Handicap-accessible parking spaces are mandated throughout the United States by the Americans with Disabilities Act. This federal law was introduced in 1991 and includes a number of provisions related to creating accessible parking spaces for disabled individuals. The ADA requires a certain number of handicapped parking spaces based on the total number of spaces in a lot and describes the requirements for their construction, placement and maintenance.
The ADA has separate requirements for accessible parking spaces designed for cars and vans. Parking spaces designed for cars are required to provide an aisle adjacent to the parking space measuring at least 60 inches. This space is intended to provide room for a person using a wheelchair to exit their vehicle. The ADA requires the parking space to measure 96 inches in width and use clear markings to denote the boundaries of the adjacent 60-inch access aisle.
The federal government requires three additional features for van-accessible parking spaces. Van-accessible parking spaces are required to provide an expanded access aisle measuring at least 96 inches in width. Van-accessible parking spaces are required to provide a minimum of 98 inches of vertical clearance for the parking space, access aisle and the van's route to and from the parking space.
Handicap-accessible parking spaces require clearly visible signs that remain unobstructed while the parking space is occupied. Signs designating accessible parking spaces are required to use the international symbol of accessibility. Spaces designated for vans are required to include the phrase "van accessible" as well.
The ADA requires accessible parking spaces on the shortest accessible path to the handicap-accessible entrances of the building the parking lot serves. Buildings that have more than one handicap-accessible entrance are required to evenly divide their accessible parking spaces between these entrances. The ADA also requires an accessible route between accessible entrances and their matching parking spaces. These routes cannot include curbs or stairs and has minimum width of 36 inches. Accessible routes require a stable surface that is firm and slip-resistant with a slope that does not exceed 1:12. This requirement limits handicap accessible paths to slopes with a vertical change in height of 1 inch or less for every foot of distance.
The ADA uses a table to determine how many handicap accessible-spaces are required for any given parking lot. The required number of spaces is based on the total number of parking spaces in the lot. Parking lots with up to 100 parking spaces are required to have one handicap-accessible space for every 25 standard spaces. Large lots with more than 100 spaces require an additional accessible space per every 50 standard spaces up to 200 spaces. Lots with more than 200 spaces require an accessible space for every 100 additional standard spaces. Parking lots with 500 to 1,000 spaces must devote 2 percent of their total spaces to handicap accessible parking while lots with more than 1,000 spaces are required to have at least 20 accessible spaces with an additional accessible space for every 100 standard spaces in excess of 1,000.
The ADA also requires at least one van-accessible space in lots with 400 or fewer spaces. Lots with 400 to 500 spaces require two van-accessible spaces while larger lots require you to designate ¹⁄8 of the total handicap-accessible spaces for van parking.