Road Access for Disabled Americans

City of Berkeley

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Commission on Disability
Department of Public Works
2201 Dwight Way
Berkeley, California 94704

TEL : (510) 665 3445
FAX: (510) 644 8830
TDD: (510) 548 1351


November 10, 1998

To: Honorable Mayor
and Members of the City Council

From: Commission on Disability



That Council direct the City Manager to write letters to:

  1. John Wodatch at the Disability Rights Section of the U.S. Department of Justice informing him of the problems which speed humps cause persons with disabilities, requesting that he work with the U.S. Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) to develop standards for accessibility that address those problems, and requesting that he work with the federal Department of Transportation to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in relation to roadways; and
  2. Charlene MacKenzie, ADA Coordinator at State of California Department of Transportation informing her of the problems which speed humps cause persons with disabilities, requesting that she identify the responsible individual for setting public right-of-way standards for persons with disabilities in California, and that she work with the Berkeley Commission on Disability staff to address those problems with appropriate standards.


On September 9, 1998, the Commission on Disability voted unanimously to approve the above recommendations. (AYES: Craig, Miele, Nandi, Rose, Wangeman; NOES: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: Betcher, Freeman, Todd)

In the last year the Commission has testified to the City of Berkeley Transportation Commission and has received input from citizens concerning the access problems that speed humps cause for the disabled community. For some people with disabilities, the pain and injury which can result from driving or riding over speed humps makes these "traffic calming devices" into virtual barricades. For others, the unpredictable outcome of going over humps results in a deterrent to travel. When speed humps are located in the only clear path (sometimes the side of the roadway), they can also be an obstacle for pedestrians using wheelchairs.

The Commission is concerned that installation of speed humps appears to be contrary to the intent of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which stipulates that new facilities must be "readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities." The ADA Title II regulations define "facility" to include "roads." The regulations go on to say that alterations to facilities must be accessible and usable "to the maximum extent feasible."

The Commission understands that federal compliance guidelines for the public right-of-way are still under development for inclusion as Section 14 of the ADA Accessibility Guidelines. The Commission would like the Department of Justice and the Access Board, who together issue regulations covering access, to develop standards which require both pedestrian and vehicular roadway access for all disabled people.

The federal Department of Transportation (DOT) is also funding experiments and publishing materials promoting speed humps. The Department of Justice could be instrumental in getting DOT to help implement (and enforce) ADA compliance for roadway access, if standards would be defined.

Access problems caused by speed humps have been under discussion in Berkeley since 1994. The disabled community, including Commissioners themselves, have experienced the negative impact of speed humps. To help remedy this problem, DOT's public information should be consistent with the spirit of the ADA and complaints about traffic calming measures that present barriers to persons with disabilities should receive serious evaluation.




Eric Dibner, Disability Compliance Coordinator 665-3445
Karen Craig, Chairperson, Commission on Disability 665-3445

Karen Craig
Karen Craig, Chair
Commission on Disability

The addresses are:

  1. John Wodatch, Chief
    Disability Rights Section
    Civil Rights Division
    U.S. Department of Justice
    Post Office Box 66738
    Washington, D.C. 20035-6738
  2. Charlene MacKenzie
    ADA Coordinator
    Department of Transportation
    Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
    State of California
    1120 "N" Street
    Sacramento, CA 98814

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