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Vertical circulation

Vertical circulation routes include stairways, radial gangways, ramps, lifts and escalators.

Vertical circulation routes provide for the smooth, unimpeded circulation of all people present during an event.

They include the ground’s stairways, radial gangways, ramps, lifts and escalators.

Designers and the management of sports grounds should consider all aspects of the design, planning and management of vertical circulation routes under both normal and emergency conditions.

Chapter 8 of the Green Guide provides details on the requirements for vertical circulation routes.

Stairways and gangways

A stairway is that part of a structure which is not a radial gangway but which comprises of at least one flight of stairs, including the landings at the head and foot of the stairway, and any landings in between flights.

A radial gangway is a stepped or sloping channel provided for circulation through an area of viewing accommodation, running between seat rows or terrace steps.

A lateral gangway is a level channel provided for circulation through an area of viewing accommodation, running parallel with seat rows or terrace steps.

Movement on stairways, especially downward movement, poses a considerable risk to crowds, both in normal conditions, such as at the end of an event, or in an emergency.

The effects of stumbling, pushing, jostling and congestion can be particularly dangerous if, as a result, the crowd suddenly surges forward or if, for any reason, any individuals suddenly change direction.

Basic specifications for stairways include:

  • The width should be uniform
  • All goings (or stair treads) and risers on each stairway should be uniform between floors and landings
  • All goings should be slip-resistant, have durable edgings, and, where appropriate, have adequate drainage.
  • All nosings should be clearly marked by means of a permanently contrasting paint or materials, fixed to both the going and the riser. These markings or materials should be a minimum width of 55mm and should not in themselves constitute a trip hazard.
  • On the top and bottom treads of external stairways, tactile paving (also known as corduroy) should be provided for the benefit of people who are blind or partially sighted.
  • Stairways should always be adequately illuminated but wherever possible should be positioned to take advantage of natural light and ventilation.

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