Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Curb Ramps - Dan Burden (2006)




Curb Ramps

Curb ramps provide access between the sidewalk and roadway for people using wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, crutches, handcarts, bicycles, or who have mobility restrictions that make it difficult to step up and down high curbs. Curb ramps must be installed at all intersections and midblock locations where there are pedestrian crossings, as mandated by federal legislation (1973 Rehabilitation Act and ADA 1990). Curb ramps must have a slope of no more than 1:12 (must not exceed 1 in/ft or a maximum grade of 8.33 percent) and a maximum slope on any side flares of 1:10. More information on the specifications for curb ramps can be found in the Proposed Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights of Way.5

Separate curb ramps for each crosswalk at an intersection should be provided rather than a single ramp at a corner for both crosswalks. The separate curb ramps improve orientation for visually impaired pedestrians by directing them toward the correct crosswalk. Similarly, tactile warnings alert pedestrians to the sidewalk and street edge. All newly constructed and altered roadway projects must include curb ramps. In addition, all agencies should upgrade existing facilities. One way to start this process is to conduct audits of the pedestrian facilities to make sure transit facilities, schools, public buildings, and parks are accessible to pedestrians who use wheelchairs.

While curb ramps are needed for use on all types of streets, priority locations are located in downtown areas and on streets near transit stops, schools, parks, medical facilities, shopping areas, and residences with people who use wheelchairs.


Pedestrians with mobility restrictions will often have trouble moving from the sidewalk to the level of the roadway when crossing a street. The height difference between the road and the sidewalk might prove to be an insurmountable barrier to pedestrians trying to use sidewalks. Curb ramps provide access to street crossings and improve sidewalk accessibility for people with mobility restrictions.


• Follow Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) design guidelines.
• Texture patterns must be detectable to visually impaired pedestrians.
• Curb ramps can be easily accommodated within curb extensions.

Estimated Cost

Min. Low
Max. High
Cost Unit
# of Sources (Observations)
Curb Ramp
Truncated Dome/ Detectable Warning
Square Foot
9 (15)
Curb Ramp
Wheelchair Ramp
16 (31)
Curb Ramp
Wheelchair Ramp
Square Foot
10 (43)

As many cities include truncated domes/detectable warnings as part of their curb ramp installations, combining the cost per square foot for detectable warnings and the wheelchair ramps in accordance with local design standards and multiplying by eight will provide a per intersection cost for providing ADA-compliant curb ramps.

For more information about curb ramp design, see Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access, Parts I and II, by the Federal Highway Administration, and Accessible Rights-of-Way: A Design Guide, by the U.S. Access Board and the Federal Highway Administration. The Access Board’s right-of-way report can be found at

Case Studies

Berkeley, CA
Clemson, SC
Fort Plain, NY
Phoenix, Arizona
Ithaca, New York
Arlington County, VA
Montgomery County, Maryland
San Francisco, California