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Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails

Applying the Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines (Continued)

Constructed Features for Picnic Areas

Three constructed features are addressed in section 4 of the FSORAG—picnic units, picnic tables, and cooking surfaces.

Picnic Units

A picnic unit is a part of a picnic area that contains one or more constructed features used for picnicking by an individual or group separate from other parties using the recreation site. All constructed features provided in a picnic unit must meet the requirements explained below. The size of a picnic unit is determined by the type and number of constructed features provided and the required clear space around each feature.

Where two or more picnic units are provided in a recreation site, at least 20 percent, but never less than two of the units, must be connected by an ORAR to the other major features of the site. In a picnic area with 20 units, for example, all tables, grills, and other features must be accessible, and a minimum of four picnic units must be connected to the other major features at the site by an ORAR.

The 20 percent requirement is a minimum. In the spirit and intent of universal design, designers are encouraged to connect as many units by an ORAR as is feasible, given the specific natural constraints of the site, the level of development, and other considerations.

The FSORAG recognizes that the natural terrain often presents a real obstacle in the outdoor recreation environment. While terrain doesn't affect the accessibility of the constructed features provided in the unit, it could make it difficult to provide an ORAR for the picnic unit. It may not be possible to provide an ORAR for all picnic units without affecting the fundamental nature of the picnic area and the recreation opportunity.

Picnic Tables

All picnic tables must comply with requirements for accessible seating spaces, table clearance, slope, and surface. At least 20 percent of them must be connected by an ORAR to the other major constructed features at the recreation area. This is the same as, not in addition to, the ORAR connection requirement for picnic units. It is included here to ensure that everyone understands that even if no constructed features are provided other than picnic tables, an ORAR connection is still required. The 20 percent requirement is only a minimum; designers are encouraged to connect more picnic tables where that is feasible. Picnic tables in GFAs don't have to be connected to an ORAR.

Wheelchair seating spaces must be provided based on the length of a picnic table (figure 52). For tables up to 9 feet (2.7 meters) long, one space is required. Tables between 10 feet (3 meters) and 18 feet (5.5 meters) long require two wheelchair spaces, and so on for longer tables.

Illustration of four people sitting and playing a card game at a picnic table. Two of the people, who are using wheelchairs, are sitting at the table ends. The text on the illustration indicates there must be two accessible spaces at 10 foot-to-18 foot (3 meter to 5.5 meter) picnic tables.
Figure 52—At least two spaces must be accessible at
a 10- to 18-foot- (250- to 460- millimeter-) long picnic table.

Knee space for wheelchair seating must be at least 30 inches (760 millimeters) wide, 19 inches (485 millimeters) deep, and 27 inches (685 millimeters) high, as measured from the ground or floor to the bottom of the tabletop. Toe clearance of at least 9 inches (230 millimeters) above the ground or floor must extend at least an additional 5 inches (25 millimeters) beyond the knee clearance. Figure 53 illustrates the required knee and toe space. Toe clearance is required to ensure that someone in a wheelchair is able to sit close to the tabletop, regardless of the design of the picnic table. If the table is constructed with one solid leg on each end, as opposed to an A-shaped frame or two individual legs on each end of the table that would allow the wheelchair to fit in between, the toes of a person in a wheelchair would hit the table leg at the end of the 19-inch (485-millimeter) knee space. Without the additional 5-inch (25-millimeter) toe clearance, a person in a wheelchair wouldn't be able to get close enough to the tabletop to use it comfortably.

Illustration of a man using a motorized wheelchair rolling up to the end of a picnic table. Dimensions show the knee and toe space requirements explained in the paragraph above.
Figure 53—The requirements for knee
and toe space at a picnic table.

Illustration of an accessible picnic table made of lumber.
Figure 54
Illustration of an accessible picnic table with lumber top, detached benches, and steel supports.
Figure 55
Illustration of an accessible picnic table with lumber top, detached benches, and stone supports.
Figure 56
Figure 54, 55, and 56—Three examples of accessible picnic tables. Plans are on the Forest Service's internal computer network at http://fsweb.wo.fs.fed.us/eng/facilities/accrec/

Clear floor or ground space that is 30 inches by 48 inches (760 millimeters by 1,220 millimeters) must be provided at each wheelchair seating space and must be positioned to accommodate a forward approach to the table (see figure 57). No exceptions to the wheelchair seating space requirements are permitted.

Illustration of a campsite that includes a tent, a pedestal grill, and a picnic table. A man using a wheelchair is seated at the table. Dimensions show required picnic table and seating area clear space explained in the paragraph above.
Figure 57—The requirements for
clear space at a picnic table.

In addition to the clear floor or ground space for each wheelchair seating space, a 48-inch (1,220-millimeter) clear floor or ground space is required around the usable portions of the table (see figure 57). Table clearance is measured from the table seat out. Where a condition for departure exists, the table clearance may be reduced to 36 inches (915 millimeters). No other exceptions are permitted. The clear space must be adjacent to the ORAR, but it may not overlap the ORAR.

The slope of the required clear floor or ground space for wheelchair seating spaces and for table clearance can't exceed 1:50 (2 percent) in any direction. An exception is provided that permits a maximum slope of 1:33 (3 percent) where surface conditions require a steeper slope for proper drainage. The surface of the clear floor or ground space must be firm and stable. The type of surfacing used should be appropriate to the setting and level of development. There are exemptions from the slope and surface requirements if a condition for departure exists. This is a particularly important exception for GFAs.

Cooking Surfaces, Grills, and Pedestal Grills

Requirements for accessible cooking surfaces, grills, and pedestal grills include cooking surface height, controls, clear floor or ground space, slope, and surface. Figure 58 shows a typical pedestal grill. Each cooking surface, grill, and pedestal grill must comply with these provisions and at least 20 percent of them must be connected to the other major constructed features at the recreation area by an ORAR. This is the same as, not in addition to, the ORAR connection requirement for picnic units. Even if no constructed features other than cooking surfaces are provided, an ORAR connection is still required. The 20 percent requirement is only a minimum; designers are encouraged to connect more cooking surfaces where it is feasible. Connection to an ORAR isn't required for cooking surfaces, grills, and pedestal grills located in GFAs.

Illustration of a pedestal grill with a tent in the background. Dimensions show the required clear space, slope, and height for the grill that are explained in the paragraph above.
Figure 58—The requirements for height, clear space,
and reach range for a pedestal grill.

The height of the cooking surface must be 15 inches (380 millimeters) to 34 inches (865 millimeters) above the ground or floor surface. This is based on the height for countertops and the minimum low forward reach range in ABAAS. An exception clarifies that this height range doesn't apply to the grill attached to a fire ring because the grill needs to be close to the fire for food to cook properly. More information about fire ring requirements is available in Fire Rings, Fireplaces, and Wood Stoves.

Controls and operating mechanisms for cooking surfaces, grills, and pedestal grills must comply with the provisions for reach ranges and operability specified in ABAAS sections 308 and 309 and explained in Reach Ranges and Operability Requirements.

A clear floor or ground space that is at least 48 inches (1,220 millimeters) deep and 48 inches (1,220 millimeters) wide, as measured from the cooking surface, must be provided around all usable portions of the cooking surface (see figure 58). If a pedestal grill can rotate 360 degrees and all positions along that rotation are usable, the 48-inch (1,220-millimeter) clear space must completely surround the grill. An exception permits the clear floor or ground space to be reduced to 36 inches (915 millimeters) if a condition for departure exists. The clear space must be adjacent to the ORAR, but it can't overlap the ORAR. This clear space is required for safety. Restricted maneuvering room could increase the risk of getting burned.

The slope of the clear floor or ground space can't exceed 1:50 (2 percent) in any direction. Where needed for proper drainage, an exception permits the slope to be up to 1:33 (3 percent) in any direction. The surface of the clear floor or ground space must be firm and stable, and the surface material used should be appropriate to the setting and level of development. As with the picnic table, there are exceptions from the slope and surface requirements if a condition for departure exists. This is particularly relevant where cooking surfaces, grills, and pedestal grills are installed in GFAs.

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