🏠Chapter 2: Entrance Routes

These universal design elements refer to features of the pathways between parking areas and the entrance(s) of a home.

Residential Universal Design Building Code, 2024 version. © The UD Project.

Section 2.1: Measurements

2.1.1 Pathway width ≥ 48 inches.

The pathway width should be no less than 48" (122cm) at the narrow-most part.

48 inches of minimum width at the narrow-most point is ideal for anyone who uses a mobility device, parents who push strollers, or to offer easy access for moving large items. Even if the total width isn’t used, an element of safety results from space to move side-to-side.

2.1.2 Pathway running slope ≤ 1:20.

The pathway running slope (i.e., forward and backward) should be no greater than 1:20 (2.86º).


Ramps may be necessary for some sites, though they should be avoided when possible. If a ramp is the best option, it needs to be integrated with the rest of the design to be inviting to everyone.

Running slopes of ramps should be no more than 1:12 (4.76º).

Steep slopes are difficult to travel on, especially in inclement weather. If someone needs extra support while walking or using a wheelchair, a steep incline increases the difficulty of safely getting up and down the pathway.

2.1.3 Pathway cross slope ≤ 1:50.

The pathway cross slope (i.e., side-to-side) should be no greater than 1:50 (1.15º).

Cross slopes can be challenging for individuals to navigate if too steep because more power and/or balance on one side is required. This is a similar issue as experienced on a tilted walkway in a funhouse, a swinging bridge moving side-to-side when walking on it, or mowing the grass on a hill.

Section 2.2: Features

2.2.1 No steps.

There should be no steps required for access to any entrances.

Everyone should be able to navigate the routes to all entrances, regardless of ability. Without stairs, anyone can more quickly and easily access the main entrance when it's not required to carefully watch foot placement, navigate obstructions for mobility equipment, or use unnecessary effort. It’s common to see the main entrance separate from an accessible one because of stairs or other barriers. This is not characteristic of universal design, and it’s segregating.

Ironically, some accessible entrances require more effort than necessary if a greater distance is required for people to travel. Individuals who cannot walk long distances because of pain or decreased endurance often find that the intended “easier pathway” is difficult despite more obvious barriers (e.g., steps) not being an issue.

2.2.2 Covered.

Entrance routes between parking areas and at least one entrance should be covered to protect from the weather. Ideally, this will be the shortest entrance route if multiple exist.

Covered entrance routes create protection from sun, wind, rain, and snow. Moving from parking to an entrance under cover is easier and more comfortable than if exposed to the elements, whether or not a health condition is present.

2.2.3 Solid surface.

Pathway surfaces used along the entrance route should be solid. This will likely require asphalt, smooth concrete, textured or aggregate concrete, wood decking, composite decking, and/or textured/slip-resistant metal.


If brick, pavers, or other solid surfaces are used, they must be level and installed to minimize the chance of becoming uneven, creating unnecessary hazards that can cause people to trip and/or fall.

Asphalt or concrete surfaces are typically the best options for people who rely on support (wheelchairs, canes, etc.) for mobility and are less likely to cause someone to trip because they are generally smooth and even.

Pathways made out of wood or metal should be durable and slip-resistant. Some decking and ramps can be hazardous when wet. Wood can warp and weather.

2.2.4 Easy to maintain.

Pathways should be easy to maintain to prevent cracks, gaps, or bumps.

Weather and regular use can cause surfaces to become uneven over time, creating unnecessary hazards that cause people to trip and/or fall. Sometimes, the slightest bump (even a half inch) can cause a wheel or foot to get caught, potentially throwing someone’s balance off.

2.2.5 Evenly lit.

The entire pathway along the entrance routes needs to be evenly lit with minimal areas of shadow. This will most likely require multiple light fixtures.

Thoughtful and thorough lighting is necessary for safe and easy navigation of pathways at night or in dark areas (under the cover of trees, stairwells, etc). The objective should be to minimize shadows. The placement of light sources is essential for people to focus on where they are going. Positioning is crucial to help users avoid looking directly toward a light source, which can cause glare and become a barrier.

Lighting low to the ground/floor or just above the ground/floor can create cues about the direction to follow. Use low lights to help define the pathway, but don’t make these lights a focal point.

Recommended: indirect and low lighting:

Using indirect ambient lighting and low lighting that illuminates the floor without visible bare bulbs or translucent covers (from a seated or standing position) is ideal. Indirect lighting reduces eye strain and is more calming than direct lighting.

2.2.6 Automatic lighting activation.

Lights need to be able to be activated automatically.

Using motion detectors, proximity sensors, and/or timers to trigger lights can create safety and security and add convenience when kids, groceries, or some kind of mobility device occupy hands.

Last updated

© Pruett & Co.