The Final Review

ADA Parking Space Requirements: What is Wrong with This Picture?


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a variety of requirements that apply to parking spaces. We come across parking lots that do not fully meet the ADA’s standards when we do ADA compliance reviews. Businesses and other privately owned entities that operate as places of public accommodation or commercial facilities must have accessible parking lots and structures.

Even existing parking facilities have an obligation to remove barriers to access that are readily achievable. Low-cost upgrades, such as parking lot restriping to create accessible parking spaces and access aisles, are usually viewed as readily achievable.

See if you can find the violation of the ADA parking space requirements in this picture:

Parking-lot_with_accessible_space_before .jpg

The ADA’s Parking Space Requirements

The ADA’s parking space requirements are contained in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards), the regulations that implement the ADA. The United States Access Board’s 2004 ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) are incorporated into the 2010 Standards.

Number of Parking Spaces

ADAAG Chapter 2 contains the ADA’s scoping requirements and specifies in § 208.2 the number of accessible parking spaces required in parking lots and structures.The section provides a chart (Table 208.2) showing the minimum number of accessible parking spaces that must be provided based on the total number of parking spaces in a parking facility. For example, a facility with 51 to 75 parking spaces must provide at least 3 accessible parking spaces and a facility with 151 to 200 parking spaces must provide 6 accessible spaces.

Van parking spaces must be made available for every 6 or fraction of 6 accessible parking spaces required. Thus, for parking facilities requiring 6 or less accessible parking spots, 1 of these must be a van parking space. If 7 accessible parking spaces are required, 2 must provide for a van. In both the above examples, at least 1 of the accessible parking spaces is required to accommodate a van.

There are specific requirements for the number of accessible parking spaces in special types of facilities such as hospital outpatient, rehabilitation, outpatient physical therapy, and residential facilities.

When a location has multiple parking facilities, the required number of accessible spaces must be calculated for each facility.

Placement of Parking Spaces

According to § 208.3, accessible parking spaces must be placed adjoining the shortest accessible route from the parking space to an accessible entrance, unless the parking spaces fall under one of the stated exceptions. Also, if there is more than one accessible entrance, accessible parking spaces must be located proximate to the shortest accessible path for each entrance.

When a parking lot or structure isn’t for a specific building, the accessible spaces must be adjoining the shortest accessible route to an accessible entrance.

Section 502.7 also states that parking spaces and access aisles should be situated so vehicles do not block adjoining accessible routes.

Requirements for Parking Spaces

The technical requirements for accessible parking spaces are part of ADAAG Chapter 5, General Site and Building Elements, and are stated in § 502.

Width of Accessible Parking Spaces

An accessible car parking space must be a minimum of 96 inches wide and a van space must be a minimum of 132 inches wide (a van space may be 96 inches if the access aisle is 96 inches or wider). Markings should be used to represent the width and measurement is from the markings’ centerline.

Access Aisles

Accessible parking spaces must have an access aisle, an area accommodating wheelchair use to or from a car, next to an accessible route. Access aisles (for car and van spaces) must be: (1) a minimum of 60 inches wide; (2) the full length of the parking space; and (3) clearly marked (the type of marking may be specified in state or local law).

Access aisles may be located on either side of a parking space, so long as the aisle doesn’t extend into the traffic lane, and must connect to accessible routes. However, curb ramps should not extend into an access aisle.

One access aisle may be shared by two spaces if the access aisle is located between them. Van spaces that are angled must provide the access aisle on the passenger side.

Ground Surfaces and Vertical Clearance

Both parking spaces and access aisles must comply with the ADAAG § 302 requirements that floor and ground surfaces be “stable, firm, and slip resistant.” Additionally, access aisles must be level with their parking spaces.

The minimum vertical clearance for van parking spaces and the related access aisles is 98 inches.


Accessible parking spaces must have signs identifying them that are placed a minimum of 60 inches (bottom of sign) from the floor or ground so they are clearly visible. Such signs must use the International Symbol of Accessibility (see ADAAG § 703.7.2.1) and signs for van spaces must additionally state, “van accessible.” Sometimes state and local laws may have additional sign requirements.

Now take a closer look at the parking lot in this photo:


The designated accessible parking spaces lack an access aisle. In fact, a truck is parked adjacent to the accessible parking where the access aisle should be located, making it impossible to transfer to a wheelchair. Furthermore, the parking space and adjoining area have large cracks and ruts, as well as a slope steeper than 1:48, preventing an even ground surface that is stable and firm.

Did you also notice the incorrect mounting height of the parking signage? In keeping with ADAAG § 502.6, the bottom of the sign must be 60 inches above the ground to the bottom of the sign.

During our compliance reviews, we often see curb ramps and accessible routes that are out of compliance with the ADA’s requirements. When reviewing a parking lot’s conditions, it is important to remember that curb ramps and access routes from the parking lot or facility must also comply with the ADA’s requirements.

Staying Ahead of Enforcement Actions

The above examples of overlooked ADA parking requirements show the importance of being aware of the ADA’s standards. For information on other important and commonly overlooked ADA requirements, please see our posts on ADA requirements for protruding objects, exit door signage, restrooms, and doors.

In addition to potentially being subject a Department of Justice enforcement action, entities that are out of compliance with the ADA’s requirements may be subject to private party lawsuits. The nature of the damages a private party may receive is affected by both federal and state law. In addition to being aware of the federal ADA requirements, it is important to know your state and local accessibility requirements that may be different or more stringent than the ADA standards.