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Modern Parking

ADA Compliant Parking Spaces (Chapter 5)

Since the 1970s, American parking lots have been providing easily accessible, specially marked spaces for persons with disabilities that affect their mobility.  The spaces are usually placed in close proximity to the main entrance of a public building or business, with no impediments like curbs or medians to limit a disabled person’s access to a facility.

Slowly, and with the help of law enforcement, Americans have become accustom to the special parking and have begun to respect the spaces—ensuring that there is ample access for everyone.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone understands why it is necessary to have the parking spaces or who decides how many there are.

The ADA Rules

The determining factors in how many parking spaces must be provided in a parking lot are clearly defined and apply to all parking lots, general access or regulated access.  These rules apply to each associated lot for a building.  That means that if a building has two or more separate lots, the rules apply to each lot individually, not cumulatively.  A building with two lots, one that has 28 spaces and another with 210 spaces must have two handicap spaces and seven handicap spaces, respectively.  The building cannot put all seven handicap spaces in one of the lots, and none in the other, even if one is in closer proximity to the building.

Parking facilities must offer a minimum number of ADA-accessible spaces.  The minimum number of spaces is based on a sliding scale and has been calculated to provide a reasonable population-based ratio of regular spaces to restricted use spaces.

The ADA also outlines the number of larger, van-accessible spaces required.  The rules state that at lease one out of every six ADA compliant spaces must be van-accessible.

The basic requirements for some common parking lot sizes are:


Parking Facility Total Minimum Number of Accessible Spaces
Standard Van* Total 
(Standard + Van)
1 – 25 0 1 1
26 – 50 1 1 2
51 – 75 2 1 3
76 – 100 3 1 4
101 – 150 4 1 5
201 – 300 5 2 7
501 – 550 9 2 11**


Also, if you are building a lot that will accommodate valet parking, you are still required to provide the ADA mandated number of handicap spaces.  The thinking behind this is quite reasonable; many citizens that are considered mobility-challenged utilize adaptive driving equipment.  Such equipment may be unfamiliar or difficult for an untrained person to use.  It is easier for the citizen to park themselves, than turn over parking to a valet.

Dispersion of Spaces

It is advisable for a facility to disperse the ADA compliant spaces in such a fashion as to optimize accessibility for mobility-challenged people.  For example, a shopping center with a large anchor retailer and several smaller stores would do well to provide the majority of spaces near the anchor and a limited number by each curb ramp provided near the smaller stores.

In cases where two or more buildings share a common parking facility, the capacity of each building should be a consideration in the dispersion of ADA compliant parking spaces.  For example, a shopping mall with an outparcel should distribute the spaces in such a fashion to benefit both facilities yet maintain an equitable number of spaces to each business.

Proper Placement

A common mistake in placing ADA compliant handicap parking spaces is ignoring the presence of curb ramps and positioning the spaces directly in front of a building’s entryways.  It is perfectly acceptable, and actually preferred that spaces be positioned closest to the nearest curb ramp—even if the ramp is to the side of a building.  As long as the ramp is part of a safe walkway or pedestrian area that leads to an accessible entryway, it need not be centered in front of the main entrance.

Also, if a parking facility undergoes an alteration, it is important to adjust the number of compliant spaces appropriately.  This means, if a lot is resurfaced and the number of spots changes as a result of the resurfacing, a facility must adjust the ADA spaces to meet the code.  (i.e. if a lot had 74 total parking spaces before a reconditioning project, but has 77 after the project, an additional ADA compliant space is necessary).  This rule does not apply to any resurfacing or line painting that does not change the total number of available spots.

Residential Parking Lots

In apartment complex parking areas and other residential areas served by a common parking area, the rules are directly affected by the number of housing units versus the number of parking units.  If there are an equal or greater number of parking units than housing units, the property need only supply one handicap compliant parking space for each handicap-accessible housing unit.  In facilities where there are fewer parking spaces than there are housing units, there is no requirement for handicap-accessible parking spaces, though the United States Access Board recommends following the ADA Rules for parking facilities.

Proper Markings

All parking facilities should be clearly marked for vehicle spaces and pedestrian movement.  The ADA Rules require handicap-accessible spaces be marked with blue boundaries and the familiar wheelchair logo.  DOT reflective signage should be mounted at the head of each accessible space at a height of 60” from the ground.  Van-accessible spaces should be specially noted with the ADA signage.

Walkways and pedestrian areas should be painted either blue, yellow or white to clearly indicate areas where vehicles are prohibited.  Reflective paint or markings are not required but are advisable.

Help with ADA Standards

Serving clients in New Jersey, New York and Eastern Pennsylvania, the experienced professionals at East Coast Paving and Site Development are prepared to help you achieve the standards for ADA compliance.

For additional questions about ADA compliance, contact the paving experts at East Coast Paving and Site Development at 732-329-3600 or email


2850 Woodbridge Avenue, Unit F
Edison, NJ 08837

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