ADA Accessibility

ADA Program Changes Effective March 15, 2011

Introduction

On September 15, 2010 the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) revised rules to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) effective March 15, 2011. These rules allow a mobilty device defined by DOJ rules as a wheelchair to be permitted in any areas open to pedestrian use.

Additionally the DOJ recognized “Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices” (OPDMD) to be used by “individuals with mobility disabilities.” The DOJ requires land owners and land managers to make reasonable modifications to public access policies and establish procedures to allow the use of OPDMD devices by individuals with mobility disabilities.

We are committed to enabling the use and enjoyment of the County’s recreational assets managed by OC Parks. The changes to ADA law offer those who require mobility devices greater access to County recreation facilities, amenities and trails. We have completed an assesment of the trails and other assets of OC Parks and have determined which OPDMD devices are authorized for use in specific recreation areas. Information provided herein will describe which OPDMD devices can be used within OC Parks facilities.

As technology advances and new devices are developed, public use patterns change, and impacts to natural and cultural resources are reevaluated. OC Parks may modify the type of OPDMD permissable within specific facilities on specific trails as necessary. Please check this site regularly for updates to these guidelines.

DOJ Rules

Wheelchair

A wheelchair is a manually-operated or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor or of both indoor and outdoor locomotion. This definition does not apply to Federal wilderness areas; wheelchairs in such areas are defined in section 508(c)(2) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12207(c)(2).

OPDMD Devices

An OPDMD device is any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines--whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities--that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion. This includes golf carts, electronic personal assistance mobility devices (EPAMDs), such as the Segway PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes, but that is not a wheelchair within the meaning of this section. This definition does not apply to Federal wilderness areas; wheelchairs in such areas are defined in section 508(c)(2) of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. 12207(c)(2).

§ 35.137 Mobility Devices

(a) Use of wheelchairs and manually-powered mobility aids. A public entity shall permit individuals with mobility disabilities to use wheelchairs and manually-powered mobility aids, such as walkers, crutches, canes, braces, or other similar devices designed for use by individuals with mobility disabilities in any areas open to pedestrian use.

(b)(1) Use of other power-driven mobility devices. A public entity shall make reasonable modifications in its policies, practices, or procedures to permit the use of other power-driven mobility devices by individuals with mobility disabilities, unless the public entity can demonstrate that the class of other power-driven mobility devices cannot be operated in accordance with legitimate safety requirements that the public entity has adopted pursuant to § 35.130(h).
(2) Assessment factors. In determining whether a particular other power-driven mobility device can be allowed in a specific facility as a reasonable modification under paragraph (b)(1) of this section, a public entity shall consider--
(i) The type, size, weight, dimensions, and speed of the device;
(ii) The facility´s volume of pedestrian traffic (which may vary at different times of the day, week, month, or year);
(iii) The facility´s design and operational characteristics (e.g., whether its service, program, or activity is conducted indoors, its square footage, the density and placement of stationary devices, and the availability of storage for the device, if requested by the user);
(iv) Whether legitimate safety requirements can be established to permit the safe operation of the other power-driven mobility device in the specific facility; and
(v) Whether the use of the other power-driven mobility device creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural resources, or poses a conflict with Federal land management laws and regulations.

(c)(1) Inquiry about disability. A public entity shall not ask an individual using a wheelchair or other power-driven mobility device questions about the nature and extent of the individual´s disability.
(2) Inquiry into use of other power-driven mobility device. A public entity may ask a person using an other power-driven mobility device to provide a credible assurance that the mobility device is required because of the person´s disability. A public entity that permits the use of an other power-driven mobility device by an individual with a mobility disability shall accept the presentation of a valid, State-issued, disability parking placard or card, or other State-issued proof of disability, as a credible assurance that the use of the other power-driven mobility device is for the individual’s mobility disability. In lieu of a valid, State-issued disability parking placard or card, or State-issued proof of disability, a public entity shall accept as a credible assurance a verbal representation, not contradicted by observable fact, that the other power-driven mobility device is being used for a mobility disability. A "valid" disability placard or card is one that is presented by the individual to whom it was issued and is otherwise in compliance with the State of issuance´s requirements for disability placards or cards.

Definitions

Electric-powered mobility devices include:
any mobility device powered by batteries, including multiple passenger carts (three or four wheels), electronic personal assistance mobility devices (EPAMDs - such as the Segway PT), battery-powered bikes (two or three wheels) and single passenger scooters (three or four wheels).

Gas-powered mobility devices include:
any mobility device powered by a gas-fueled engine using natural gas, gasoline, diesel, synthetic or bio fuel or combination thereof, including all-terrain vehicles, carts (three or four wheels), off-road bikes (two or three wheels), motor scooters (two or three wheels), motor cycles (two wheels), tractors and vehicles (four wheels).

Tandem wheel device: A two, three or four-wheeled mobility device where the wheel alignment is parallel along one or more axles.

Inline wheel device: A two-wheeled mobility device where the wheel direction of travel are aligned in the same plane.

Assessments of permissible or non-permissible OPDMD
Gas-powered mobility devices are not permitted in parks, beaches, historic sites and open spaces of the County of Orange.

Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Asessment Factors (iii, iv and v) Parks and open spaces possess significant natural and ecological conservation values that are to be managed to support a broad range of plant and animal populations. Federal land management laws and regulations (NCCP & HCP, Section 85.8.3 - #11), as well as conservation easements provisions (Conservation Easement, Schedule 5 - Inconsistent Uses within the Irvine Open Space Preserve) prohibit the use of motorized vehicles for recreational purposes on the land.

The exclusion of gas-powered mobility devices, as compared to electric-powered mobility devices, is due to the substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment from the fire danger created by the heat of the gas-fired engine. In addition, engine noise of gas powered vehicles produces a significant zone of disturbance to the activities of native wildlife and can negatively impact the visitor experience. The Orange County General Plan envisioned the regional park system would provide relief from an increasingly urban envionment. “Noise does not preclude recreation activities but does diminish the enjoyment of the overall experience.” Furthermore, the noise from gas-powered mobility devices poses a health risk to adjacent recreationalist when it exceeds 70 dB. The World Health Organization has set 70 dB as a maximum safe noise level in the work place. Most gas-powered vehicles, such as ATVs and gas-driven motor bikes, exceed this noise level. Additionally, the byproducts of combustion created by small engines pose a significant air quality risk as proposed by the SCAQMD.

Electric-powered OPDMD are permitted on trails and bikeways under specific trail type categories.

Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Assessment Factors (iii and iv) Trail users are required to stay within the authorized trail footprint to avoid serious harm to natural or cultural resources. Single track trails do not provide adequate space for safe passage of trail-users traveling in opposing directions to other power-driven devices.

Trail Assessments & Limitations

OC Parks Operations Staff conducted a comprehensive trail assessment based on DOJ guidelines. Trails can be categorized into four different types, with specific limitations and justifications as listed below.

Paved Trails: Multi-use trail with shoulder.
In-line & Tandem Devices not to exceed 36” inch maximum width.
DOJ Assessment Factors
Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Assessment Factors (i, ii and iii) Characteristics of the device could affect other trail users, based on the volume of pedestrian traffic and operational characteristics of the trail. These trails are high capacity two-way traffic areas, where a width restriction allows for safe passing of OPDMD devices, bicycles and pedestrians.

Multiuse Service Trail: Unpaved road.
Typical examples of this type of trail are unimproved fire and ranch roads, typically greater than 8 feet in width.
In-line & Tandem Devices not to exceed 36” inch maximum width.
DOJ Assessment Factors
Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Assessment Factors (i and v) Characteristics of the device create a substantial risk of substantial harm to the environment or natural resources. These trails are typically wide enough for one-way vehicle traffic, and this width restriction allows for safe passing of OPDMD devices, bicycles and pedestrians on unpaved roads.

Multiuse Single Track Trail: Unpaved, narrow gauge trail, suitable for multiple activities, including hiking, mountain biking or equestrian riding.
In-line Devices not to exceed 26” inch maximum width and a maximum wheel width of 6”.
DOJ Assessment Factors
Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Assessment Factors (i and v) Characteristics of the device create a substantial risk of substantial harm to the environment or natural resources. These are narrow trails where two-way traffic would require pedestrians to step off the trail and harm natural resources when allowing passage of OPDMD devices larger than 26” wide.

Pedestrian Single Track Trail: Unpaved, narrow gauge trail suitable for hiking only.
This type of trail is for natural areas and steep terrain where environmental or topographic constraints require no user impact to natural resources.
No OPDMD devices are permitted on these trails.
DOJ Assessment Factors
Justification: § 35.137 Mobility Devices Assessment Factors (i, ii, iii, iv, v) Trail users are required to stay within the authorized trail footprint to avoid serious harm to natural or cultural resources.

Other Notes

  • All OC Parks facilities have a posted speed limit of 10 mph.
  • All OPDMDs must stay on designated trails or bikeways at all times. Exceptions can be made when crossing turf areas to leave or rejoin a trail
  • No OPDMDs are permitted in historical structures, sensitive historic or cultural areas, museums or interpretive buildings (assessment factors (i)-(v) inclusive).
  • All users of two-wheel devices shall wear a helmet when operating those devices in compliance with California State Law.