Crossfall is the slope of the footpath at right angles to the direction of travel. If there is no gradient, some crossfall is required for drainage, but excessive crossfall in the footpath through zone requires many people (including for example, those using manual wheelchairs) to use extra energy to resist the sideways forces.[1] As the crossfall is invariably towards the road where footpaths are in the road reserve, anyone losing their balance is directed towards motorised traffic.

Footpath through zone crossfalls should always be minimised:

  • Crossfall should be as flat as practicable consistent with achieving an adequately drained surface. Excessive crossfall causes problems for some people.[2]
  • If the path has a crown (ie the cross-section is slightly convex to drain stormwater), then a wider crown can benefit people using personal mobility devices as they can travel the crown and experience no crossfall.
  • NZS 4121[3] specifies a maximum crossfall of 1:50 (2 percent). Note that Austroads and the Australian Standard 1428:1:2009 both specify 2.5 percent, but the NZ standard supersedes these.
  • Crossfall is often an issue at driveways

PNG: Driveways

The crossfall is really important. If it's more than 2 percent and I am using my manual wheelchair, it is exhausting trying to keep myself traveling straight ahead.


Where conditions could lead to greater crossfall, the footpath can be raised or lowered over the whole width. Alternatively, steeper crossfalls can be created in the street furniture and/or frontage zones as shown below.

a wheelchair rider on a footpath with acceptable crossfall

Footpath with acceptable crossfall, Christchurch (Photo: Jeanette Ward)

correct and incorrect provision of crossfall

Correct and incorrect provision of crossfall



[1] Architectural and Transportation Compliance Board. 1999. Accessible rights of way: A design guide.

[2] Austroads (2017) Guide to Road Design Part 6A

[3] Section 13 Accessible outdoor public areas in NZS 4121:2001 Design for Access and Mobility – Buildings and Associated Facilities