The normal construction is a half-round, rectangular, trapezial or V-shaped enclosure with a hinged gate trapped between its arms. When the gate is parked at either side of the enclosure, there is no gap to pass through. However, the gate can be pushed to give access to the small enclosure, then moved in the opposite direction to close the first opening and allow exit from the enclosure to the other side. The enclosure may be made large enough to accommodate pushchairs and wheelchairs. The gate itself is usually self-closing, to the side away from the land where animals are kept. The self-closing may be by hinge geometry but sometimes by a spring or weight.
This design of gate does not usually allow bicycles to be taken through, and they must be lifted over the fence. Alternatively they (or horses) may pass instead through an adjacent conventional gate, or an additional latch may allow the kissing gate itself to open fully for this purpose.
The name may be associated with a traditional game played when more than one person is passing through a kissing gate. In order for one person to pass fully through the gate they have to close it to the next person. At this point, when the two are on either side of the gate, the person in front "refuses" entry to the second person until presented with a kiss. Indeed in some circles it is considered good form for everyone passing through a kissing gate to exchange kisses in this way (provided all parties are sufficiently friendly with each other).
A possible alternative origin for the name is that the gate merely "kisses" (touches) the enclosure either side, rather than needing to be securely latched.
Kissing gates are included in a British Standard: BS5709:2006: Gaps, Gates & Stiles ISBN 0 580 48107 7. The standard is functional rather than prescriptive.
It was announced by certain local councils, towards the end of November 2007, that kissing gates posed "unacceptable obstruction to the disabled". This announcement came from an interpretation of The Disability Discrimination Act that states public services should make "reasonable adjustments" to allow disabled access. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have supported this viewpoint and have suggested that the gates should be replaced with a type that would allow access to disabled persons.
Trapezial arthroplasty with silicone rubber implantation for advanced osteoarthritis of the trapeziometacarpal joint of the thumb
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