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Posted on Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Lack of standardized signs part of pedestrian crossing problems

By Letters to the Editor

I have been following the Plymouth Road pedestrian crossing activities during the past few weeks and think that some of the actions are missing the mark.

I have not seen any proposed action against the motorists who seem blind when it comes to the pedestrian warnings. I suggest that they be sent back to driver's education, where it should be pointed out to them what the stopping distances are at various speeds. All of the motorists’ complaints simply involve drivers following too closely. Why haven't they learned how far it takes to stop at various speeds?

The desire of Eli Cooper, city transportation manager, to "educate the community" should be "educate the drivers who have no comprehension of the consequences of following too closely."

Personally, I do not have any problem with accommodating pedestrians, nor do I think that the ordinance is problematic.

However, I think that the real problem lies with the traffic and transportation organization represented by Patrick Cawley, city engineer, and Mr. Cooper.

There is no standard signage for pedestrian crossings in the city. This is obvious when driving in various locations. Look around at the signs while driving.

For example, look at the pedestrian crossing sign in front of the hospital near the ambulance entrance. The sign is clear, visible, and cannot be missed.

Next, take a jaunt along Stadium Boulevard. There are several pedestrian crossings with islands in the middle of Stadium. The only reference to "pedestrians" is a hardly visible round circular sign on the island about 8" in diameter.

Continue on Stadium, and the crossing signs vary as you near Pioneer High School. Travel down Oakwood and the signs are different.

If the Traffic Department has any pedestrian crossing signs standards, it is not evident. The problem that this creates is that drivers do not see any pedestrian crossing signage consistency, and more accidents are bound to happen.

Of course there are occasional configurations of roadway where additional measures such as the overhead warnings on Plymouth would be required.

("No turn on red" signs also need standardizing. Many intersections have "no turn on red" only on signposts, while others have the sign where it is the most obvious and the most needed: adjacent to the lights. Some are in both locations. This haphazard situation is as annoying as the pedestrian crossing situation.)

Good luck on your "tweaking" activities.

Arno C. Buhrer, Ann Arbor


Jim Walker

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

Non-uniform traffic laws and non-uniform traffic signs are &quot;an engraved invitation&quot; to non-compliance and/or more accidents. Ann Arbor offends on both counts, as several comments have stated. The city should be using ONLY the pedestrian ordinance in the Uniform Traffic Code which has been a part of our municipal code for some time now, AND a uniform set of signs that conform the MMUTCD. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, <a href="," rel='nofollow'>,</a> Ann Arbor, MI


Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 3:55 a.m.

I'm not sure that some folks in Ann Arbor realize it, but, while we certainly do have a very special town we do not live on an island with a moat around it. Thousands of people a day drive into and out of Ann Arbor, most of whom do not live here. Many of the them enter through the Plymouth Road corridor. The creation of traffic laws, especially those that involve the regulation of traffic flow that may have life or death implications, cannot effectively be legislated or enforced on a local/city level. The reason is quite straightforward--you can't expect to &quot;educate&quot; the rest of the drivers in Michigan about a traffic regulation that is specific only to Ann Arbor. It can't possibly work. And it is for practical purposes unenforceable. Most importantly it is dangerous. In systems that are prone to human error such as driving/traffic regulation the introduction of unexpected variation predictably produces dangerous outcomes--in this case the outcomes will be accidents, injuries, and potential loss of life. This has been proven over and over again in other areas such as air traffic control or medical care systems. It is unclear to me as to why we think that somehow we are the exception to this rule. In Colorado they have a statewide law that all vehicles must yield to pedestrians at marked crosswalks. Everyone there knows this and the law is strictly enforced by the police there no matter what town you are in. Both drivers and pedestrians benefit from this law and know they will change places depending upon the day. It works. The solution here is a statewide law bolstered by statewide education both for new and existing drivers. It will take a few years for everyone to adjust but they eventually will do so. Short of that, the only realistic solution is to either put a traffic light or a pedestrian bridge at points that are clearly identified as conflicts between traffic flow and pedestrian safety. The present law will not work.

Left is Right

Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

Moreover, there's greater sanity in crosswalk placement and marking uniformity in CO in contrast to AA.

Michael Christie

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

Look to Boulder, CO for a good, well lit, standardized sign for crosswalks. Obeying crosswalks are also a State law, which Michigan does not have.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Boulder this, Boulder that... Boulder, Boulder, Boulder.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 4:56 a.m.

More signs is not the issue. I don't care how big a strobe light you could have a sign the size of the Michigan Stadium scoreboard, but if the pedestrians in the &quot;smartest city in the U.S.&quot; don't look both ways before crossing the street and use common sense, then accidents can and will happen. Maybe the pedestrians and bicyclists are the ones who need to go to walking/biking school. Wait...there isn't such a thing, it is assumed that normal human beings can do these without training! Back to the proverbial drawing board, or in Ann Arbor's case, time to hire more consultants to start another five-figure study...


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

IMO lack of common sense is the majority of the problem. Only in Ann Arbor can you find a municipality making laws that go the exact opposite of state law so that pretty much nobody understands it. And then instead of reversing it when it doesn't work, the city spends another $80k to further confuse the issue. Brilliant.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

TonnyJ said it the best


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

and again I ask&quot; where in this equation do pedestrians have any responsibility?&quot; As kids we always were taught that it was up to us to cross where we were suppose to and yield to the cars. NOT just step out ..ever seen a ped. getting a moving violation for not crossing right?.. maybe we need a way to punish them.. if they have a license they get points and a fine too.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 12:54 a.m.

&quot;All of the motorists' complaints simply involve drivers following too closely. Why haven't they learned how far it takes to stop at various speeds?&quot; -------- Mr. Arno: I think that you are mistaken here. Most of the complaints I have read have been about people not wanting to get rear-ended. I don't remember reading any that actually said &quot;I follow too closely and will likely rear-end someone if they stop suddenly.&quot; This is a very important difference. I do not tailgate. I do follow the driving laws, common sense (sorry about that one, but I can't help it), and common courtesy. I AM THE ONE I DON'T WANT SOMEONE TO HIT! I don't need to be reeducated. I don't need to learn about signs. I just don't want to stop for a pedestrian (who may have walked out suddenly into traffic, requiring me to hit the brakes) and get rear-ended. I don't want to get hit in the rear and thrown forward into a pedestrian. I don't want to get hit in the rear and suffer back and neck injuries, etc. I don't want to go to the hospital for x-rays. I don't want to have my car towed to a repair shop. I don't want to find alternate transportation home and everywhere else until my car is repaired. I don't want to have to miss work. I don't want to have to take my car back a couple of times and insist that they fix it right. I don't want any of this to happen to me. So will you--and all the others who keep saying we don't want to run into someone who stops suddenly in front of us--please stop it and recognize that good, safe drivers just want some sort of intelligent traffic controls that will prevent, so far as is possible, situations where pedestrians can cause us to get nailed from behind?! C'mon. Many of the pedestrians in this town are nuts. Many of the drivers in this town are nuts. Many of the bicyclists in this town are nuts. And yet, many of us who try to pay attention and be safe when we walk and jog and bike and drive in this town would just like to be left alone to


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

Wow BBS, I literally stood up and started clapping. You are a totally realistic based person. No left, no right, just straight forward logical based thinking. Thank You!

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 12:58 a.m.

And yet, many of us who try to pay attention and be safe when we walk and jog and bike and drive in this town would just like to be left alone to survive and lead our lives without a lot of traffic stupidity.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

The ordinance is horrible through and through. Throw it in the trash and start over.

Ben Connor Barrie

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:15 p.m.

Well said Arno. I agree wholeheartedly with your point about driver's responsibility to maintain a safe following distance. It seems like the alleged rash of rear-end collisions that have been &quot;caused&quot; by this ordinance are really the result of drivers failing to maintain a safe following distance.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

peds should be required to extend arm +point if not yet in crosswalk.VOTE TYRANTS OUT!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

i meant point across street indicating their direction of movement,think of it as a human turn signal.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 12:37 a.m.

These days, pointing at a driver could be taken as a personal challenge and result in road rage and maybe a shooting. Be careful with whom you make eye contact and at whom you point.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Any law that mandates drivers to take their eyes off the road to look at things way off to the side is idiotic and dangerous. I am afraid to stop for peds on Plymouth. I don't want to get rear ended.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Jake C: Speed limit and street name signs aren't found on the opposite side of a 4-lane road, are they?

Jake C

Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 12:48 a.m.

Are things like Speed Limit and Street Name signs &quot;idiotic and dangerous&quot; in your opinion? Because those are usually just as &quot;way off to the side&quot; as pedestrian crosswalk signs.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

You are so full of excuses. Or did you not read that the law has been modified to correct for this problem.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Well spoken, though I would take it a step further and say that signage need not only be consistent within the city, but intuitive, obvious, and consistent across borders. The diamond often used for example, this shape means be prepared to yield for emergencies or caution, not yield to legal right of way. This is in line with State laws, which commands drivers to yield to pedestrians in the roadway. It is probably vague and debatable, but State law does not appear to grant pedestrians proper right of way, no more than it grants falling rocks or deer and elk full right of way. Rather, it requires drivers to remain cautious and bear the responsibility to yield for safety, not for rights. To any experienced driver, this is what the yellow diamond shaped signs intuitively says - remain cautious, and be prepared to stop out of necessity and safety. If you are actually supposed to yield to right of way, there's a red and white inverted triangle sign for that. Even consistency within the city limits is lacking, as you point out. Some pedestrian caution signs are right at the crosswalks, sometimes they are dozens of yards in advance, and from the driver's seat you can't often see where the crosswalks actually are. Some places have hardly visible signs which would require a full-time copilot to watch out for while the driver is processing all the data their sensed collect. Some crosswalk islands have weeds so high and signage actually blocking the pedestrian's position so much that they can be incredibly camouflaged, even while you're actively looking right at them (like heading west on Liberty between 7th and Stadium). I could go on - there are dozens of other ways in which this rule does more harm than good, but it seems to be falling on deaf ears with the city. I just can't believe anyone responsible for creating laws can be so obtuse.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 3 a.m.

Well, they are actually supposed to follow the Michigan manual of uniform traffic codes. Unless, they've changed the laws somewhere, any sign that is not white with a black border is only advisory. All the ped signs are mostly advisory, state law says you will yield the right of way to a ped IN the crosswalk, not walking up to it. This ordinance so supersedes state law. For a city that reveres weed as a 35 fine and makes Ann Arbor a declared safe haven for illegal immigrants, they really went all medieval on the pedestrian law. Next vote will be to make it a felony and 2 year license revocation for not being able to read the minds of pedestrians walking on the sidewalk. Kudos Council and Mayor.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

No sign on the face of this planet could ever correct for this unbelievably idiotic law. Fix it or pack your bags -- we are voting you out city council!


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

This will never happen. The majority of Ann Arbor voters love the mayor and city council, as well as support to all of their actions.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

To some, the signage in AA is beyond confusing, leading one to &quot;interpret&quot; their meaning. Not just the pedestrian type either. One example is the differently worded &quot;no left turn&quot; vs &quot;turn right only&quot; yet they have the same apparent meaning. Don't even get me going on the biggest mistake in Ann Arbor...the &quot;round about&quot;!! As to the notion above to &quot;re-train&quot; drivers...I would counter with this...hundreds of thousands of cars on the road, as compared to what, a few thousand pedestrians. I would say the pedestrians need to be &quot;re-trained&quot; in self preservation...and that should include bicyclists as well!!! I will use the well worn phrases that apply well here....&quot;There's right, and dead right&quot;...&quot;The needs of the many, outweigh the needs of the few&quot; the end of the day it's still the same deal....When it comes to motorized driving, or bicycling, or walking...being safe is more important than being right. And in today's driving environment in Ann Arbor, being "in the right" does not always mean you will see another sunrise!! LOOK OUT FOR THE OTHER GUY!!


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

Grimmk, it is not I who has the problem, I zip right through...when not blocked by the daily accident, confused drivers, or light pole laying in the street knocked down by the busses that don't fit in the micro sized round-about!


Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Nephilim you got it! I was nailed years ago three days after they put it up. Contested in court and the judge said &quot;we can't make signs to accommodate everyone&quot; today, it seems that's exactly what they're doing!!

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Tue, Dec 27, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.

gotta love packard+arch they hide on (white street)maybe?any way when the perp breaks the traffic law there is no line of sight but they can see eastbound cars on packard+if they didnt see you YOUR BUSTED,SURPRISE,HAPPY HOLIDAYS.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

I'm sorry you are having so much trouble with round-a-bouts. But they are very simple to understand. If you are in the circle you have the right away. Entering you slow down and yield or stop if someone is coming towards you. So simple. No turn signals needed. And you don't have to stop if no one is in the round-a-bout. Less traffic backing up.


Mon, Dec 26, 2011 : 2:51 a.m.

Let me guess.......Packard and Arch?


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 11:04 p.m.

Yes Cornelius, I know, found out the hard way, I misinterpreted the turn right only sign to mean I could still go straight...duh stupid me! (And makes my point)

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 8:17 p.m.

no left turn means you can drive straight.right turn only means ANY other manuvre will earn you those fatal POINTS.


Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

Mr. Buhrer - Thank you. I can only hope the City Council takes the time to read and reflect on this article.

Eric S

Sun, Dec 25, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

Huzzah! Well said.