How Can I Make a Portable Ramp Safer?

Portable ramps are important to the over 10% of the American population who regularly use wheelchairs. These portable ramps increase accessibility, allowing this group to live life as conveniently as possible. 

With such a large portion of the population using these products, it becomes important to develop portable ramps that are safe to ensure that the user does not incur any kind of injury. Portable ramp safety can be measured in a few ways: stability, surface, and size. These are factors that are crucial to look at when purchasing a portable ramp for a loved one. 


A woman pushing an elderly man in a wheelchair.

This is arguably the most crucial factor that determines the safety of a portable ramp. There are a few factors that contribute to the stability of a portable ramp. The first is how it sits on the platforms below;  if the portable ramp does not sit well on the surfaces it is attempting to connect, it will be wobbly and may lead to injuries. For that reason, it is crucial to design a good “hinge” that provides a stable connection between the ramp and the surface that it is connecting to. 

Another factor that contributes to the stability of the ramp is its weight capacity. These portable ramps are made to be lightweight as it is meant to be traveled with. However, the engineering of these ramps has made them incredibly able to withhold a lot of weight; currently, there are some ramps that are lightweight and are able to withhold up to 800 lbs! Weight capacity is important as it is not just the weight of the person in the wheelchair that needs to be taken into account, it is the wheelchair itself and potentially the person pushing the wheelchair’s weight too. For that reason, in this category, it is better to create a ramp that can withhold more weight than realistically needed. 


A person in a wheel chair and a person side by side.

The surface of the ramp can affect many factors. The first one is its grip. The grip of the ramp is obviously an important factor. The better the grip of a ramp, the less likely your loved one in a wheelchair would slip. There are a couple of factors that contribute to the grip. The first factor is the material used to cover the ramp. Most now include some sort of rubber coating or another non-slip material. This coating provides friction with the wheels of the wheelchair in order to ensure that there is minimal slippage. 

Another factor that contributes to the grip of a portable ramp is whether it contains safety edges/curbs. These are also called “containment edges” and they line the side of the ramp to keep a wheelchair from running off the incline. Safety edges are often meant for longer ramps and short ramps don’t require them. Nevertheless, these edges can further increase the grip of the ramp. 

The surface of the ramp is also important as certain designs allow for water drainage. Water drainage is important as it allows the ramp to be used and remain grippy even under precipitation. Oftentimes, this water drainage comes in the form of holes but choosing a material that allows for maximum water drainage also helps. 

The surface of the ramp also extends to what is called “transition plates.” Transition plates are what they sound like, they are plates that transition the wheelchair from the ground to the ramp. These transition plates ideally would be self adjusting to the angle that the ramp is put on. 


A person using a wheelchair.

Size is the last factor that impacts the safety of a ramp. Besides the obvious realization that a longer ramp would allow for a longer “gap,” it is also important to realize that the longer the ramp, the smaller the angle it forms with the ground. A smaller angle means a more smooth transition which is crucial for safety. For example, ADA ramp specifications require a 1:12 ramp slope ratio. This means that for every 1 inch of vertical rise, there must be 12 inches of ramp length. If the angle is too large, the wheelchair may flip over as it is using the ramp. For that reason, it is crucial to create a longer portable ramp. Oftentimes, the longer the ramp, the better. 

Conclusion: Why safety of Portable ramps is important

Overall, portable ramps are crucial to a huge part of the population. For that reason, the question “How can I Make a Portable Ramp Safer” should be constantly asked. Those with some sort of physical disability are the largest minority group in the United States. It is important to provide them the proper safety to allow them a more accessible world. 

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