Queen's University - Accessibility Guide - 19 Open Space Considerations
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19 Open Space Considerations   PDF version

19.1 General

The campus landscape contains a number of features such as walls, gates, fences and barriers that should be designed without creating obstacles, particularly for people with mobility or visual impairments.

19.2 Walls

Walls may be utilized on campus to retain slopes and separate site elements. An opportunity exists to use walls to provide seating, as well as support and guidance to people with disabilities. Retaining walls between 550 mm and 650 mm are useful in providing surfaces to lean against or rest packages on.

Walls require a minimum 70 mm change in grade behind the top of a retaining wall to prevent run-off from washing onto the seat or walkway.

This section is important for everyone  19.2.1 Where walls are located adjacent to walkways, weep holes shall be located away from the walking surface. Walls require 600 mm setback between the front of the wall and the travelled pedestrian route to avoid interfering with pedestrians. Walls shall be free of any projections which may obstruct or injure people passing by.

19.2.2 Seat Walls
Walls used to provide seating shall:

a) be between 450 mm and 550 mm in height. Walls lower than this should not be used as they are easily overlooked and may present a hazard.
b) have a top surface that is used for seating that is at least 300 mm wide and sloped front to back at 1% to drain.

Where seat walls are used it is recommended that additional conventional seating be provided, or the seat wall may be designed as a bench with a back and armrests.

19.3 Gates or Openings

This section is important for people with mobility impairments  Knob handles do not provide for an adequate grip by persons with impaired hand functions. Lever handles should be used on latched gates. U-shaped door handles reduce the risk of catching clothing on, or injury from, the exposed lever end. Push-pull mechanisms that do not require grasping are also easy to use.

Kick-plates 250 mm high on gates should be considered in high-use areas, to protect the push side of doors from damage caused by wheelchair footrests and to make it easier for persons in wheelchairs to open gates.

Operating devices such as handles, pulls, latches and locks shall comply with Section 7 Circulation, clause 7.5, and be mounted between 600 and 1200 mm from grade.

19.3.1 The minimum clear opening of gateways shall be 810 mm measured between the face of the gate and the stop with the gate open at 90o. The opening swing of a gate shall not extend onto an adjacent walkway.

19.3.2 Gate Closers
This section is important for people with mobility impairments  Where the gate has a self-closing mechanism, the force required to open it shall not exceed 38 N (8 lbs.), 22 N (5 lbs.) is preferred. The closing mechanism shall have a time delay of no less than 3 seconds to prevent the gate from closing too quickly on the person passing through it.

19.3.3 Gates shall be finished in a contrasting colour to make them stand out visually from the adjoining fence. Where an opening without a gate occurs in a fence, the end posts shall be finished with contrasting colours to aid those who have a visual impairment.

19.3.4 Manoeuvring Space at Gates Gateways shall have wheelchair manoeuvring space on both sides of the gate and a clear space beside the latch, as described in Table 7.1 in Section 7.3, (side hinged doors), except where access is only required from one side, such as to a closet. See Figure 7.3.
Note: Where a gate leads to a ramp landing, additional space may be required (See Section 8 Ramps.)

19.4 Fences

Fencing in and around campus shall not constitute a visual obstruction unless screening of undesirable areas such as garbage storage is intended. This will increase public safety and reduce vandalism.

This section is important for people with visual impairments  19.4.1 Fences shall be "cane detectable" and designed so that the bottom rail or horizontal element does not exceed 680 mm from grade. See Section 2, General Requirements.

19.4.2 Openings of between 76 mm and 254 mm shall be avoided to prevent head entrapment.

19.5 Barriers

Barriers are commonly used to restrict certain types of access, ie. vehicles from paths or unwanted foot traffic from landscaped areas in situations where a more substantial fence is not desirable. Typically barriers are constructed from free standing vertical posts (i.e. bollards) or posts with a cable, chain or other flexible element strung between as a "rail". Often a section will be removable for occasional access. Refer to Section 3.17 for construction barricades.

Where permanent or fixed barriers are used:

a) the top horizontal element shall be placed a minimum of 750 mm to a maximum of 900 mm above ground.
b)This section is important for people with visual impairments a "cane detectable" edge or rail (Figure 3.4) shall be placed at the bottom of all protective barriers at a maximum of 680 mm above grade. See Section 2 General Requirements. T-shaped barriers are not recommended.
c) openings of between 76 mm and 254 mm shall be avoided to prevent head entrapment.
d) bright and/or contrasting tones or colours are recommended to increase visibility.

This section is important for people with mobility impairments19.5.1 A minimum 75 mm high curb should be provided at the base of the barrier on a sloped area or where there is an adjacent grade change to prevent wheels from rolling or slipping under the railing. Alternatively a lower rail can be used if it does not exceed 100 mm clearance from the bottom edge of the rail to grade. Drainage for water run-off should not be obstructed. (Refer to Sections 3.13 and 3.14 for curb ramps and drainage.)

19.5.2 The use of single cables or chains strung as barriers on campus is not permissable where it may present a hazard to pedestrians or cyclists.

This section is important for everyoneWhere a flexible barrier is required:

a) stringing a double course of cable, a plastic panel or woven fabric or chain is acceptable provided that the bottom element does not exceed 600 mm from grade.
b) reflective warning symbols or markers shall be placed along the length of the barrier at intervals of a minimum of 1000 mm for increased visibility at night.

19.6 Minor Pathways or Pathways within Parks

Accessible corridors are necessary within parks, open spaces, or courtyards to connect amenities and facilities in such a manner as to provide persons who have disabilities with experiences similar to those available to people without disabilities.

19.6.1 Pathway Width
Accessible pathways shall be a minimum of 1500 mm wide. Where there is frequent and heavy pedestrian traffic, 2000 mm is required. Where use of the pathway frequently includes bicycles 3000 mm is recommended (See Section 19.7 Bikeways and Multi-use Recreational Paths).

This section is important for people with mobility impairments19.6.2 Pathway Slopes

a) Cross slopes shall be between 1% and 3%.
b) Longitudinal slopes shall not exceed 1:12 (8.33%).
c) It is preferred that pathways with slopes between 5% and 8.33% be designed to include a raised lip or handrail and periodic landings for rest areas. (Refer to Section 8 Ramps.)

19.6.3 Pathway Surfacing

a) Surfacing of accessible pathways within parks shall be constructed of hard surfaces that resist dislocation and deformation and do not retain water.
This section is important for people with mobility impairments  b) Walkway surfaces shall give adequate support to mobility devices such as wheelchairs, canes and crutches. Asphalt, concrete, or concrete unit pavers meet these criteria. Compacted stone-dust or wood decking is acceptable provided it is well constructed and maintained. However neither stone-dust nor wood surfaces are suitable in areas where winter maintenance and snow removal is to be performed. See Table 3.1.

19.6.4 At grade changes where steps are provided, an alternative means of ramped access shall also be provided. (Refer to Section 8 Ramps.)

19.6.5 The adjacent landscaping shall be smoothly graded to meet the pathway edge. The slope across the adjacent landscaped edge is not to exceed 10% for a minimum of 1200 mm.

19.6.6 Surface run-off shall not be channelled to cross or follow pathway surfaces due to potential ice formation during freezing/thawing in winter months.

19.6.7 A minimum 75 mm high curb or railing is required on pathway edges where there is a drop in grade from the pathway edge exceeding 75 mm. (ie. where the adjacent land is is not even with or drops away from the edges of the path surface). This is designed to keep wheeled vehicles from rolling off the pathway.

19.6.8 Rest areas shall be provided along pathways at regular intervals.

This section is important for people with visual impairments  19.6.9 The use of wayfinding devices on pathways to assist people with visual impairments should be considered (Refer to Wayfinding Section 3.2). Signage with raised text and a map at entrances, guide-lines, edging along walkways or railings shall be considered where necessary. (Refer to Section 6 Signage.)

19.7 Bikeways and Multi-use Recreational Paths

This section is important for everyone  Bicycles are a common form of transportation for campus users and should be considered in traffic planning. As a form of transportation in busy, high density urban areas, cyclists are best accommodated on streets, owing to the speed of movement and the potential for conflicts when travelling on pedestrian routes. The use of bicycles on sidewalks can be especially hazardous to those who are not sighted or cannot hear.

Bike routes should be planned as movement systems distinct from pedestrian pathways, sidewalks and walkways. Implementation could include: lane markings on streets, signage, convenient storage / locking facilities adjacent to common destinations, education and if necessary, enforcement.

Where conditions and sufficient space are available, off-road bikeways may be designed as multi-use recreational paths. These corridors are desirable as alternatives to high speed or busy streets for commuting or recreational travel. Typically multi-use paths are set back or out of the street right-of-way and are fairly long and continuous, crossing large open spaces. The users of these paths would include pedestrians with or without mobility aids, cyclists, skateboarders and in-line skaters.

Appropriate signage may be required to guide behaviour on these paths.

19.7.1 Multi-use recreational pathways shall be:

a) at least 3000 mm wide;
b) a lane separated by a 60 mm wide yellow or white line running down the centre;
c) signed appropriately to identify permitted uses, distances, destinations, and safety rules.

Asphalt is the preferred surface (Fine sidewalk mix).

Refer to Section 3 - Sidewalks and Walkways for slope and drainage considerations.


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