What is cross slope, anyway? If’s how much a sidewalk or surface slopes from side to side. We hear a lot about how steep ramps are (how much work is it to get up it), but not a whole lot about cross slope. If you are a wheelchair user, and your right wheel is lower than your left wheel as you traverse a space, you’re going to be working a whole lot harder on the right to keep going straight. Cross slope affects people with other disabilities as well, making it more difficult for them to move about in their environment.
Why do sidewalks have cross slope? Generally, for drainage. Builders slope the sidewalk towards the street so that water will run off into the street gutter.
Scott Rains reports on cross slope research done by the Human Engineering Research Laboratory (HERL) at the University of Pittsburgh. Clearly more work needs to be done, but I’m thrilled that the issue is getting some attention.