that dimensions are the absolute minimum, and it doesn’t hurt to build your spaces a little wider and taller. Some municipalities in South Florida may even have their own separate requirements.
Every parking lot has a big blue wheelchair sign showing the spots that are wheelchair-accessible. The official name for this is the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), and it’s the most recognizable logo designating accessibility. The law requires the display of the ISA in certain public places, including parking lots, and the ADA requires you to mount one at exactly 60 inches above the ground, starting at the ground level. You’ll also need to mount a second sign stating that the space is van accessible. The larger the parking lot, the more signage you’ll need.
The ADA has a few other requirements, as well as guidelines for special circumstances. Here are a few other important considerations:
Whether your lot is outside or enclosed in a parking garage, all parking spaces must be at the shortest possible distance to the most accessible entrance. After all, it would make little sense to put a sign up at the farthest end of the parking lot. You’ll need to make sure that patrons who use wheelchairs have no trouble finding the entrance. In addition to having special signage and being larger than other spaces, van-accessible entrances are usually next to each other with a ramp or access aisle between them.
Access aisles are designated areas for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices such as walkers, canes, crutches, or braces. They allow them to get into the building safely and efficiently. To be ADA compliant, your parking lot needs a clearly marked access area. This is to prevent drivers from accidentally parking in it. Your access aisle should go on either side of the parking space and have stripes going across the space. The aisle should also be level with the parking space and have roughly the same length.
Number of Spaces
It’s important to consider the number of spaces needed for each parking lot if you have multiple. No matter how many spaces you have, at least one must be van-accessible. Here are the ADA’s specific guidelines pertaining to accessible parking spaces based on the number of total spaces in your lot:
|Total Number of Parking Spaces||Minimum Number of Accessible Parking Spaces Permitted|
|1 to 25||1|
|26 to 50||2|
|51 to 75||3|
|76 to 100||4|
|101 to 150||5|
|151 to 200||6|
|201 to 300||7|
|301 to 400||8|
|401 to 500||9|
|501 to 1000||2% of total|
|1001 and over||20, plus 1 for each 100 over 1000|
What Are the Special Conditions?
If you have a smaller parking lot with limited space, it’s okay just to have one parking space with no signage as long as it’s easily accessible. In addition, if your parking lot is at a hospital or a rehabilitation facility, 10% and 20% of patient and visitor parking should be accessible, respectively. Outpatient therapy facilities also require at least 20% of spaces to be accessible. The ADA additionally requires one in every six spaces to be accessible at all medical facilities.
How Do I Make Sure My Lot Is ADA Complaint?
Before you build your lot, you’ll want to make sure it’s ADA-compliant, and there’s no easier way to do so than by calling U.S. Pave at 888-681-9355 or filling out our contact form. We proudly serve all types of businesses in the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Tampa areas, and we offer a wide range of paving services. No matter how big or small your project is, we’ll eliminate the guesswork and deliver you the best possible quality on your terms.
Modernization of Parking Signs for People with Disabilities by Dannel Malloy is licensed with CC BY 2.0
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U.S. Pave is a full-service paving maintenance and installation company serving all of Florida with Parking Lot Maintenance, New Asphalt Construction, Asphalt Patching and Repair, Parking Lot Crack Repair, Pothole Repair, Parking Lot Resurfacing (Overlay), Parking Lot Sealcoating or Resealing, Concrete Maintenance, Concrete Flatwork, Concrete Car Stops, Flow line / Curb & Gutter, Trip-hazard Removal/Grinding, Parking Lot Striping, Signage, Bollards, ADA Compliance and Upgrades, Catch Basins, Sweeping and Porter Services.
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