ADA Compliant Construction: Parking Spaces

Goodmanson Constructions ADA Compliant Asphalt Parking Lots

Pro Tips from the Pros!

It’s really simple: commercial facilities need to provide reasonable public accommodations for people with disabilities. Period. And you can’t provide commercial concrete or asphalt parking lots to businesses all over the Twin Cities without knowing all the ins and outs of ADA Compliance.

Example of Goodmanson Construction Accessible Parking Sppaces
Here is an example of a parking space which meets the Minnesota Accessibility Code

So here are a few tips on ADA codes for parking lots from Goodmanson Construction for you to check out, so that when you’re talking with your contractor you know at least some of the basics of what’s right. We’ve been in the business of building ADA Compliant Asphalt and Concrete Parking lots for both Commercial and Industrial applications for decades now, and if there’s one thing we’ve heard is that requirements for accessibility are hard to remember!

Let’s start with just a small bit on parking spaces and how they work with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Minnesota Accessibility Codes.

We are pulling a lot of this from a free Minnesota Disability Parking Quick Reference. (Which most of us have tattoo’d on us at this point.)

First, how many ADA parking spaces should I have for my Parking Lot?

The answer for the number of accessible parking spaces you should have for your parking lot is dependent on the overall number of spaces you have. Here’s a helpful table that will tell you what you need. This is a great question to ask your contractor before they start striping the parking lot. If they don’t know the answer before they begin, you might want to get a second opinion!

Here are the Minnesota Accessibility Code standards for how many parking spaces you need, which is based on the 2010 ADA Standards (and looks almost identical to it).

So how many parking spaces should I have? Simple. If you have 1-25 spaces, the ADA parking requirement is that you need to have at least 1 accessible space, and that space has to be a van accessible space. When you get up into the thousands of spaces, you need to provide 20 plus 1 for each 100 over 1000.

Picture of the Accessible Parking Spaces at Tamarack Tap Room
The Tamarack Tap Room’s Accessible Parking Spaces

Where Should I Put my Handicap Accessible Parking Spaces?

According to code, they need to be “on the shortest possible access route to the building entrance.”

Be careful here!

This is one spot where business owners can get tripped up because this rule leaves a lot to interpretation, unlike the other codes. Sometimes the space that is nearest to the entrance is not actually a better access route than a space that is further away, but is an easier access route for the entrance you’re trying to approach.

There are a lot of elements to accessibility. One of them is your parking lot striping, which we’re talking about here, but there are other elements like the grading of the parking lot, the slopes of the accessibility ramps (if there are any) and how your sidewalk and entryway is designed. We aren’t going to cover all of that in this blog post (it’s way too much to cover in one single post), but in future blog posts we’ll talk about the other elements of accessibility. One piece at a time!

A lot of business owners put the spaces right up next to the building. If that’s not possible because of how the building is accessed, then you’ve got to find a spot that can reasonably be seen as the shortest possible access route.

Work really closely with your contractor here, and make sure to get estimates for different configurations of the accessibility routes, handicap parking spaces and sidewalk and entryway design. If you’re spending the money, you’re going to want the best solution possible for both your bottom line and for your customers!

Remember: the basic purpose of the ADA is to remove barriers between your customers and your business. So keep that in mind.

The good news is that this is the only part of the code that has language that can be interpreted in different ways. The rest of the code is practically mathematical.

And how big should my Handicap Accessible Parking Spaces and Access Aisles be?

According to the Minnesota Accessibility Codes for parking lots, the minimum width for an ADA parking space for both vans and cars is 96 inches. The code does not specify the minimum length of an ADA parking space, so just follow the state or local codes for parking spaces in general for that guideline.

Here’s a helpful diagram which shows both car and van accessible spaces:

ADA Compliant Parking Spaces should be 96 inches minimum in width.
Here’s the diagram for the Vehicle Spaces

As for Access Aisles, those need to match the full length of the space and also a minimum of 96 inches in width.

Access Aisles should be the full length of the parking space and 96 inches minimum in width.
Here is the diagram for Access Aisles

If you’ve done more research here, you might already know that the Federal code on this is different. Which one takes precedence? Here’s the tip: follow the stricter code. So if the Federal Code says a smaller access aisle is OK but the Minnesota Code requires a larger one, you need to follow the Minnesota Code.

Also, another good guide is to think about what your customer in this situation would prefer. If you had mobility issues or had to use a wheelchair to get around, would you prefer a larger or smaller access aisle? Pretty simple. Your customers aren’t asking for anything outrageous; they just want to be able to get to your business.

Removing barriers and increasing access: that’s how you know you’re meeting the standards for accessible design!

What Signs do I Need to be ADA Compliant?

There are rules for signage too. Again, there’s good news here in that the rules are cut and dry, and specific.

You need to have a minimum 12″x18″ sign mounted at the center of each handicap accessible space, the bottom of the sign has to be at least 60 inches but at most 66 inches from the parking surface. The signage language is uniform. I think we’ve all seen signs like this:

ADA Accessible Parking Sign
Did you know that these need to say all this? Yes. Every space has it!

The sign has to have all those elements on there, per the Minnesota Accessibility Code. You can buy the signs on different websites, but it has to have these elements specifically on it! We’ll put those three elements right down here so you know what to look for. Remember, this is for Minnesota Accessibility Code, not the Federal Code. So if you’re in another state, check your own state’s accessibility guidelines for specifics. We mostly do our work in the Twin Cities, so we look for three elements on our parking signs.

  1. International Symbol of Accessibility
  3. Violation results in an up to $200 fine.

You also should have a sign that says “VAN ACCESSIBLE” for at least 1 in every 6 accessible spaces. While the Minnesota Code does not require it, the Federal Code does. It’s a good idea to always follow the stricter guideline (as we mentioned before), that way you’ve got all your bases covered. Just make sure to have a van parking space for 1 in 6 spaces at least.

The signage rules are simple because they are black and white (or blue and white), with very little being left to interpretation.

In another article in the future, we’ll be looking at ADA standards for accessible entrances, sidewalks, ramps, grading and we will even look at handrails!

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