Ann Arbor's new crosswalk law requires motorists to be mind-readers
Although much attention has been paid recently to dangers resulting from the new pedestrian safety ordinance, there has not been enough focus on the new signs that have appeared near pedestrian crosswalks. They read: "LOCAL LAW: STOP FOR PEDESTRIAN [icon] WITHIN CROSSWALK." Presumably those signs were placed with the intention of advising motorists of the ordinance. Unfortunately, they are much more misleading than they are enlightening.
The city ordinance requires drivers to stop, not only for pedestrians who are within a crosswalk, but also for those who are approaching one with the intention of crossing the street. But rather than capturing that requirement, the new signs only depict what has long been Michigan law; namely, requiring drivers to stop and yield to pedestrians already in the intersection.
Although the ordinance has received a fair amount of local publicity, motorists who come from out of town cannot reasonably be expected to know that local law differs from state law. Consequently, visiting drivers could find themselves complying fully with what the new signs indicate, yet still receive a traffic citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian who has not entered the crosswalk. That unreasonable outcome might boost the city's coffers, but is unlikely to improve the City of Ann Arbor's reputation for hospitality.
In order to make the signage more accurate, I suggest that the pedestrian icon be accompanied by a thought bubble depicting an intention to step off the curb. That might bring an additional benefit of opening up a local job market for trainers in mind reading.
Charles E. M. Dunlop