ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
The name of this company is ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC
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by Richard Acree of ADA Inspections Nationwide, LLC

Boating Facility and Fishing Pier Accessibility for ADA

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Public boating facilities and fishing piers must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for accessibility by disabled individuals. The photo on the right is a public fishing pier in Jackson, MS.

The 2010 Standards and ADAAG requires that at least one accessible route connect accessible buildings, facilities, elements and spaces on the site. Accessible fishing piers and platforms and other accessible spaces and elements within a fishing facility must also be connected by an accessible route. The accessible route must comply with provisions for the location, width (minimum of 36 inches), passing space, head room, surface, slope (maximum of 1:12 or 8.33%), changes in level, doors, egress, and areas of rescue assistance, unless otherwise modified. See the diagram below for an example of the components of an accessible route.

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Diagram of Accessible Route at Boating Facility

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One component of these installations that is unique to boating facilities is a gangway. A gangway is a variable-sloped pedestrian walkway linking a fixed structure or land with a floating structure. See the photo on the right. Where gangways are provided as part of accessible routes to connect accessible boat slips on floating piers, there are exceptions to the 2010 Standards and ADAAG accessible route provisions that have been included in the guidelines to deal with the varying water level changes and other factors in this dynamic environment. Designers and operators should note that there are no exceptions to the accessible route requirements where the accessible route connects fixed piers to land or other fixed structures.

Boat slips are also unique to boating facilities. A boat slip is the portion of a pier, main pier, finger pier, or float where a boat is berthed or moored, or used for embarking or disembarking. Where boat slips are provided, the number of boat slips required to be accessible must comply with a table shown in the 2010 ADA Standards. Boarding piers that are not part of boat launch ramps are also classified as boat slips. If piers at a facility are not identified or demarcated by length, each 40 feet of pier edge along the perimeter of the pier will be counted as one boat slip. See the diagram below for a representation.

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Boat Pier Counted as Boat Slip

Accessible boat slips must have clear pier space at least 60 inches wide and as long as the slip. Providing more than 60 inches wide clear space will improve safety for people with disabilities, especially on floating piers. This space is the minimum necessary for individuals with disabilities to have sufficient space adjacent to their boat slip to use a chair lift or transfer device for getting on or off their vessel and provide a turning space for changing directions. Every 10 feet of linear pier edge serving the accessible slips must have at least one continuous clear opening that is at least 60 inches wide. See the diagram below. There are exceptions to these measurements.

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Boat Slip Measurements

Edge protection is not required for piers or slips, but if provided, the edge protection can be 4 inches high maximum and 2 inches deep maximum at the continuous clear openings.

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Edge Protection for Piers and Boat Slips

Fishing piers have similar requirements for an accessible route. Requirements unique to fishing piers include the design and installation of a guardrail. Although not required, where railings, guardrails, or handrails are provided on a fishing pier or platform, they must meet ADA provisions for height, spacing and dispersion. For instance, at least 25 percent of the guard rails must be 34 inches or less in height above the ground or deck so a person using a wheelchair or other mobility device has the opportunity to fish. Other rules apply to the toe space below the railing and a maneuvering space behind the section of railing that is 34 inches high. See the diagram below.

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Fishing Pier Guardrail Installation

The photo below is another one from a fishing pier in Jackson, MS. You should be able to see where the top of the guardrail is lower in one section.



Recreational boating facilities and fishing piers can include fixed and floating facilities. Facilities can vary in size from one boat slip (for example, at a small campground facility) to several thousand slips, and can handle boats ranging in size from small canoes to large sailboats and powerboats. Facilities may be located in the same waterfront area or even in the same site (such as a State park with a large lake) and include marinas, launching facilities, piers, and docks that are designed for recreational use. These facilities must comply with the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design for accessibility by handicapped individuals. The rules discussed in this article are only a representation of the complete requirements for these facilities.

Please call me at 615-752-0060 if you have any questions, or comment below.

If you observe a building that is not ADA compliant and you would like to know how to proceed, please see the link at What To Do When A Building Is Not ADA Compliant or Accessible.

Thank you,

Richard Acree