Think every inch of your building’s public spaces is in perfect sync with the Americans with Disabilities Act? You better take a deep breath and give it another look. If even one inch of your parking lot is in violation of the ADA, not only do you risk losing customers – you could end up paying out on those violations in a major way.
Keeping your place of business accessible is important. That’s why you’ve got wheelchair-accessible ramps, bathrooms with proper railings, and everything else you can think of to ensure that people with disabilities are still welcome. But if there’s one place that you’re likely to overlook, it’s your parking lot. Here’s what you might be missing.
It’s More Complicated than You Think
You know the importance of making parking spaces accessible to those who have mobility issues, whether they use a cane, a walker, a wheelchair, or a motorized scooter. But you need to do more than just spray-painting that universal person-in-wheelchair symbol on a few parking spaces in your lot – you need to ensure that each of these spots is accompanied by an access aisle of the proper dimensions so people with disabilities have the room they need to maneuver into and out of their vehicles.
These aisles have very specific requirements when it comes to width. Aisles that are designed to accompany a standard handicapped-accessible spot need to be 5 feet wide, for example – and aisles that accompany handicapped spots designed for vans need to be another 3 feet wider on top of that. These aisles also need to be connected to access routes that lead from the parking space to your building’s entrance – and preferably that doesn’t lead through the path of traffic!
Don’t Curb Your Enthusiasm
Meanwhile, once you get to the end of the access aisle, there are even more requirements to keep in mind. Curb ramps, which provide a transition point for a wheelchair to a sidewalk, are almost always not constructed properly – that’s not just an ADA violation but a danger to anyone who relies on a traditional or motorized wheelchair for movement.
There’s a maximum angle for these slope of these curb ramps. It’s set at 8.33%, and it covers the ramp itself as well as the angled side flares that flank each ramp. Parking spot slope issues can also be a major problem, as handicapped-accessible spots can only have a slope of 1:48 or less – the last thing you want near a handicapped spot is a slope so steep that it could cause a wheelchair to roll away on its own.
Fix the Problems While You Can
If you find your parking lot isn’t up to snuff, make sure you take steps to fix the issues as quickly – and decisively – as possible. Otherwise, not doing so exposes you to needless litigation, especially from individuals who enjoy searching for non-compliant parking lots as a way to make a few quick bucks on the side.
Don’t fall victim to these individuals. The money you spend on bringing your parking lot up to spec is a fraction of what it might cost you if you’re the victim of an ADA lawsuit, so protect your business and its patrons from harm as soon as you can.