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Posted on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Sidewalk ban not the only bike-related issue city should consider

By Letters to the Editor

Sunday's article on the issue of bicycles on sidewalks omitted discussion of one important issue: cyclists on sidewalks running through intersections.

On two occasions in recent years, I have narrowly missed colliding with cycle riders coming off sidewalks and straight into the intersection into which I was turning. In one case, the rider made no attempt to stop at the intersection. Only pure luck kept me from hitting him.

I have read of research showing that sidewalk collisions top the list of all bicycle accidents. In any city council debate on this issue, one would hope that such studies be consulted.

Peter Bertocci

Ann Arbor



Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:19 a.m.

" important issue: cyclists on sidewalks running through intersections." Important issue? Really? Important to whom? I suppose it's an important issue (meaning worthy of posting a gripe) if one happens to object to the ONE SECOND it takes to actually LOOK before wielding one's own 2000 pound vehicle in the direction of A CROSSWALK. Gripe Queens live in their self-constructed fantasy world where anything which requires even ONE SECOND of their attention is too much to bear. Then they always go Ban-O-Manic on the object of their annoyance. Get real: there are plenty of oblivious cyclists but they are a small minority "out there" on streets and/or sidewalks. I've seen cyclists who are known for their faithful adherence to ALL the rules of the road and travel - who also ended up with massive injuries caused by inattentive, careless and even ruthless people using motor vehicles to get from here to there. Summary conclusion: people in this country are mostly careless, oblivious and unconcerned with anything outside their immediate self interest. This accounts for the high percentage of Gripe Queens in our population. "Only pure luck kept me from hitting him." - a true statement to be sure. It's lucky for any inattentive or incompetent operating a mobile machine beyond their capabilities when they SOMEHOW avoid hitting a vulnerable human target who should be in their sight and awareness as a matter of course. "I have read of research showing that sidewalk collisions top the list of all bicycle accidents." -- well, yeah, when you try to mix bicycle travel with pedestrians who wander about with cell phones and iPods holding their attention, there's gonna be a some minor accidents causing minor injuries to some parties. Maybe the message should be: Wake the hell up!! I'm sure there's a study showing that the major complaints from pedestrians about cyclists on the sidewalks are that they got startled out of th

Bill Wilson

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

As a quick aside, does anyone know what became of that guy (his name was Eric, I believe) who was angry about the bike laws, so he spent his time circling the mayor's house?

Tex Treeder

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 11:20 a.m.

What we really need are laws requiring that cars are the only things that use roads, bikes are the only things that use bike paths, and pedestrians are the only ones that use sidewalks. We must mandate this rigid segregation because we know it is for our own good. There must never be any place where these different modes of transportation overlap because they are obviously completely incompatible and yet must all be held to the same standards and restrictions. Perhaps we also need to require bike and pedestrian licenses so that cyclists and walkers are certified by the state for their own safety. Anything that is not mandatory is forbidden!


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:41 p.m.

I've come up with this vehicular article comment generator since most of the comments on these articles seem to follow pretty much the same format. It should save everyone some time ... I'm a (choose one: driver, cyclist, pedestrian) and I think that "many" people using the other two forms of transportation are inattentive, insensitive, rude, inconsiderate, rule-ignoring buffoons that should be banished from the (choose two: street, bike lane, sidewalk). I come to this conclusion based upon the time that a (choose one: driver, cyclist, pedestrian) almost ran into me.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

Where is the box that says "I use more than one of these modes of transport in Ann Arbor and I consider all drivers, riders, and pedestrians to be nuts and to have a strong death wish." ?


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:19 a.m.

Oetime I was riding on the path along the river from gallup to riverside park north of the of the arb at night witout a light and i ran into a tree that had fallen across the path anf went head over heels across my handlebars. I cursed the tree out for its actions while my buddies laughed hysterically


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

riding a bike can be dangerous after eating a pan full of brownies


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

Motorcyclists have a specific set of rules. Cars have a specific set of rules. Pedestrians have a specific set of rules. But a bicyclist can be a pedestrian or a vehicle, depending on the convenience of the situation. A2 should give them a specific set of rules. When in a crosswalk a bicyclist should have to walk their bike across the street. That's the rule all over Europe. A bicyclist should not be able to pass between lines of traffic, as is currently the law for motorcycles. They should not be able to pass between the curb and a car waiting in traffic. As a side note, at 6:25pm earlier this evening as I was driving on Eisenhower just east of South Main, the police and a fire truck had traffic stopped in the westbound lane. It appeared as if someone had been hit in the pedestrian crossing. A person was sitting up in the street and was being attended to. I don't know if he was a bicylist or a pedestrian, but I believe he was hit by a car.

Tex Treeder

Mon, Sep 24, 2012 : 6:58 p.m.

We should drive on the left side of the road. That's the rule in Britain. Obviously that's not true. But the logic is the same as what you're using. Just because it's a rule in one place doesn't make it a good rule.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:28 p.m.

Many incidents happen in the area which never get reported here. I am not blaming this site, but it gives a skewed impression about what actually goes on. I'm talking about assaults, home "invasions", accidents, thefts, etc. Your person "sitting up in the street" is a good example.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

It really should be illegal for someone to ride a bike through a crosswalk. You should have to walk your bike across any crosswalk. I, too, have almost nailed a biker speeding down the sidewalk into an intersection when I was making a right turn. The biker was hidden by a UPS truck parked on the sidewalk and I barely stopped in time. The biker had the nerve to glare at me like it was my fault. He was probably right, I should have used my x-ray vision to see him speeding at 20mph on the sidewalk, through a UPS truck, and yielded to him way before he sped through the intersection. At some point we have to make a decision to treat bikers as vehicles or pedestrians but it gets really confusing when they're vehicles that we have to treat like pedestrians that can walk 20 mph.


Fri, Sep 28, 2012 : 7:35 a.m.

A far better solution based on actual statistics would be for all drivers to push their vehicles through crosswalks and when making right turns. Much, much safer, if safe behaviors is the standard. And FYI: you're actually talking about cyclists, not "bikers." But it was clear from your post you don't care to know what you're talking about. Thank you, your post was spread out on the Internet and provoked the best laugh track of all time.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.

Cars routinely pull through crosswalks even when pedestrians are in them. Saw it just the other day at Liberty and Seventh, despite the new sign. Driver turned left from NB 7th to WB Liberty despite pedestrian being halfway through the crosswalk, close enough that the pedestrian could bang on the car's trunk. You are driving a 2,000 pound machine capable of killing pedestrians and bicyclists. Don't pull through a crosswalk unless it's completely clear, even if that means slowing down to doublecheck both directions first.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

Yes, but there is no need for more measures of any sort, if you're talking about roadways, not sidewalks - cyclists are supposed to follow the rules of the road, so in theory, the Ann Arbor Police are missing a possible cash cow, not hauling in errant cyclists left and right for their many traffic transgressions. Sidewalks are a separate issue.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:54 a.m.

spoiled kids who vandalized property in theory should have parents that teach them better


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:19 a.m.

For over 20 years I have been attending the Art Fair, and for the first time this past summer, I encountered many bicyclists riding very aggressively through the crowded sidewalks and down the central walking areas on blocked off streets packed with pedestrians, including children. I was stunned to see this kind of dangerous behavior by many bicyclists during the Art Fair.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:13 a.m.

Absolutely correct. Bicyclists frequently zoom through intersections without looking in any direction, and I've nearly had a collision on a number of occasions. They apparently feel entitled, do not want to slow down, and do not believe they need to obey the same rules of the road as automobiles. They are mistaken and injury or worse may result from this arrogant behavior.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 11:37 p.m.

It is very simple: the point of traffic laws of predictability, so that drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists all know what to expect in a given situation. For some reason, many, but not all cyclists seem to think that no rules pertain to them and this is the cause of many accidents and much unnecessary friction. If cyclists were to obey the same rules as car drivers, things would be simpler and safer. There will always be mistakes or willful neglect of rules, that is human nature, but on the whole, everyone would be better off.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 11:31 p.m.

Anecdotal near-miss story #6,593. Sure, let's make some new laws based on that.

Basic Bob

Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:02 a.m.

Or we could just follow the ones we have.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:47 a.m.

Isn't that SOP for Ann Arbor City Council? Isn't that how we ended up with the crosswalk law?


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 11:07 p.m.

Insert story complaining about cyclists: ___________________________________.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 10:56 p.m.

Cyclists: survival of the fittest. If a car doesn't see you, you are down. Period. Make sure they see you before you cross. Same for pedestrians. It's similar to the comments on the locking of doors. "I shouldn't have to lock my doors, so I won't." If you want to survive, use your brain. If you don't, well, bye bye.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 10:48 p.m.

This is a very relevant point. Many of the comments on this website seem to come from those who are primarily drivers, but even as a cyclist, I think this needs to be a major component of the discussion. It's true that cyclists are technically legal in a sidewalk and crosswalk, and may expect autos to wait for them when moving through intersections in that fashion. But it's so hard at times to see fast-moving cyclists when they're not on the road. Right-of-way is one thing; right-of-weight is another.

A2 citizen

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

The behavior of cyclists is unpredictable to drivers. The behavior of drivers is also unpredictable to cyclists. For example: I was biking down William a few days ago when a guy in a parked car opened his door right in my path. I skidded to a stop before getting "doored." I asked the guy if he would please check check his sideview mirror for bikes before opening his door. And he actually responded by yelling at me, saying that I should anticipate his door opening because "I could see him better than he could see me." Honestly, I did not know what to say. It would just be so easy for him to glance in his sideview mirror in order to avoid really seriously hurting people -- it pains me to think that he was not at all moved by this thought. It is incredible to me that A2 can have such backwards and hostile driver-cyclist relationships when so many other aspects of the town are urbane and forward-looking. It would be a relief if cyclists and drivers could call a "truce" and try to care more about each other's nerves and safety, both when that caring is legally required and also when it is simply the right thing to do.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 3:12 a.m.

Mick52, we are different. Notice the space he has between "A2" & "citizen". The deleted comment above my 10:10pm post was meant to make aware of the situation but apparently they do not like sarcasm. Violates the guidelines, somehow. There may be a Mick 52, an Atticus F and a Treetowncartel coming your way.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:27 a.m.

Ok are you two A2citizens the same person or two people? Top A2 cit: I think you have the responsibility to make sure you are riding beyond the reach of car door or carefully view driver seats if you are riding along parked cars. You can't expect a person to check for you in a rear view mirror because the mirror may not pick you up anyway. I got doored once and since I ride well away from door reach and I am not interfering with traffic behind me. Next A2 cit, I agree and disagree. In the long run it is better to be unharmed than right so defensive driving on a bike is a must. But streets are designed for any vehicle using it including bikes.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:10 a.m.

Roads weren't designed and built for bikes. They were designed and built for motor vehicles. If you want to be safe riding a bike in a street then you will need to become a defensive rider and be more aware of your surroundings.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Yesterday I saw someone jogging in the bike lane. There was a perfectly good and empty sidewalk. But he wanted to run in the street for some reason. I hope he has good reflexes.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.

Apologies. Whatever the road is made of is easier on the joints than whatever the sidewalk is made of.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

@nuseph, you said: The reason is that the concrete road is easier on the joints than the cement sidewalk. by your statement I am I to believe that the sidewalk is cement and the road is concrete. That goes against the whole notion that cement is an ingrediant of concrete, you can't make a sidewalk from cement and you can't make a road without it. I mean really. my guess is that runners like the even surface of (most) roads as opposed to a sidewalk, but please, the idea that they are made from cement OR concrete is impossible, the roads are usually made from concrete and then a topped of with layers of an asphalt concrete mix(rolled out) and then sealed with an asphalt sealent (sprayed on), maybe that creates some sort of "buoyancy" for less stress on a joggers joints. Sidewalks, made with concrete don't need asphalt because they obviously don't get as much wear as a road does.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:29 a.m.

The reason is that the concrete road is easier on the joints than the cement sidewalk. Drivers are generally trying to do the right thing and avoid accidents. But some pedestrians and cyclists don't return the favor by trying to make sure they're visible and giving drivers a chance to react to their presence. Instead, some whiz by within inches of a moving vehicle, move between cars stopped in traffic/at lights, etc. Obviously drivers need to be vigilant no matter what, but a little help would be nice.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 1:15 a.m.

What about the people who jog or walk in the street where there is no bike lane but there is a sidewalk.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 12:15 a.m.

I've also seen people walking during the evening (after dark) in the bike lane, not on the sidewalk. Very dangerous and impossible to see these individuals who often wear dark clothing.

Atticus F.

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

I recently saw a woman speeding through a crosswalk on her bicycle, and she was towing a child behind her. Then she gave the car that almost hit her a defiant glare, as if it was the driver that put her child in danger. NEWS Flash: Drivers are often times not expecting for people to be standing within a crosswalk as they turn a corner (even though they should be). And most drivers are certainly NOT prepared for someone top come speeding through the crosswalk on a bicycle.

Barb's Mom

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 10:54 p.m.

@ A2Citizen--I was driving home the other night on Packard approaching Carpenter where I turn right. There is a dedicated right turn lane there. We had the green light. I person on a bicycle on the sidewalk, came flying down the side walk and never stopped just went across Carpenter. This intersection has walk signals and it was on don't walk. The cyclist should have stopped and waited for the walk signal, luckly the car in front of me saw him but he was coming from behind and this was not immediately after the light had changed.

A2 citizen

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

It makes a big difference whether the WALK sign on the crosswalk was illuminated. Drivers need to understand that it is their legal responsibility to wait for people who are using the crosswalk when the WALK sign is illuminated -- both to wait for pedestrians and to wait for cyclists in areas where bikes are permitted on sidewalks. In short: you should not be driving in a way that makes you "almost hit" law-abiding citizens. Similarly, if there is no light at a crosswalk, then you are legally responsible for looking around enough to make sure you do not hit people who are using that crosswalk.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.

I think the problem brought up here is a subset of a larger problem, which can be best characterized as the "hybrid use of all surfaces as deemed convenient for the bicyclist." The road is fine until it's time to get across the street at will - at which point, the bicyclist becomes a sidewalk pedestrian. The sidewalk is fine until it gets crowded, at which point the bicyclist becomes a road vehicle. That's fine until the road is inconvenient (a light, etc.) at which point the bicyclist once again transforms and heads straight to the sidewalk. I was chastised by a bicyclist just the other morning who was cycling north on William Street. I proceeded to cross Division (no traffic was coming in my direction), bu the bicyclist believed that he had the right of way to make a right from William onto Division without stopping first. These people expect you to stop for them when they have a green light, which is fine. However, when they have a red light, they go regardless. "Heads I win, tails you lose" so to speak. Again, whichever is most convenient at the time, that's what bicyclists appear to use.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

Easy, Mick52. At least GoNavy got the name of the street right, unlike you.


Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 2:16 a.m.

Williams St goes east/west.


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:47 p.m.

I totally agree, I can recall watching a girl get slammed by a pickup truck at north university and state street, simply because it was night time and she came out of the diag right into the sidewalk. The driver had no chance whatsoever of seeing her.

Linda Peck

Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Not only at sidewalk intersections do bicyclists fail to stop, but also on the streets and roads! It is very dangerous because the drivers of cars don't know what they are going to do! They are completely unpredictable! This is similar to pedestrian behavior, except on a bike the person is going much faster and an accident is harder to avoid at higher speeds!


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

I totally