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You are expecting crowds to line up due to a sale, so you get out the speed rails and place them on the sidewalk to better organize people while waiting to get in. Rather than have the line as a single queue you arrange it to have several switchbacks. You measured it off and are providing 36″ continually between the rails. This is adequate correct?

You would typically be fine as long as you have 36″ clear, and clear means from the edge of the base of the stanchions holding up the speed rail not just between the rails. But, since you have switchbacks, the end at the switchback requires more space in order to do the 180° turn. This clear dimension at the end is 60″ minimum. It can go down to less if the switchback is around an object that is 48″ or wider. In the latter case you would only need 36″ at the end.

One thing to note. If you have a queue inside a store (or anywhere else for that matter) with merchandise on both sides, the minimum width of the queue goes up from 36″ min to 44″. In this case with a switchback, you need only 48″ min clear at the switchback rather than 60″. If the switchback goes around an object such as a display case that is 48″ or more wide then the switchback can go down to 36″ or 48″ at the end depending upon whether it is single loaded or double loaded.

Be aware that your local City or County may have additional requirements that are more restrictive than the State or Federal requirements. Also, this article is an interpretation and opinion of the writer. It is meant as a summary – current original regulations should always be reviewed when making any decisions.

© Janis Kent, Architect 2012