Inclusive design: outdoor access guidance 1
1. Paths and routes
To achieve a good standard of inclusive design, paths should be designed to be accessible to people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users, and to those with sensory impairments. It is important to consider the aspects outlined below. These notes are intended as a basic guide and not as detailed specifications. It is essential that any design conforms with current Building Regulations.
Width of path
2.0m : room for 2 wheelchairs, or two people, side by side.
1.5m : room for 1 wheelchair plus pedestrian alongside.
1.0m : room for 1 wheelchair with no room alongside.
On busy routes, passing places are particularly important. Where appropriate these may also provide seating.
Paths alongside buildings should be designed to take account of windows that open outwards.
Gradient of paths (see gradients and ramps sheet also)
1:15 - recommended maximum gradient.
1:20 - preferred maximum gradient.
A gradient of 1:12 is the maximum given in the British Standards. In practice this gradient is too steep for many people, particularly older people and wheelchair users with limited upper body strength.
Gradient and length of slope must be considered together. At times, a slightly steeper gradient over a shorter distance may be more acceptable than a gentler one over a long distance. Sustained gradients of more than 1:20 must be interrupted by level resting platforms (approximately 1.8m long) at maximum intervals of 30m.
1:50 - recommended maximum
1:100 - preferred maximum
Cambers present difficulties for both wheelchair users and people with visual impairments.
Path surfaces should be firm, level, non-glare and non-slip when wet or dry. Loose materials, such as gravel, cobbles and uneven setts are not recommended. Hard surfaces must have a well-consolidated sub-base to avoid the surface cracking, moving or rutting.
Links to more outdoor access guidance
Access Chain - a tool we created for reviewing access from the user's perspective
Access statements - samples for you to use
What is inclusive design? Includes overview and links to what inclusive design looks like in practice
Accessible information design - making your communication available to everyone is a crucial part of inclusive design
Our publications - for more information and guidance
Can we help?
Sensory Trust runs consultancy in inclusive design. Read more about our consultancy services >>