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Posted on Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Do you feel safe using Ann Arbor crosswalks?

By Paula Gardner

Related story: Police: Ann Arbor bicyclist still in critical condition from crash on Monday

The pedestrian started into the Washtenaw Avenue crosswalk near Platt Road as my minivan rolled past, and I tried to watch in my rear-view mirror to make sure that the man's waving arms gave drivers enough notice to stop for him.

His strategy appeared to work, as I saw nothing alarming as I continued on my way west on Wednesday morning toward the Stadium Boulevard split.

Yet the image of that man stayed with me for hours after I reached my desk at and continued directing our coverage of the accident that critically injured a woman Monday afternoon in that very crosswalk.


That woman — a 55-year-old Ann Arbor resident — remains in critical condition today, we're told. And while we haven't talked to the driver, I'm concerned for him, too.

Police are saying excessive speed wasn't a factor in the collision.

That leaves me to consider: What is the role of the crosswalk there?

It's a common thread among commenters on our original story on the post, too. More than 200 people have weighed in on this situation, with the bicyclist's well-being, the design of the crosswalk and the city's pedestrian ordinance sharing their attention.

I'm in favor of making the city pedestrian-friendly. But, this morning, as I passed that man trying to cross the five lanes of Washtenaw Avenue — one of the busiest routes in this county — I couldn't help but think to myself that I don't (or wouldn't) feel safe using many of the marked crosswalks in this city.

We're wondering what you think. Take our poll and let us know.

Meanwhile, we'll continue our coverage. We hope to talk to the family of the cyclist and to the driver. And we'll also be asking for follow-up information from city officials about how they view this situation and the overall safety of crosswalks.



Sat, Aug 25, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.

Not at all! Throughout the last fews weeks of school in June, there was a lot of construction work going on at the intersection of Liberty Avenue and South Seventh Street. My friends and I walk to school (Slauson) every morning, and we've been walking across that intersection every morning since 6th grade. Asphalt trucks, cement trucks, and many others were in that intersection around 7:30 in the morning when we walked to attend school and at 3:00 in the afternoon when we all walked home. There was always at least one crosswalk working. One day, when we were walking home, we were crossing the first crosswalk from the corner of Liberty and Seventh across the entire Liberty road to the other side. A speeding cement truck comes barreling around the corner forcing half of our walking group to run back to the curb as quickly as possible, and half of our group to sprint to the other side to avoid getting hit by this huge cement truck being driven by this man who was screaming at us out the window when the crosswalk was clearly white with the "walking man" and we had the right of way. From that day forward my friends and I had to be sure to take extra precaution when crossing a CROSSWALK! Where people should be able to walk to without the thought of being hit by cars that try to speed around the corner before you cross the street! Hands down I'm very dissapointed.

Angela Todd

Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

Some motorists are very respectful. Others will not stop, under any conditions. I was hit on a sidewalk, where someone entered a driveway. There were no trees, bushes, or any obstructions, of any kind to obscure her vision. After she hit me (a light brushing off of her front, driver's side fender) and I started to fall over onto the sidewalk, I screamed through her driver's side window, "You just HIT me! You just HIT me!" She looked puzzled, slowly opened her window and meekly said, "I'm sorry" and drove on with her female companion, sitting next to her. I have also seen driver's who only look one way, instead of several ways, before pulling out into traffic, in front of YOU. That's YOU, with a green light, in a marked crosswalk. I was in an accident this Summer, as I crossed, in a marked crosswalk. A car, that was speeding, that I didn't even see, after I had looked carefully, made a right-hand turn in front of me. I couldn't stop my bicycle, as the car was only a few inches in front of me. I hit the car, and flew through the air, landing on the street. I waited at the scene around a half hour for the police. No one would help me, as my right knee was bleeding and missing a chunk of skin. One nice neighbor helped me to put the chain back on my bike. I have many such stories. Whenever I am the one behind the wheel of any vehicle, I remember how things were...and still are...when I'm on foot, on a bike, etc. By the way, on the other side of the coin, I have seen pedestrians and bicyclists, who are so into their cell phones and texting that they would walk into you or ride into you, never seeing anything coming, as they never look up. I refuse to carry any piece of machinery with me whether driving a vehicle, riding a bike, or walking. Ann Arbor resident, Angela F. Todd.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

The crosswalks do not bother me, but I hate it when the sidewalks are clogged with homeless beggers.

Doug Scott

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.

Ellie is right: "In California they (cars) always stop for pedestrians in any crosswalk, period. and it works." So are we admitting that Michigan drivers 'can't drive and chew gum at the same time?'


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:59 a.m.

HUH?!!!! NOT when I was there -- over the course of DECADES! Pedestrians are DEAD MEAT in CA!


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 1:54 a.m.

I always feel safe using the crosswalks. My mom taught me to look both ways but I have found there is no need now that we have this new crosswalk law. Now I just walk down the sidewalk texting and listening to my iPod. Whenever I feel like it, I just step out in traffic and hope for the best. Ann Arbor's laws will protect me.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:55 a.m.

Nanny state? HERE?!!!

Patricia Lesko

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

Shortly after the new ordinance was passed, as I walked my son to the school bus one dark morning when the roads were slick, I watched a man emerge from the woods that border Pontiac Trail near Arrowwood with a flashing bicycle light. He held the light out and stepped into the path of a line of oncoming cars—all while arrogantly staring forward. Fortunately, the man's school aged son remained on the curb well behind him. @Kathy Griswold puts it best when she points out this dangerous situation was created by opportunistic politicians. I made sure both of my kids heard about the accident that left this poor cyclist so badly injured, as they routinely commute to school by bike and cross Plymouth Road by the Broadway Bridge (where there is a pedestrian crosswalk with a handy sign at the bottom of a hill on a curve). They (and I) cross with the lights at corners on major roads when walking and cycling. Period. Only a fool would hold a flashing bike light and walk out in front of a car without looking. Unfortunately, this new ordinance was endorsed by many who believe such stupidity means we have a more pedestrian-friendly town. Yes, cyclists and pedestrians must to be able to cross the streets safely—on this we must agree. However, one HAWK signal, poorly signed crosswalks and a few flashing lights hastily installed after accidents occurred have led to a tragedy that could have been avoided by putting safety in front of political opportunism. This is partially the result of a pathological inability of our mayor and his political allies to admit error and correct mistakes.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:52 a.m.

Exactly! Thanks for your very accurate remarks!


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 12:09 a.m.

I do feel safe using the crosswalks. IF I look both ways and there is no one coming.... Otherwise, no.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:50 a.m.

Exactly! Thanks!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

Thanks for your article. I'm glad to see so many people understand that that crosswalk, in particular, simply doesn't belong there. Besides the five lanes, speed limit (45 miles an hour, with speeders going even faster), and the heavy traffic of that section of road, there is also a hill right there (shown in the photo), which limits visibility. Left turns are disallowed at Platt Road. If it is unsafe for motor vehicles to turn left at that spot, how is it safe for pedestrians to cross five lanes of high-speed, busy road there? The left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing in the Ann Arbor city government. That was a disaster just waiting to happen -- created by the city.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

Never assume traffic will stop for you. That is why Ann Arbor's laws are so confusing. They have signs up on Plymouth Road and some people will stop now but if there is no sign they will almost never stop. It's probably more dangerous where there are signs and some stop because others don't so no one knows what to do. In California they always stop for pedestrians in any crosswalk, period. And it works.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

Moved from CA a few years ago, and I never had an issue or problem stopping for pedistrians in the cross walks -- AT THE corners where there were cross walks on residential roads and typically stop lights where there were roads with higher traffic. Putting x-walks in the middle of roads with 45-50mph speeds, 4 lanes, curves (Plymouth Rd) or rises (Washtenaw/Platt) is going to lead to more life changing/life ending events.

Doug Scott

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

Ellie is right: "In California they (cars) always stop for pedestrians in any crosswalk, period. and it works." So are we admitting that Michigan drivers 'can't drive and chew gum at the same time?'

martini man

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

Get rid of the liberals running Ann Arbor, and you probably will get rid of this asinine and dangerous crosswalk law. However I sincerely doubt that such a thing will ever happen . SO ..unless someone is killed either walking or driving, and huge lawsuits entail, I don't see this law going away. The city couincil folks are way too egotistical and steeped in liberalism to ever admit that they were wrong. Meanwhile, walk very carefully, and make sure your life insurance and medical policies are current.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.



Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

I tend to avoid using crosswalks and just wait for a break in traffic if I'm not crossing at a light. I do this because I don't want to endanger or inconvenience drivers who might stop for me on a busy street. There's no reason for them to risk either a ticket or an accident because of me. Of course I also wouldn't feel safe crossing unless all lanes had stopped.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

I just saw a dog getting hit on the entrance at north main street from the expressway. There is no way to avaoid stuff like this at 45 I think 45 mph in the city is too fast. There are folks doing over 55. You should see these folks eyes. They do not care about cross walks.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

We need to stop building crosswalks. People should stop expecting to be able to cross the street every block with a crosswalk. Use the crosswalks at the stop lights. It is safer and more logical to think the cars will stop at the red light. It also saves money to use the existing lights. Being a pedestrian friendly city does not mean 14 crosswalks between Green road and Broadway. Walk an extra block or 2 to a light to cross and be more likely to live and shed a pound.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:40 p.m.

Agree 100%. Plymouth Road has become a joke.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

I have been running out on the roads for 45 years. It would be a good guess to know how many intersections I crossed, marked or unmarked. If you average 8 to 10 per mile, I'd be over a million. Common sense is gotten me safe to this point. The marked cross walk should be a yield to motorist but it is not always. I could have been hit this morning but I had to yield when I clearly had the right of way at the corner of Hill and Packard. The truck would have flatted me, who was making a left turn onto EB Hill, had I been bull headed and thought I had the right of way. Pedestrians must take responsibility. Perhaps the city is doing us more of a disservice by providing all these cross walks. Even if 90% of motorist are willing to yield, it only takes that 10% who don't and that 10% will always exist. Crossing Washtenaw Ave at Platt is very unsafe unless one crosses well during off peak traffic times. At a 45 mph speed, reaction times are too short for both driver and foot traffic to judge. We don't have enough police to patrol these cross areas. A separate squad would needed to fill that requirement. Be safe, think twice and wait if in doubt. I rather get home than not get home at all or detour to an emergence room. I am also very sorry to know the women involved in the crash remains in critical condition and hope she rally quickly.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:13 p.m.

With all the wacko aggressive drivers out there, it's not safe anywhere. A driver yesterday honked the horn at me at a pedestrian crosswalk. The driver made a gesture. Perhaps it was to indicate that I should walk faster.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3 p.m.

I believe it is simply foolish to put a crosswalk across 5 lanes of traffic in a 45mph zone. Unfortunately, I knew it was only a matter of time before there was a serious accident. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victim.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

I think that bike riders have to bear some of the responsibility for these accidents. When I grew up many years back, we were taught to WALK our bikes across intersections. That particular crosswalk at Platt Road is a particularly dangerous one. It may have to do with the general biking culture we have here where riders commonly ignore stop signs and red lights and zoom through. The It seems that the only people I see observing the rules are high school age or less. It's good that cars and bikes share the roads here as well as they do but rules of the road must be followed better by both.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

I said this in response to one of the earlier articles, but it bears repeating. The last time I tried to use a designated crosswalk, I watched an AA Police Car drive right by me at normal speed as I stood on the curb. There were no signs s/he was responding to an emergency (no sirens or lights), but there was also no sign s/he gave a second thought to the pedestrian waiting to cross. In fact when I saw the police vehicle approaching, I thought I had a chance since I figured it would absolutely stop. Hah! If the cops have no interest in obeying the (dangerous and absurd) law, I sure as heck won't take my chances with anyone else.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Interestingly, this morning on my way to work, I saw all four lanes of traffic stop for a pedestrian at that exact same crosswalk where the woman was hit on her bicycle the other day. It seems that it is possible for this to occur. The pedestrian crossed safely and no one was stopped for very long. Traffic wasn't even backed up and this was during rush hour. She was already half way across the street when I showed up but I timed it and this pedestrian slowed my commute by 45 seconds. It is still a bad cross walk though with poor visibility on a street with a lot of traffic and fast speeds. As a driver, I would feel better if there were a HAWK signal there.

A A Resident

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Just a few moments ago, I had to jam on the brakes to avoid a woman with two young children who stepped into a crosswalk right in front of me. Good Lord, what is this ordinance teaching people to do?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

It should teach you to be more aware and expect the unexpected while driving. Look ahead at the crosswalks instead of just focusing on the road. It used to be called defensive driving. Not to defend yourself react like everyone else is going to do something stupid. It could have been a child chasing a ball.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

I have been thinking about that very thing a lot lately. I think the main issue is that our crosswalk ordinance is unique to Ann Arbor so people from other places aren't used to watching for pedestrians. But when I drive, I go through green lights and when I do, I count on other motorists not running the red light. And when they do run red lights and hit other cars, no one blames the car going through the green and no one goes on and on about how they should have looked first even though they had the right of way [shrug]. But fwiw, the ordinance does say that pedestrians are not to enter cross walks until the traffic has stopped so this woman you describe wasn't exactly following the law either.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

The incident that occurred at the Washtenaw cross walk is a tragedy on many levels. Ann Arbors city council screwed up big time on this one. The cross walk ordinance empowers pedestrians to cross the street at will regardless of traffic conditions, for inter city areas like Main street or state with low speed limits this makes sense, however, applying this ordinance and cross walks to 4 lane major road ways with 45 mph speed limits is beyond ignorant. The incident at the Washtenaw cross walk was inevitable and will occur again due to the nature of the situation. What is the value of human life? Council will spent Millions of dollars on public art like the non functional 750,000.00 dollar water thing, it's time to evaluate priorities and install overhead cross walks at multi lane high speed limit locations, it will cost allot less than the law suits that will result from this misapplied ordinance.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.

A couple of days have gone by and still no comments or action from anyone in the city government? Hmmm. They're probably still picking the "task force".


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

As a professional driver / instructor here in AA I need to weigh in on this issue. This ordinance, although well intentioned, is a logistical deathtrap. And I fear for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. My prayers go to the woman recovering from her accident. She and her family are now forever changed. I hope and pray she recovers fully, altho that is truly an impossibility. Frankly, the ordinance desires to provide pedestrians with a safe passage across streets. But the police cannot enforce the uninformed. Meaning - we have to understand this city is an International Venue! New student inflow has already just begun. Persons from around the world routinely visit our city all year. Parents and family members visit their children. New students, transfer students, interviewees and prospective business persons, doctors and medical personnel, business seminars etc... ALL account for persons routinely drawn to this fine city - for a reason - to conduct their lives and business - and ALL of them have no concept of this ordinance merely typed on paper in the county office. This isn't mere ignorance of the law in the city that the police can pull over offenders and 'teach them a lesson'. The ordinance by its very nature is obscured from the volumes of people who come to and utilize this city for which it has earned its international dominance. If this were some Podunk city with a standard / fixed residential population that could be informed of the ordinance and enforced in that manner, well, that would be one thing. But how do you safely provide for the knowledge to the multitudes of persons visiting this city?? It cannot happen! This ordinance is truly a deathtrap. For all the reasons and more that I teach to my drivers. I have witnessed multiple near-misses and it isn't due to faulty driving. Unless they install flashers like Brighton City, it will be impossible to have drivers vigilant to a safe crossing. Period. This ordinance must be repealed immediately!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

You are correct, sir. That Washtenaw and Platt crosswalk should be removed and pedestians and cyclists should avoid crossing there. There is a traffic light 3 or 4 blocks west and then theres the Huron Parkway intersection. It may require a long walk or bike ride to get there, but it is far safer and an option I would do as a no brainer on weekday afternoon at 5:30 PM.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Yes, great point! When the law was first implemented, I was working for a large private employer in AA. They took the time to inform all employees of the law and sent out postcards both to our homes and offices describing what it meant (many eyes were rolled, I can assure you). But what happens to the guy who started the week after and commutes to AA? Or the clients coming in for a meeting? And will all employers faithfully remind all employees, clients, and visitors? I'd argue that such a non-intuitive law shouldn't be enacted anywhere, even a small, insular town, unless it's just looking for new revenue...oh wait a minute!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Yeah, let's be like Brighton. Of course it would help if we only had like 600 cars in the entire city.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.

Hire a disinterested 3rd party to perform a study on traffic & pedestrian flow at busy intersections around the city. Make the communication CLEAR for all: say it with lights. Black & white, no confusion. For busier intersections/exchanges, like 4-lane roads, with malls & businesses on both sides, put in a pedestrian bridge. From what I can see, we are all in the same community with the same general attitude. The self-absorbed & entitled driver will be equally self-absorbed & entitled as a biker & pedestrian. This is us. However, just because we're all self-absorbed doesn't mean we're out to hurt anybody. We just can't think beyond our own needs & desires. It's certainly not admirable, but it appears to be the reality we have. Therefore, make it black & white for everyone involved. Whether only 1/3 of us agree with it or not, just do it. And do it thoroughly, everywhere in town. This is already frustrating town in which to drive, since we have so few main arteries to navigate (by design & construction). Let's alleviate some pressure, stop picking at each other and come up with an actual, workable solution....and even though picking at each other online is free, I'd be happier knowing that someone I care about can walk to the store without ending up in ER or drive responsibly & confusion-free. Just sayin...

Sarah MacDonald

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

I had to ride my bike until I was 25 at CMU college since I did not have a license and learned a LOT about how drivers DO NOT LOOK. They are too busy trying to turn right on red than you being able to cross when it says to walk. I NEVER cross any street until I have the attention of the driver or I do not go. I have gone as far as tapping on their hood to get their attention it is so aggravating that they are looking left to turn right. I am not about to pull out in front of them just to have them hit me! Every time I get to a side street, I look over my shoulder to see if anyone is turning also. If they are, I wait for eye contact or stop to let them go. It is not worth my life to assume they see me. I have had great success with these rules and there has been many times I could have been hit if I did not do this. I learned to bike defensively!

Jon Wax

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

i'll stop... if there is a cop car in sight of the crosswalk. but there won't be, because the economy is all jacked up so the folks screaming for more patrol cars sitting around waiting to write a 50 dollar ticket for a cross walk infraction, how about you guys pony up the cost for that useless "enforcement"? didn't think so. if it's not a violent crime or an expensive property crime, the police don't have the manpower nor resources to screw around with it. the cops aren't here to babysit the montessori type of people. you can hire a security team for that. the pedestrians in town have downtown to themselves, the football fans would bring in WAY more money on jaywalking enforcement then any car ticketing campaign and the bike riders are fulla it because i watch them ignore every rule of the road on a daily basis. if there isn't a cop, i'm not stoppin. just the way it is. plymouth road is anywhere from 40 to 45 mph on any given day. you can go ahead and test it if you want, i'll dodge ya. it'll probably be close. but i won't ya. sorry, but i'm not stoppin. Peace


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Pedestrians crossing before traffic comes to a complete halt are indeed asking for trouble. But that is a red herring in this debate -- hardly anyone disagrees! The real issue is whether cars should halt when pedestrians are waiting at a crosswalk, after which the pedestrian can cross safely. Let's debate that issue!

Jim Walker

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.

The Michigan Uniform Traffic Code which Ann Arbor adopted says cars must stop when the pedestrian is IN the crosswalk on their half of the road. Ann Arbor's ordinance still does not conform to the UTC because it says cars must stop for a pedestrian at the curb, but not yet in the crosswalk. Fortunately the city took out the dangerous requirements for cars to stop when the pedestrian is in the OTHER half of the road and the provision requiring cars to stop when the pedestrian was APPROACHING the crosswalk. But we would be far better off if Ann Arbor got in lock step with all the state laws and regulations in the Motor Vehicle Code and the Uniform Traffic Code. Setting regulations contrary to these codes is foolish and sometimes quite dangerous. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.

Should drivers obey the City Code? Absolutely! That is not an issue. The real issue is whether or not the dangerous Crosswalk Law keeps pedestrians safe. The comments here suggest that the Law fails and causes more harm than plain old good common sense.,


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

No, the real issue is whether cars WILL halt. Certainly we can all agree that the car in this instant SHOULD HAVE halted. But as we saw, it takes more than a couple of signs, some stripes and a boatload of wishful thinking.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:46 a.m.

Good question on the numbers. We did this story right after the new ordinance: Kyle Feldscher is trying to get them this week from AAPD.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

Paula, do we know how many accidents or injuries occur at crosswalks in Ann Arbor? The Ann Arbor News used to publish periodically, if memory serves correctly, a map of where motor vehicle accidents occurred in Ann Arbor. When the data are shown, it becomes readily apparent where the problem spots are and what needs fixing. To answer your question, as a motorist, I am very uncomfortable with crosswalks on the 4 or 5 lane roads as it is very difficult to see pedestrians at times. As a pedestrian, I rarely try to cross these roads except at traffic signals.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:03 a.m.

Well said Paula


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:25 a.m.

When I took my driver's license test in California many years ago, I learned that the law requires you to stop for pedestrians on zebra crossings, and that law is enforced.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:22 a.m.

I live downtown and find crossing streets at intersections can be dangerous. A woman in the building was hit by a car making a left turn. She was in the hospital a couple of weeks and was still having to use a cane a year later. I was almost run over by a bus when the driver was stopped and looking to the left at the on-coming one-way traffic and not looking in front of the bus where I stepped. Another person in my senior housing was hit at the corner of Fifth and Liberty. He was crossing with his wheel chair and the woman turned right and hit the wheelchair and knocked him and his dog to the pavement. She was talking on her cell phone. I see many people talking on cell phones while driving downtown and I am afraid to step into the street until they are past, even if I have a green pedestrian walk sign. I think people are dumb if they assume drivers can see them. Drivers are often too excited about the phone conversations they are having.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

I am a frequent pedestrian downtown and have had many near misses. As a pedestrian, I always look before crossing the street but even so, it isn't always possible to anticipate that a driver is about to turn into the crosswalk especially if they don't have their turn signal on. I kind of knew that the new crosswalk ordinance wasn't going to do much because there already isn't enforcement of the existing laws regarding signaled crosswalks.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:54 a.m.

I drive Plymouth Road every day and have seen at least three times when a pedestrian was very nearly wiped off the face of the planet by drivers who continue to speed right through the pedestrian walks even now that there are the flashing lights. Once was a 20ish male driver was yammering on his cell phone while driving an oversiozed SUV with out of state plates. Once was a middle-ages (50ish?) woman just driving. And another was a business vehicle. There has to be something done about this. I never see any officers patroling Plymouith and nearly every day I see drivers just keep on goping even whe the lights are flashing. It really is insane.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

There is no excuse for failing to stop at a signaled crosswalk.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:45 a.m.

The remedy of course is to line all crosswalks on both sides with 10-inch thick Plexiglas®. ;-) We teach chimps to ride bicycles -and with the same optimism - we teach people to operate bicycles and motor vehicles in the same spaces. :-)


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.

The crosswalk at Washtenaw and platt is going away. MDOT will be installing a signal there very soon.


Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Any reference or link on this upate??

Doug Scott

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

As a 'former' Easterner that transplanted to the West (Los Angeles) and now lives in Ann Arbor, I found California drivers in multi-lane streets capable of stopping for pedestrians in zebra-marked crosswalks. I was never fearful of crossing very busy streets. Typically pedestrians would take a single step into the crosswalk and give drivers a little 'notice' then continued across. In the days before the cellphone this worked very well. There are issues today, however, as there are everywhere. But Michigan drivers (ok, sans cellphone) ought to be able to 'cope' with the law. There is no street in this town or county that has more traffic than Sepulveda Blvd. in LA and those drivers seem to keep track of pedestrians. Doug Scott


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

No. Even LA pedestrians are not safe. "Data on all vehicle collisions from 1994 through 2001 were obtained from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. Pedestrian collisions during this period accounted for 6 to 7 percent of all traffic accidents each year for a total of 25,685 collisions. ... An analysis of the location of pedestrian collisions showed that about 40 percent occurred in marked crosswalks at intersections."

Ron Granger

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:14 a.m.

Climbing into a vehicle does not make someone more entitled or important than anyone else. You are no more entitled to get from point A to point B than anyone else. Drivers frequently stop for traffic signals, and yet many of those same drivers suggest it is impossible that they should need to stop for someone who isn't in a car - who is walking. People, not cars, pay for the roads.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2:45 a.m.

UTTER NONSENSE! Washtenaw AVE is State Highway, which is paid for by MOTORISTS! NOT ANY OTHER taxes! NOT PROPERTY taxes! NOT!!! If pedestrians wish to get from point A to B, they can do the same thing motorists are REQUIRED to do who wish to get to the "Rec Center," which they are FORBIDDEN to do by turning left from Washtenaw onto Platt. Rather than driving straight to the center, motorists are REQUIRED to turn left onto Huron Parkway, drive to Platt, then turn right on Platt and drive virtually back to Washtenaw. If it is "unsafe" for motor vehicles to turn left into two lanes of traffic, HOW it is it ANYWAY safe for pedestrians to cross FIVE LANES thereof? If motorists have to go ALL that way out of the way, why can't pedestrians, who INSIST on walking, go SOME of that way? And if they REFUSE to walk, WHY can't they drive -- following the SAME RULES motorists MUST? By the way. Is there a limit to how much time pedestrians may take to STOP that ENTIRE HIGHWAY? WHAT is it? What about a person on crutches? A wheelchair? Five minutes? Ten? Thirty? For ONE person on a MAJOR, FIVE-lane STATE highway? Says WHO?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Drewk, it's a common misunderstanding that gasoline taxes pay for all roads. What actually happens is, federal gas taxes pay for federal roads and state gas taxes pay for state roads but city property taxes pay for city roads. There are occasional grants that send federal and/or state funds to cities (e.g. the Stadium bridge project) but they are the exception rather than the norm.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

And the people driving cars and paying gasoline taxes pay for more of the roads. You don't have to like it, but that is how it works. And what makes you think that's the least bit germane anyway? So if a pedestrian instead decides he wants to dash across I-94 we should stop for that, too? Nonsense.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:36 a.m.

Drew, your car has a credit card? People pay the road taxes. I guess if a horse was mechanized, you are correct. Way back when, there was a street car system, called the DUR, people used it in droves. Now, we use our cars in droves which make it very hard for unprotected pedestrians to cross streets and when a car hits a pedestrian, the car gets a dent and the pedestrian ends up in intensive care or worse. Why is it so hard to yield to pedestrians?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:01 a.m.

Sorry Ron. You're all wrong. Gas taxes pay for the roads and I have yet to meet someone that drinks gasoline. The original use for a road was for mechanized transportation., not pedestrians.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

Ordinarily I feel safe, but I just usually take for granted that a good percentage of the drivers are chatting away on their phones, texting, applying makeup, daydreaming, and just about everything else other than making paying attention their top priority. Plus I see drivers plow through stop signs in our residential area and parking lots regularly. In other words, I try to stay on my guard for bad, unsafe drivers.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:06 a.m.

The crosswalks are safe as long as the pedestrian doesn't go out into the road with traffic. I have no problem waiting for traffic to pass, but not everyone thinks like me and they get hurt. Also, drivers need to be more mindful of pedestrians as they approach crosswalks.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.

MCL * Any legal action against the City must be filed within 120 days of the offense. * No law giving crosswalk pedestrians unconditonal right-of-way. CIty Council could vocally "suspend" the law Monday and then quietly repeal it after the election.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Of course I feel safe! I have grown up in a country where we are made to all feel self-important and entitled, and I live in a town that obviously values my safety! Why else would they spend all of this money on crosswalks, if they didn't care? Plus, I am an Ann Arborite, which automatically qualifies me as one of the smartest people around! Now, let me cross this intersection while totally being ignorant of my surroundings in piece. Wait, I got a phone call, let me answer this text... /sarcasm


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:51 a.m.

I am sure the person hit on Washtenaw appreciates your sarcasm. I don't.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

We need more of the sidewalk bridges like the one where Huron curves into Washtenaw.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

Whether you're a biker, a pedestrian, or a motorist; pay attention and ALWAYS be on the defensive. I remember, "Stop, Look, and Listen" from my Kindergarten years. That advice still rings true, even though it's largely ignored by many because of texting, cell phoning, rapping, yakking, etc.

Captain Splat

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

Personally I can't wait to try to cross at State and Ellsworth once that roundabout goes in next year. Especially with only a couple signs to warn traffic that I might be there.

Jim Walker

Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.

Pedestrians at roundabouts have it easy and safe. They have traffic in only one direction to look for, and that traffic is coming slowly because of the configuration of the roundabout entrances. In most designs, they have a maximum of two lanes to cross at a time and a safe harbor island before crossing the lane(s) coming from the opposite direction. Roundabouts generally lower crashes by at least 50% and lower fatal ones by 70% to 90%. YES, there is a learning curve for both drivers and pedestrians, but the long results are so good that we ought to building a lot more roundabouts. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 11:39 p.m.

A police cruise didn't stop for me while I waited at a crosswalk. I couldn't believe it. Talk about leading by example.

Jim Walker

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

When the HAWK is flashing red, it is legal to proceed after stopping IF the way is clear. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

I see police cars blow through the HAWK signal on Huron all of the time. Well I guess only the FLASHING RED light.

Michigan Man

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 11:16 p.m.

I thought Ann Arbor had the smartest people in the USA living in Ann Arbor and making safe public policy?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

You thought correct. But what is your shared input here making for safe public policy?


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

When the arrogant, incompetent Ann Arbor City Council plays traffic engineer, this is what happens. An ordinance section is not much defense against a 4,000 lb car moving at 50mph. Hopefully some enterprising young attorney will find a way to hold the City as well as those who supported the ordinance personally liable for this accident. God help those who are yet to do die or be seriously injured between now and when this stupid nonsense is repealed. Pedestrians and cyclists need to cross at signal lights - period.


Tue, Aug 21, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

Oddly enough, you actually raise a point: WHY? Pedestrians have been crossing at the nearest traffic signals in AA and everywhere else for a century but suddenly that's not "good enough"? Why? You write that an extra mile is involved but that's generally wrong - this city is choked with stop lights at every intersection and where none is practical, they can build a pedestrian bridge if the demand is great enough. ..but somebody convinced these fools that it is reasonable to sacrifice safety for the convenience of WALKING LESS. Many here who complain about the driver needing to do a better job of yielding to random pedestrians waiving this stupid ordinance around are missing the point. Maybe drivers will stop most of the time but the ones who don't for whatever reason will cause this ordinance to kill and kill and kill regardless of how much smarter City Council thinks they are then other community leaders. Council needs to be held accountable for their foolishness in court and pay and pay and pay.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:59 a.m.

Forget the marked crosswalks without lights, they don't count, right? So what if I have to walk an extra mile to cross at a light. Last time I knew, it was much easier to drive a mile I'm a car than walk a mile. How hard is it to stop for a pedestrian in a car? Just press the brake when you see a pedestrian. Oh, that's right, you have to be paying attention to see the pedestrian.

Attempted Voice of Reason

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

I think the problem here is a lack of understanding on the City's part of what different roads are supposed to be. There are many types of roads, and everybody "expects" different things. 1) Freeways - very fast, constrained movements, no crossing traffic. 2) Major Roads (the Traffic Engineers call them "Arterials") - 40 mph-ish, many lanes through traffic has the right of way, all stops are signalized. 3) Medium Roads (Traffic Engineers call them "Collectors") - 30 mph-ish, 2-3 lanes, through traffic has right of way, all stops signalized or signalized or with Stop Signs. 4) Downtown Roads - 20 mph-ish, 2 lanes, heavy traffic but lots of parking, deliveries, and pedestrians. 5) Local Roads - 20 mph-ish, 2 lanes, usually not marked, pedestrians travel everywhere. Un-signalized pedestrian crosswalks can work great for (4) and (5) and might even be OK sometimes on (3), but they're as inappropriate on (2) as they are in (1). Major roads "act differently" than local roads do, and everybody except our City Council realizes this. They need to convey traffic quickly around town, and they need to be properly structured and designed to do this. Where non-intersection crosswalks are needed, they need to be signalized. Hopefully our incoming council members can see reason. Safety and known human behavior need to trump activist agendas.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

I don't normally support the state's Emergency Manager law, but will make an exception so that the City of Ann Arbor no longer has influence over traffic control issues. The rear-end accidents that occurred after the new pedestrian right-of-way law, many on Plymouth Road, were bad enough, and now there's this awful accident. It's time for a group with some basic common sense to run the show.

Lynn Liston

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

I found this interesting chart that gives the stopping distance required by trucks and cars at various speeds. A car on Washtenaw Avenue in the 45 MPH zone requires 195 feet to come to a full stop, 65 yards or more than half of a football field. If you factor in the human elements of observing the person crossing, getting your foot on the brake- add some more feet. If the street is wet or it is dark, add even more. I've suggested that we need additional marks on the roads to indicate to crossers that cars within those marks can't stop fast enough but actually, how practical would it be to expect a crosser to even see marks painted on the road 195 feet away or for drivers to notice a crosser from that far away? Perhaps we need to stop putting crosswalks in high-speed, dangerous roadways and direct walkers to the nearest traffic light or stop sign instead. and limit crosswalks to low speed, safer streets.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I have never had difficulty crossing the street. Even when I was a kid I mastered look both ways in about a day. I believe I will be fine.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

We have made crossing a busy street into rocket science.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

reading the posts it's quite clear...people will make any excuse so as not to "have to stop" because they simply don't want to! "oh...I can't read minds"...blah blah blah. Treat crosswalks like yield signs...that's what they are!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:34 a.m.

SEC Fan and its quite clear pedestrians have something against common sense!

Attempted Voice of Reason

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

SEC Fan and hjocque: You can see my full post below, but my main argument is that major roads are inherently different from local roads, and need to be designed accordingly. Any city needs major roads designed to handle large volumes of traffic quickly, and certain driver behaviors are accepted on such major roads. With that comes the obligation to ensure pedestrian safety at crossings--the design of all pedestrian crossings of major roads need to be treated with the same care and respect afforded to vehicular intersections. To do otherwise with half-baked ordinances is, in my mind, dangerous and criminal.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Yes, this entire thread has been very disheartening as a biker (sorry, I can't afford a car, I know, I am terrible). "Oh, change my behavior? Oh, I can't. Even if it helps keep people safe. People have always driven this way. It's just natural to drive in a way that endangers people who aren't in cars. It's not as though roads are constructed in a way that values cars as the only legitimate form of movement."


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:06 p.m.

Sounds like you're not really reading the posts. All that people are saying is that there are busy, fast moving roads where it isn't wise to place a crosswalk.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

How about a poll for law repeal? Generous of the city to protect our bright UM students. However, if they are so, they don't need a nanny government to help them cross the street (save the peanut gallery wisecracks). How about reducing the endless build-baby-build highrise traffic invitations instead. If need be, string a bright red led strobe light over risky crosswalks with big sigh that says STOP WHEN FLASHING.. Drivers know what a flashing red light means. Until there is a uniform state law, City Council should rescind their stupid law Monday - period.

Bob W

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

From my own observations at these crossings, the intentions of either party are to vague and indecisive and often tentative. The pedestrian , or biker, is not sure what the motorist will do and the motorist is not sure what the pedestrian will do. Some would say the motorist has only one thing he/she should do, but not so. Some pedestrians hesitate, wander about, wave you on, etc. I'd like to see some before and after data on the effectiveness of the current crosswalk arrangements.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Frankly I don't think there should be crosswalks on Washtenaw where there are not traffic lights. That street is much too busy and the traffic too fast for this.

Huron 74

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

These crosswalks without lights are a bad idea. People are accustomed to stop lights but don't look for bikes or bodies. The fact that you had the right of way and the law on your side isn't going to take away from the pain, etc of an injury. You can make all the laws you want, but common sense will overrule. I suggest people look both ways, like I always have.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

As I've written my councilman, crosswalks on roads which have posted speed limits above 30-35 mph seem dangerous. It takes so much longer/greater distance to bring two tons to a halt at 45 mph than 25 mph. On a 4/5 lane road with 45mph traffic, for safety pedestrians need to cross where there are traffic/pedestrian walkway lights.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:17 a.m.

Sadly, your Ann Arbor Council people likely don't care what you think.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:41 p.m.

Some might even assert that the placement of the crosswalk in question is an act of negligence by the city. . .


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:31 a.m.

I suggested that in the original article and got deleted. I merely suggested the courts might be busier soon.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Sounds like the round about issue as well. Some can't navigate that either.

Leslie Morris

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

It is interesting to compare the behavior of our local drivers toward pedestrians with the behavior of drivers in some other locations. During a short vacation trip to Washington state, and particularly in Seattle, I was amazed to see drivers stop every time I stepped off a curb, and very often while I was standing on the curb waiting to cross. Here, crossing Huron Parkway, about one in every 25 or thirty drivers stops while I am waiting to cross. The driver culture here does not consider pedestrians legitimate traffic. I don't think a single city is likely to be able to change this driver behavior.

David DeSimone

Sat, Aug 18, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

Trying crossing streets like Huron Pkwy or Washtenaw but in Wayne County. Or even minor streets. VERY dangerous. It blew my mind the first time I went to A2 and (at least downtown) actually saw people STOPPing for pedestrians!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:21 a.m.

You are suggesting that people in our area pay some heed to what people in an other area are doing as a matter of course: regrettably, that hasn't worked in any disputed area to date. Tens of millions of people in the U.K. and European countries "mix" bikes and motor vehicles routinely & successfully (just as those same tens of millions enjoy universal health care). But here - you almost never see this brought up. It's as if the United States were a planet unto itself - and people in all other areas were on another planet. Prepared to be "thumbed down." (But that's not to say anything about the validity of your point.)


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

"The driver culture here does not consider pedestrians legitimate traffic." I agree. This whole incident is in interesting example of people being ignorant of how culture influences their behavior, even in cars. Yes, Ann Arbor drivers currently treat pedestrians as people are not important enough to look out for and drive in ways that ignore/endanger pedestrians and bikes. This can change though. Saying "pedestrians and bikes should have common sense" should NOT be the same thing as saying "we should continue to only value and protect people driving in cars, and never try to improve pedestrian safety and bike safety." Driver behavior matters, and driver behavior can change. We learned to do the roundabouts- why not learn to stop tailgating, be alert to people outside of cars, and learn pedestrian body language the same we people learn car "language" to judge when a person is going to merge or speed up, or such?

Linda Peck

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

A crosswalk on Washtenaw at the top of the hill? No way! Who ever decided that was a good idea, I am sure they don't think so now. Much more care must be taken. The hawk seems to work on Huron now, but the first week was a bit dicey for those brave people. The hawk must be used in high traffic areas, and reducing lanes is not going to do the job, either. There should be no crosswalks on a intercity road like Washtenaw.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:15 a.m.

Well put Linda


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

I think the city of Ann Arbor is trying to get it's people killed with this pedestrian cross walk law! Unless you put flashing lights like to do on Plymouth road your life is in danger! That is the price we pay for being progressive, citizens dying in the streets!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

you'll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:28 a.m.

I am one of the few old enough to remember that. Which way did he go? Which way did he go? He went for Faygo Old Fashioned Root Beer!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

The City of Ann Arbor is incredibly irresponsible to tell pedestrians that they have the ability (right) to expect traffic to stop for them on 45 mph, 5 lane road like Washtenaw Ave. near Platt. How can our city government and "traffic engineers" be so incredibly stupid as to not understand that there is a difference between a major thoroughfare like that and lower speed roads in campus or residential areas? On Washtenaw near Platt, a driver is traveling at a higher speed with their vision spread over a much wider area and much more going on. In addition in that particular area there is a rise that westbound drivers are coming over before they would be able to someone in the crosswalk. This lack of common sense is unfortunately typical of our city's "leaders". It's not surprising that they cannot fathom the fact that this system will not SAFELY work on all roads.

Outside(:-o)looking in

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Jackson72, you are right on target. This new "law" feeds right into Ann Arbors entitlement crowd. All common sense instincts fail when some people feel entitled. No common sense was used by the safety engineers either. California has more the forty years experience with this "law" Ped Xing's are supposed to be designed as a "safe Place" for pedestrians to cross. A little research would have helped. Interesting to watch an entitled pedestrian push the button at a traffic light. Some get angry when the light doesn't immediately change. Sad...


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Unless you can show where the Ann Arbor Traffic Engineering Dept. has gone on record opposing this all-encompassing policy of pedestrians being able to cross busy thoroughfares in crosswalks at any time, then they are very much to blame. Unfortunately no one in our city traffic engineering department has the guts to tell the emperor that he has no clothes when it comes to poor policy decisions. They are gutless sheep following whatever direction the mayor and city council leads them, no matter how poor or unsafe the decisions are.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:27 a.m.

Who should we blame then?

Katherine Griswold

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Please do not blame Ann Arbor traffic engineers.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

I think that wherever people have to cross the street there should be a stop light. I see so many people that do not look-at all-to see if a vehicle is coming-including parents with young children (guess some children don't mean a whole lot to the parents) They just go into the street assuming all vehicles will stop for them. Some drivers coming at them may be drunk or drug impaired. Looks to me like that's never taken into account. I have one friend who tells me she llikes to "show her power" by walking in front of cars. without looking either way. She likes it that vehicles have to "stop just for her". Now am I supposed to feel sorry for her if she gets hit? She's a good friend , but, I will NOT feel sorry for her if something like that happens to her. IMO Ann Arbor is in a world of it's when when it comes to drivers/pederstrians - and I'm both. I've never had trouble while walking the streets of AA. Then I know I have a body that is made of flesh and blood and not metal and glass. I always take that into account.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

"I have one friend who tells me she likes to 'show her power' by walking in front of cars. without looking either way. She likes it that vehicles have to 'stop just for her'. That's what this ordinance nonsense is ALL about.

Katherine Griswold

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:06 p.m.

The local crosswalk ordinance, original version with "approaching" language and as amended, was driven by pedestrian-rights advocates and opportunistic local politicians. Transportation engineers did not advance the language. If SAFETY is our goal, then we need to request assistance from Michigan State transportation engineers. Unfortunately, politics has permeated every level of the Ann Arbor city organization.

George K

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

I walk a lot, and if I have to cross the street I always avoid these crosswalks, even if it means taking an inconvenient route. I think that they impose an unnecessary risk on pedestrians who must trust that all the drivers are alert and conscientious enough to stop. I don't need to expose myself to that risk, so I'll just find an intersection or wait until there are no cars. As a pedestrian I am not in a hurry to get anywhere, hence why I'm walking. So a few extra seconds to wait for a gap in traffic is perfectly acceptable.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.



Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

When I was very young, my mother taught me to stop, look and listen anytime I wanted to cross the street. I look left, right and left again. If a vehicle is coming, I wait for it to pass. I NEVER assume a vehicle will see me or even stop. After 60 years I have never been hit by anything and that's not a fluke.

Jim Walker

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

In almost all encounters between a vehicle and a pedestrian/cyclist, the score will end up as pedestrian/cyclist ZERO, vehicle ONE. That is simple physics, regardless of who was right or wrong. I agree with Tom Wieder and others that the pedestrian/cyclist must take extra care to avoid becoming a victim of a distracted or inattentive driver - in Ann Arbor or anywhere else in the world. An accident might well be the fault of the driver, but the pedestrian/cyclist is almost always the looser in such an encounter. Everyone hopes the lady in the incident on Washtenaw near Platt recovers, and wishes that the incident never happened. But equally, anyone familiar with the area knows this is a difficult place for pedestrians to cross because of the heavy traffic, the hill just to the east, and the prevailing speeds of traffic in the range of 40-45 mph. It can be a long wait for a sufficient break in traffic to cross safely. It is the business loop route for US-23, I-94, a major connector for surface traffic to & from Ypsilanti, plus the artery for Arborland, the Whole Foods complex, several other business areas, and soon the new center on the south side of Washtenaw where the former Oldsmobile dealer was located. It is and will remain a critical and very busy business and commuter artery for all of Ann Arbor. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Woman in Ypsilanti

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

I feel safe in signaled crosswalks but some of the others around town worry me because I know I am not visible to drivers all of the time.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

I lived in A2 for awhile but am from Wayne Co and live there now. Other than Washtenaw I always felt pretty safe crossing streets in a2. Much more dangerous Downriver and even worse in Detroit. But requiring traffic to stop where there is no light is no answer. Washtenaw has a 45MPH limit and is THE busiest county road in Washtenaw.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

Amen to that


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:49 p.m.

Comments thus far are very reassuring. I grew up in NYC - where you don't trust anybody or anything to see you and not run you over. But that doesn't stop people from jaywalking everywhere, myself included. You simply have to pay attention to what is moving around you and stay the heck out of other people's way. My technique is to simply continuously pay attention to the traffic patterns and cross (jaywalk) whenever there is a nice big break in traffic. I take full responsibility for my own safety and the legality of my actions. In 20 years of walking city streets I've never made someone slam on the brakes to avoid me.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

I agree, that's were I learned the art of crossing streets.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:18 a.m.

You ain't lying about the dog eat dog nature of walking in NYC. I love it and I miss it there, but it does toughen you up and make you a smarter pedestrian in other cities, say, like, Ann Arbor.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

When it comes to rules for pedestrian crosswalks: Follow the law of physics and live. . . Follow the Hieftje law of folly and be severely injured or killed. . .


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

Simple but brilliant!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

We could have had eight or more HAWKs instead of that dry blinky blue light thing outside city hall.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Ah, yes. The "frogger" plan. Pure "common sense" at its finest.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:23 a.m.

I'll say it again. We do NOT need any Hawks! Common Sense.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

I pick and choose. I would never cross at the one on Washtenaw and Platt. It's just a poorly placed, dangerous crosswalk. If there is a median on a street, I'll just cross when traffic clears at a spot where there is no crosswalk. That way, I get across the street and no one has to stop for me. Huron Parkway is good example.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

Its going to take a long time before people learn they are supposed to stop. It may never happen with people who don't live in or drive in Ann Arbor a lot. A flashing led powered by solar might help. Most people don't even know that it is a state law that you have to stop for someone in a crosswalk. They think it is just an Ann Arbor thing.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2 p.m.

No it is NOT "state law"! See what KJMClark wrote: "state law doesn't say you have to stop for pedestrians in mid-block crosswalks..."


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

It isn't just an A2 law - it's STATE LAW that pedestrians in the crosswalk have the right of way. When everyone becomes aware of this, we might stand a chance. I cross Ann Arbor/Main Street in Dexter virtually everyday, things aren't much better even in a small town.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.

Exactly, LXIX. It is COMMON SENSE that pedestrians yield to motorized vehicles on streets and roads, which are built and paid for by such vehicles. Does dextermom tell her kids to charge out into the street, WITHOUT looking? From the Secretary of State's PEDESTRIAN SAFETY TIPS: "BE SEEN: Avoid common traffic dangers • Wait for drivers to stop and make eye contact before crossing a street. Don't assume they see you. • Cross at a corner or marked walkway, following traffic signals."


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

Please specify the STATE LAW giving pedestrians in crosswalks absolute right-of-way. The defined right-of-way pertains to signals and their colors or signs at intersections. Crosswalks may be at intersections or elsewhere.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

How many times have you been hit? I suspect its because you LOOK before crossing. Not because the is a "STATE LAW"!

Robert Katz

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:27 p.m.

I feel very safe by using a simple system. I actually look to see if cars are coming toward me rather than rely on Ann Arbor's moronic law that requires drivers on busy streets to be concentrating on the pedestrians on either side of the street rather than the other automobiles.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

2 thumbs up for you sir!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

I got taught in kindergarten to stop look both ways, then look left again....if a car is coming, don't step into the roadway. Cross at intersections. I still follow that today 55 years later and haven't had a single problem.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:20 a.m.

I had a brain freeze. Should read wear not where!


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

jns131 Funny thing about life. The smart ones adapt to where they live not to life in another city! I would not where very much sun screen in Seattle, But I would where plenty in Miami!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

You must have that lucky cricket. Try that one in NYC. Won't work once you get caught trying to cross.

Tom Wieder

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

I agree with the two previous posters. Signs, painted lines and flashing lights will not make a pedestrian ever the "winner" in a fight with a multi-ton vehicle. The only way to be truly safe is not to cross a street on foot, unless you can get to the other side, or to a safe median, before oncoming traffic can reach you. The problem with attempting to "protect" pedestrians with these devices is that they impart, to some, a false sense of security that they will keep that vehicle from hitting you. They may help, but not enough to put any significant reliance upon them. Be patient and wait for a bigger break in the traffic flow or go to an intersection with a stop sign or traffic light. Perhaps, this seems unfair, that drivers SHOULD pay more attention and give more respect to pedestrians, but don't bet your life on it.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Tom Wieder is absolutely correct. Don't bet your life on it. You can have the right of way, and you can be "dead right." If you want to cross a street on foot as safely as possible, cross at an intersection with a light or at least a stop sign. Better yet, cross at an intersection with a flashing pedestrian sign. Even then there will be drivers that will come around a corner without paying much attention. No major city is a "walking city".


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:31 p.m.

Sometimes, as on Washtenaw and Plymouth , the closest intersection with a light is a half mile away. A pedestrian should be able to cross a street in a crosswalk without risking their lives if drivers would pay attention and stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:23 p.m.

I cross at 3rd and Huron every day with the HAWK and cars routinely blow through the red signal. Needless to say, I never go before I am sure all 4 lanes have stopped. Most of the time, the people that blow through the light have a cell phone up to their ear. The only time I almost got hit was the right lane westbound had stopped for the light and the left lane westbound ran the light. The right lane driver blew their horn, otherwise I probably would have been in the street in harms way. I think the city needs to inventory all crosswalks and start being proactive about placing HAWKS. Its a shame things like this don't get done till there is an accident.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

@ leaguebus - Um. Yes? If you want to live. Honestly, it wasn't an issue before (2000) so why is it now? Honestly, what has changed since you were in elementary school?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 4:26 a.m.

So I should wait up to 5 minutes to cross Huron during the rush hours? People do not stop for HAWK lights, do you think they will stop for a single pedestrian? Obviously someone did not stop for the lady in this story.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:16 a.m.

Hawks are NOT needed! All it takes is a little common sense and a return to what we were all taught in 1st grade. Stop, Look and Listen! How hard is that? We have too many people in this town walking around like zombies!


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

I don't feel safe around SE Michigan drivers regardless of the situation. We've never had decent education or enforcement of traffic laws that I know of.


Fri, Aug 17, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Geez Homeland, I wouldn't know about that, so I'll have to take your word for it. Actually, I have my doubts you really know anything about that either. Linda, agreed, but we *could* put up speed cameras, tailgating cameras, and red-light cameras. Oh, wait. People here won't stand for that, mostly because so many of them are speeding, tailgating, and running orange lights. My daughter just finished driver's ed, at one of the better companies in town. She was a little shocked at how easy it was and how much they didn't cover. She also wanted to drive just *under* the speed limit, which is legally what you're supposed to do, but the instructors kept telling her to go faster. That's SE Michigan driving for you.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:56 p.m.

it's hard to be humble, when you're perfect

Linda Peck

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

We don't have any cops here to do the enforcing. Or few cops is more accurate. It is a free for all. Just look at the speeding cars up and down all the roads. It is a dangerous place to drive and walk, Ann Arbor.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

By the comments, I see that I am not alone in my ability to walk across streets safety without the need for a law.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

I'm usually one of the first people to defend this city. However, in regards to traffic flow and urban design, our city has a serious issue with priorities. What matters more? getting people in, and out, of town seamlessly? Or, do we care more about allowing pedestrians to "feel safe" when they blindly walk across a street without looking both ways (what a concept!)? Don't even get me started on the obsession with bike lanes (that are mostly just stick figures painted in the middle of a normal street that can barely fit two cars with parking).


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

I feel 100% safe. I learned a fool-proof method early in life. What I do is look both ways, and make sure it is clear before crossing. Sometimes cars stop for me, but I ignore them, and wait for a natural break in traffic. This method has worked flawlessly for my 35+ years of crossing streets, in cities much larger than Ann Arbor.


Sun, Aug 19, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

EXACTLY, Mike! And thanks for your GREAT post! I REFUSE to move -- until the motor vehicle abides by State Law and moves on, so that I can SAFELY cross the street. And what I see is pedestrians doing EXACTLY the same thing -- YIELDING to motor vehicles to pass, which is State Law, not to mention Common Sense. WHAT good does it do to be "right"and dead, especially when "law" is wrong, as are you?


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:46 a.m.

That's pretty much it. I don't want to step out to cross, and get hit by the driver passing you on the left. My system works pretty well, I have 100% success rate.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

So if I stop for you like the law says I have to, you just ignore me while I'm stopped in the middle of the road waiting for you to cross...yet I get a ticket if I don't


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.

Craig, you have gotten it exactly right. All it takes is a moment's looking away for even a very observant driver and a ton of metal(or more) will smash into one. And at the night time, it is a joke to think that a driver will see you. Crosswalks at a busy road like Washtenaw are inherently unsafe. Either cross very cautiously or go to a light.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

I feel safe using Ann Arbor cross walks because I pay attention to traffic, I never assume a driver will see me and I wait until there is a sufficient break in traffic to cross safely. I have never had trouble walking to where I wanted to be.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

I feel safe absolutely.....because...... I never assume I have the right of way. I always assume every motorist does NOT SEE ME and I act accordingly. I NEVER EVER NEVER cross a street when traffic is such that a car would have to slow down not to hit me. So far so good after working the concept for 45-50 years.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 11:13 p.m.

Here-here! Glad to see so many people "get it."


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 5:56 p.m.

Craig, well stated.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:48 p.m.

I wished I had posted my comments soon after yours, oh well, I too am a living example of using caution as well as common sense.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

Absolutely great response. Everyone should read and abide by your crossing philosophy.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

I agree Craig... patience and common sense for safety always prevail. I don't trust drivers on the road, I refuse to ride my bike on the streets of Ann Arbor.


Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 12:10 a.m.

If only pedestrians would heed the advice of Craig and GoNavy there would not be pedestrians and drivers suffering through the agony of an accident.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

Sounds like true UM former student to me. Crossing the streets in true UM fashion. Sounds like Mulans grandmother with her cricket. Good luck to those crossing Ann Arbors streets.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Voted up! Amen, safety when crossing a street is up to the pedestrian. To blindly walk across in a cross walk because "the law" should be on your side is ridiculous.

Atlas Shrugged

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

You said it all, sir. Never assume anything. One can make all the laws in the world about pedestrian rights and all that stuff, but if we pedestrians (and I guess, from what I read, that includes bicyclists) don't use some common sense, our powers of observation, and extra but necessary caution, we may well suffer some nasty consequences. That said, my heart goes out to the woman who was hit by a car, and to her family... and to the driver who struck her.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

Mr. Lounsbury has said it best: There's nothing to fear from our crosswalks when we combine knowledge of the law with common sense. "Right of way" is a poor medical treatment for injuries sustained colliding with a car. "Right of way" will also, 100 times out of 100, fail to stop a mass greater than (or equal to) that of your own by a factor of close to 20. "Right of way" does not make an inattentive driver suddenly attentive (though contact with your body probably will).

Lemmy Caution

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

When the police start ticketing drivers who blow through crosswalks (while pedestrians and bicyclists are standing there waiting to cross) that will help change behavior. I remember how I learned to slow down on Washtenaw: by watching the police pull over speeders time and time again. It worked for me. People break the law all the time, of course, but some traffic problems can be solved by the police. Plus it's a great money-raiser for the police, as those pesky and highly-policed parking meters are for the city....

Jim Walker

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.

In the 3 year studies before/after the posted limits on Washtenaw were changed from 30 & 35 to 40 & 45, the accidents for the whole segment under that Traffic Control Order (which extends beyond the changed areas) went down. The 85th percentile speeds of 40 and 47 remained exactly the same, not faster - not slower. Much of what people believe about posted speed limits is simply not true. To read more, download the Michigan State Police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" at It is the clearest of several state publications about how and why 85th percentile speed limits work the best and artificially low arbitrary ones don't work properly. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Jeff Punch

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 10:16 a.m.

It is intuitive that enforcement would change things, but the data says otherwise. It turns out that speed limits on low to medium speed roads have little effect on traffic speed. This is why speed limits were increased between Hill and Stadium on Washtenaw a few years ago. On a five lane road with good visibility and moderate traffic, around 85% of people will drive within 5 mph of a speed that is not determined by the number on the sign, and that speed is about 45mph. I'm in favor of removing crosswalks that are not at intersections on such roads. Or, if there is a real need, then there should be a light to stop traffic activated by the crossing pedestrians. As far as the idea of speed limit enforcement being a good revenue stream, I disagree as well. Yes, people driving in an unsafe way should receive citations. But giving tickets for something that is commonly done simply turns the police and the populace against each other. I also think the state law regarding bicycles needs to be clarified. It seems to me that if they are being ridden (not walked) they should be subject to the rules of the road. Bicyclists zooming through crosswalks and expecting traffic to wait seems crazy.

Stuart Brown

Thu, Aug 16, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

More police enforcement will probably not make the crosswalks any more or less safe than they already are. Almost nobody driving a vehicle wants to hit a pedestrian so why would the random chance of getting a ticket offer significantly more deterrence than what is inherent to the situation already? The old way was much safer: pedestrians should watch for vehicles and cross when it is safe. Sounds boring and pro-motorized vehicle but it is also the safest way to handle the mix of vehicles and pedestrians in crosswalks.

Lemmy Caution

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Umm, I think my point was misunderstood. Of course pedestrians need to watch out for law-breaking drivers who blow through crosswalks while pedestrians are waiting to cross or in the crosswalk. Duh. It's just hunters needing to watch out for other hunters' shots even though shooting people by mistake is illegal. I think our parents all taught us this. My point was that traffic behavior ON THE DRIVER'S PART can be changed to a great extent through enforcement. I was talking about changing driver behavior. Most of us wait at red lights when there's no oncoming traffic visible because we have been habituated to such behavior. And that's even when there's no camera there taking pictures and sending tickets in the mail (as happens on the turnpike). Social life is about having certain laws and expectations become habitual and "second nature." And still of course pedestrians will never win in a physical confrontation with a car or truck. That fact isn't second nature; it's first nature.

Amanda Zee

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I should add that I think this law is really a dumb idea, but it's the law, so I follow it. Good old common sense and looking both ways has worked for me ever since I was old enough to cross the street. But with a law like this, people assume that drivers will stop, and that is obviously not the case.

Amanda Zee

Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

I watched a police cruiser sail through a crosswalk with a pedestrian waiting to cross on the same side of the street, while I was stopped on the opposite side of them. This was over on the North side between the School of Art and the VA Hospital. I drive that route every day after work and I am the only one who ever stops for pedestrians. And when I do, the drivers behind me honk their horn. The whole thing is so disheartening.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

What does it even mean to see somebody standing near a crosswalk while traveling at 35 mph? I can be expected to react to actions, but I cannot attest to "intent." Somebody near a crosswalk might be checking their phone, taking a picture, taking in the sights. I'm not going to stop my car for anybody's "intentions." On the other hand, if I see somebody begin to enter a crosswalk, then by all means I'll stop. That is, if I can - which puts some of the responsibility on the pedestrian. In other words, would you step in front of a car traveling 35MPH based on the rights that the law affords you? The law won't change the properties of physics, and if a car cannot stop in 10 feet, it will not stop in 10 feet.


Wed, Aug 15, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

I too had to learn to slow down while driving, but a person's body vs a moving vehicle. The odds are not in your favor and all the tickets and money in the world will not change that. I hope people realize that your right as a pedestrian at these crosswalks is not worth your life. There dangerous and any crosswalks should come with a traffic light.