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California Building Code Excerpt

Section 11B-405 Ramps

Code excerpt regarding technical requirements for ramps: general, slope, cross-slope, floor or ground surfaces, clear width, rise, landings, handrails, edge protection, and wet conditions.

11B-405 Ramps

11B-405.1 General. Ramps on accessible routes shall comply with Section 11B-405.

Exception: In assembly areas, aisle ramps adjacent to seating and not serving elements required to be on an accessible route shall not be required to comply with Section 11B-405.

At first, this exception may seem a bit tautological considering the basic requirement only applies to “ramps on accessible routes.” However, the exception is indirectly addressing the requirement in Division 3 that accessible routes be provided in the same general locations as other circulation routes. Without this exception, raked assembly seating would be limited to 1:12 slope maximum regardless of whether there were any accessible seating options. Do note, however, that this exception only applies in assembly areas, so ramps elsewhere are required to comply with Section 11B-405 unless they are wholly contained within a room or space that is exempt from providing an accessible route.

11B-405.2 Slope. Ramp runs shall have a running slope not steeper than 1:12.

Exception: Reserved.

Advisory 11B-405.2 Slope. To accommodate the widest range of users, provide ramps with the least possible running slope and, wherever possible, accompany ramps with stairs for use by those individuals for whom distance presents a greater barrier than steps, e.g., people with heart disease or limited stamina.

Despite what anyone else may claim—and with the possible exception of a local jurisdiction’s regulations to the contrary—there is no “official” or “required” method for measuring slope on a ramp for ADA Title II or Title III facilities. There is no requirement to use a so-called “smart” level (more generally known as a “digital inclinometer”). There is no minimum or maximum length of a level or digital inclinometer. However, the concept of determining slope by calculting the total rise divided by the total run is not acceptable (currently) within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for the United States due to a citable ruling in Kirola v. the City and County of San Francisco (No. 14-17521, 9th Cir. 2017), because in that appeal the federal court found that the “maximum localized variation” of slope was a reasonable determination of the maximum slope (see page 34 of the ruling). While the Kirola ruling was limited to curb ramps, specifically to curb ramps installed in the public right of way by a Title II entity, and even more specifically to public work in San Francisco, the court’s reasoning is likely to be cited by other defendants seeking compensation for excessively sloped surfaces they encounter.

11B-405.3 Cross slope. Cross slope of ramp runs shall not be steeper than 1:48.

Advisory 11B-405.3 Cross slope. Cross slope is the slope of the surface perpendicular to the direction of travel. Cross slope is measured the same way as slope is measured (i.e., the rise over the run).

See discussion above regarding techniques for measuring slope.

Advisory 11B-405.3 Cross slope. Curved ramps are not prohibited by Chapter 11B; however, requirements for maximum slope and cross-slope cannot be exceeded.

11B-405.4 Floor or ground surfaces. Floor or ground surfaces of ramp runs shall comply with Section 11B-302. Changes in level other than the running slope and cross slope are not permitted on ramp runs.

11B-405.5 Clear width. The clear width of a ramp run shall be 48 inches (1219 mm) minimum.


  1. Within employee work areas, the required clear width of ramps that are a part of common use circulation paths shall be permitted to be decreased by work area equipment provided that the decrease is essential to the function of the work being performed.
  2. Handrails may project into the required clear width of the ramp at each side 3 1/2 inches (89 mm) maximum at the handrail height.
  3. The clear width of ramps in residential uses serving an occupant load of fifty or less shall be 36 inches (914 mm) minimum between handrails.

11B-405.6 Rise. The rise for any ramp run shall be 30 inches (762 mm) maximum.

11B-405.7 Landings. Ramps shall have landings at the top and the bottom of each ramp run. Landings shall comply with Section 11B-405.7.

Advisory 11B-405.7 Landings. Ramps that do not have level landings at changes in direction can create a compound slope that will not meet the requirements of this chapter. Circular or curved ramps continually change direction. Curvilinear ramps with small radii also can create compound cross slopes and cannot, by their nature, meet the requirements for accessible routes. A level landing is needed at the accessible door to permit maneuvering and simultaneously door operation.

Figure 11B-405.7 Ramp Landings
Figure 11B-405.7 Ramp Landings

11B-405.7.1 Slope. Landings shall comply with Section 11B-302. Changes in level are not permitted.

Exception: Slopes not steeper than 1:48 shall be permitted.

11B-405.7.2 Width. The landing clear width shall be at least as wide as the widest ramp run leading to the landing.

11B-405.7.2.1: Top landings shall be 60 inches (1524 mm) wide minimum.

Advisory 11B-405.7.2.1 Top landing width. Handrail extensions are not permitted to obstruct required clear landing dimensions except as allowed by the exception to Section 11B-307.2. Where the ramp width is less than the top landing width additional landing length may be necessary to accommodate handrail extensions required to be in the direction of the ramp run without diminishing the required clear landing length. Additional landing length may be provided across the entire landing width or as a level extension at the top of the ramp run.

11B-405.7.3 Length. The landing clear length shall be 60 inches (1524 mm) long minimum.

11B-405.7.3.1: Bottom landings shall extend 72 inches (1829 mm) minimum in the direction of ramp run.

11B-405.7.4 Change in direction. Ramps that change direction between runs at landings shall have a clear landing 60 inches (1525 mm) minimum by 72 inches (1829 mm) minimum in the direction of downward travel from the upper ramp run.

11B-405.7.5 Doorways. Where doorways are located adjacent to a ramp landing, maneuvering clearances required by Sections 11B-404.2.4 and 11B-404.3.2 shall be permitted to overlap the required landing area. Doors, when fully open, shall not reduce the required ramp landing width by more than 3 inches (76 mm). Doors, in any position, shall not reduce the minimum dimension of the ramp landing to less than 42 inches (1067 mm).

Advisory 11B-405.7.5 Doors at ramp landings. Where a door swings onto a ramp landing width, additional ramp landing length is necessary to accommodate a clear level area for the wheelchair user to clear the door swing and not risk rolling backward down the ramp run. Where the ramp width is less than the landing width, additional ramp landing length may be provided as a level extension at the top of the ramp run, or the entire width of the landing.

11B-405.8 Handrails. Ramp runs shall have handrails complying with Section 11B-505.


  1. Reserved.
  2. Reserved.
  3. Curb ramps do not require handrails.
  4. At door landings, handrails are not required on ramp runs less than 6 inches (152 mm) in rise or 72 inches (1829 mm) in length.

11B-405.9 Edge protection. Edge protection complying with Section 11B-405.9.2 shall be provided on each side of ramp runs and at each side of ramp landings.


  1. Edge protection shall not be required on ramps that are not required to have handrails and have sides complying with Section 11B-406.2.2.
  2. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings serving an adjoining ramp run or stairway.
  3. Edge protection shall not be required on the sides of ramp landings having a vertical drop-off of 1/2 inch (12.7 mm) maximum within 10 inches (254 mm) horizontally of the minimum landing area specified in Section 11B-405.7.

11B-405.9.1 Reserved.

11B-405.9.2 Curb or barrier. A curb, 2 inches (51 mm) high minimum, or barrier shall be provided that prevents the passage of a 4 inch (102 mm) diameter sphere, where any portion of the sphere is within 4 inches (102 mm) of the finish floor or ground surface. To prevent wheel entrapment, the curb or barrier shall provide a continuous and uninterrupted barrier along the length of the ramp.

Figure 11B-405.9.2 Curb or Barrier Edge Protection
Figure 11B-405.9.2 Curb or Barrier Edge Protection

11B-405.10 Wet conditions. Landings subject to wet conditions shall be designed to prevent the accumulation of water.