Proposed ASTM Standard Aims to Make Sidewalks Safer for Wheelchair Users

The standard addresses “roughness” of sidewalk material.

ASTM International’s Committee on Vehicle-Pavement Systems is developing a standard that will make sidewalks safer and more comfortable for wheelchair users. The proposed standard (WK41917, Practice for Computing Pathway Roughness Index from Longitudinal Profile Measurements) describes a method to collect and analyze data from a sidewalk to determine its roughness.

Roughness can make sidewalks uncomfortable and risky for wheelchair users and others such as parents pushing strollers, postal carriers pushing three-wheeled carts, and people using wheeled walkers.

According to ASTM member Jonathan Pearlman, the proposed standard will be useful in several ways.
“For businesses, the standard could increase the number of customers who are wheelchair users,” says Pearlman, chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board and Co-Founder of Pathway Accessibility Solutions Inc., as well as an assistant professor in the rehabilitation science and technology department of the University of Pittsburgh.

“The standard and related data collection tools will help establish a new service that engineering firms can offer to municipalities and transportation agencies that manage sidewalks and crosswalks,” notes Pearlman.  “For architects and contractors, the proposed standard will help guide design-build approaches for safe and accessible routes.”

He also notes that, in the future, the standard could be referenced in guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ASTM welcomes participation in the development of its standards. Become a member at

Media Inquiries: Dan Bergels, tel +1.610.832.9602;
Technical Contact: Jonathan L. Pearlman, University of Pittsburgh, tel +1.412.822.3664;
ASTM Staff Contact: Julia Lively, tel +1.610.832.9681;