News from NW ADA Center – Idaho
Universal Access Trails and Shared Use Paths
We enjoy a diversity of landscapes in Idaho. A trip around the state reveals a dizzying choice of recreation opportunities among forested mountains, urban parks and suburban greenways. Given these opportunities, it is not surprising that Idahoans want to get outdoors.
Walking, biking and hiking are popular outdoor activities, and as time goes one we can anticipate that the use of public trails will rise. As our population ages and health issues and disabilities increase, a growing number of people will face limits to their outdoor activities. The limits are not the disabilities, but the barriers to the trails in nature.
An outdoor sport does for people with disabilities exactly what it does fjor able bodied people – a connection to nature that is vital to our health and wellness. When it comes to shared use paths, every user brings his or her own unique set of needs and preferences.
A universally designed, sustainable pedestrian trail – one that stands up to years of use and serves a wide range of hikes – works with the environment and blends into the setting with the curves and reasonable slopes that make for an interesting hike. The surface needs to withstand the types of weather that occur in the area, minimize maintenance, and have a tread width wide enough for the anticipated volume of expected hikers. Use of trail accessibility guidelines and standards result in trails that meet these goals, while not requiring paving.
The American Trails manual on universal access trails provides lots of information to help develop a trail system that serves all people while fitting appropriately into the setting and being sustainable with low maintenance. Shared use paths service bicyclists and pedestrians. Guidance on their construction is included in the manual. And the question of power driven mobility devices and how they are applied to the outdoor recreation environment is also laid out.
By reviewing Best Management Practices (BMP’s) to utilize when planning, designing, constructing and maintaining shared used trails for universal accessibility provides trails usable by ALL people, without separate or segregated access for people with disabilities. These BMPs, which derive from federal regulations, are mandatory for federal entities, but are also applicable to state and local trails.
Find the manual here
For more information about the ADA contact:
Dana Gover, MPA, and ACTCP Certification, ADA Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator
For more information about ADA Technical Assistance visit the NW ADA Center Idaho website: nwadacenter.org/idaho
Phone: Voice and Text 208-841-9422
Idaho Relay Service: 7