ADA regulations require that a business owner have a certain number of handicapped parking spots. According to Adaptive Access, this number depends on how many parking spots a location offers. For small businesses with only 25 parking stalls, only one accessible parking space is necessary. As the number of parking stalls increases, though, so does the number of required accessible parking spots. At the maximum, for locations with more than 1,000 regular parking spaces, handicapped parking spaces must account for 20 spots, plus one for every extra hundred spots.
When deciding on the location of a handicap-accessible parking spot, there are a few rules that a business owner needs to observe. The accessible parking spots must be the closest parking spot to the store. At some businesses, the closest parking spot may not be suitable for an accessible parking spot. For example, the closest spot may be located on an extreme slope, or the ground may have large cracks in it. If this is the case, than the accessible spot needs to be as close as safely possible to the business' entrance.
The pathway from the handicapped parking space to the store must also be accessible to customers with disabilities. A handicap-accessible parking spot cannot be located on the top floor of a garage unless there is a ramp or elevator that leads to the store entrance. An accessible spot may also not be positioned in a spot where there is an extreme slope. If the path to the store crosses in front of any vehicular traffic, than the area must feature a clearly marked pedestrian-crossing zone.
Each handicap-accessible parking spot must be at least eight feet wide. Handicap-accessible parking spots must have two five-foot wide pedestrian loading zones, into which a wheel chair or electric scooter can easily fit. Two adjacent handicapped parking spaces can share one loading zone. According to the Florida Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the parking spot must be outlined in blue, and needs to be repainted as necessary so that it is always clearly defined. Loading zones must be painted with diagonal stripes to denote that they are not parking spots.
The international handicap symbol should be painted on the pavement furthest from the curb so it is easily visible as a car approaches the stall. You can use the 39 inch (1 meter) international handicap parking stencil which is made to Federal ADA specifications. However, you should verify size requirements with your local zoning office as state specifications can vary and change without notification. For example, California requires the 36 inch handicap parking stencil and Florida requires the 60 inch handicap pavement stencil.
Handicap parking stencils are available in a range of sizes. A 21 inch is typically used in stadium row seating and the 72 inch is typically used at airports and large facilities.
ADA regulations say a handicapped parking spot must always have a handicapped parking sign placed in the front of the spot as well. A handicapped parking sign needs to be posted at a height so that it will always be viewable and mounted high enough for other cars to see - generally speaking, the parking sign needs to be posted five feet off the ground. The parking sign must also show the international symbol of accessibility. Once inside, you should include handicap bathroom signs.
For every eight handicapped parking spots, at least one spot needs to be accessible to vans. The van-accessible handicapped spot must still be eight feet wide, but the loading zones must be eight feet wide instead of five feet. The parking sign also needs to clearly designate that the spot is for vans, though regular vehicles with a permit may park there.
Designing a parking lot with handicapped accessibility in mind is key. Not only will it prevent a business owner from being fined, but it will also go a long way to pleasing any handicapped customers a business may have.
Daniel Keane has been owner of Alphabet Signs located in Wilmington DE since 1991. Daniel graduated Drexel University College of Business Administration in 1983. Membership includes International Sign Association and United States Signs Council. Alphabet Signs has over 3000 quality products in 50+ sign categories at discounted prices: http://www.alphabetsigns.com/
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