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Posted on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes up in Ann Arbor since adoption of crosswalk ordinance

By Kyle Feldscher


A police officer ties caution tape to a crosswalk sign after a pedestrian was struck by a car while attempting to cross Plymouth Road between Traverwood Drive and Nixon Road on Aug. 7. The woman later died.

Melanie Maxwell |

The number of crashes involving cars and pedestrians in Ann Arbor has increased since the city adopted its pedestrian safety ordinance, an analysis of statistics shows.

But, a city project manager said it's not clear the ordinance itself has had an impact on those numbers, especially since it wasn't enforced during its first year.

The death of a University of Michigan student who was hit by a car while she was crossing Plymouth Road has raised new questions about the safety of pedestrians in the city and prompted a city council member to address the issue Monday night.


Sharita Williams

Facebook photo

Sharita Williams was killed while crossing Plymouth Road earlier this month when she was struck by a green Chevrolet Cavalier in a pedestrian crosswalk. Witnesses have told the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon crosswalk was activated when Williams was in the street. The investigation continues.

The city's pedestrian crosswalk ordinance requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians standing at the curb of a crosswalk. This is slightly different than the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code requirement of yielding the right of way to pedestrians who are within a crosswalk.

Even though Ann Arbor is safer than other Michigan cities when it comes to pedestrian crashes, statistics from Michigan Traffic Crash Facts show the number of pedestrian crashes in Ann Arbor have risen in the last few years.

When the ordinance was first passed in 2010 — and when Ann Arbor adopted the UTC— there were 45 pedestrian-car crashes. A year later, that number shot up to 63 crashes before falling slightly to 60 crashes in 2012.

The number of crashes in 2012 and 2011 was markedly higher both years than for any of the years from 2004 until 2009. During those years, as few as 36 vehicle -pedestrian crashes were recorded in 2006. The highest number, 52, was recorded in 2007 and 2008.

Pat Cawley, senior project manager for the city of Ann Arbor, said he’s not sure the pedestrian ordinance has affected the number of crashes. He noted the ordinance was originally passed in 2010, started to be enforced in 2011 and was revised in 2012.

That moving target makes it hard for Cawley to accurately state how the ordinance has affected the frequency of pedestrian-car crashes.

“I do see an uptick in the last couple years, but we don’t know how many more pedestrians are out there or if there’s more vehicular traffic out there,” he said. “There’s been an increase in crashes overall. As the economy picked up, more people are driving more and crashes have increased.”

Plymouth Road is one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the city, with about 24,000 vehicles moving on the corridor every day, according to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study.

Cawley said the city tracks the usage of the RRFB crosswalk through how many times the buttons that activate the lights are pushed throughout the day. He said the Plymouth Road crosswalks, installed in 2012, get at least 200 button pushes per day.

City of Ann Arbor Transportation Manager Eli Cooper said the crosswalk is intended to “shout” at drivers to make them aware they’re coming up to a pedestrian crossing.

However, Cooper said he recognizes that city officials need to make sure the public is educated about crosswalks in Ann Arbor.

“Engineering is only one component. Education is a fundamental element, as is enforcement,” he said.

He added, “We’re trying to educate motorists and pedestrians how to maneuver safely on our transportation system.”

Many changes have come to Plymouth Road’s crosswalks during the last 10 years. An island was installed in 2003, and RRFB lights are the most recent change. However, some residents still think more must be done.

Susan Filipiak’s mother, Helen, was killed crossing Plymouth Road when she was struck by a driver in 2002. Like Williams, Helen Filipiak was struck by a driver during the middle of the day. She was trying to cross the street during a walk from the Sunrise Assisted Living Facility.

Susan Filipiak said the crosswalk at that time was just lines painted on the pavement. There was no pedestrian ordinance at the time, but the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code language giving the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk was in effect.

It’s clear that words on a page aren’t enough, Filipiak said.

“They (city officials) would not look at more stop lights there, and that’s what it really needs,” she said. “Not more pedestrian crossing zones, they need stop lights.”

Cooper said the RRFBs have been working as advertised in most circumstances and Cawley added that the mean speeds on Plymouth Road have slowed since the RRFBs were introduced. The number of drivers yielding to pedestrians has also increased, Cawley said.

However, Cawley said it’s difficult for city traffic engineers to know where pedestrian-car crashes take place the most on the city’s roadways.

“Pedestrian and bike crashes are a lot less frequent,” he said. “We have a hard time really tracking them and seeing where hot spots are. With vehicle crashes, it’s easier because there are more of them and we can trend them a little better.”

Still, a vocal contingent of Ann Arbor residents is demanding something be done, including an independent traffic engineering evaluation of the city’s crosswalks. Some are pushing for the complete repeal of the crosswalk ordinance.

Filipiak said it’s time for city leaders to decide if pedestrian safety is more important than a quick drive into downtown Ann Arbor from the east.

“Ann Arbor is styling itself as a walkable city, accessible to pedestrians,” she said. “If something can’t be done, it’s shameful.”

This map shows the location of all fatal pedestrian crashes in the city of Ann Arbor between 2003 and 2013. There have been six such crashes.

View Ann Arbor fatal pedestrian crashes (2003-2012) in a larger map

Editor's note: This story had conflicting information about when the ordinance began to be enforced. That has been fixed.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Tue, Aug 27, 2013 : 4:30 a.m.

This is UM town. The students will walk in front of cars thinking they are invincible. Which they are not. It is a nightmare on State Street so why should this be any different? Just another distraction Ann Arbor does not need and having this on Plymouth Road is just another way for drivers and pedestrians to think they have the right of way. This is a great idea, but not on Plymouth Road or other very well traveled roads.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 6:45 a.m.

Stupid is what stupid does!

Stuart Brown

Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 4:23 a.m.

Nicholas Urfe said, 'Does this "analysis of statistics" normalize the data to account for both the number of cars at each location and the number of pedestrians?' The "Dead Right" crowd is soooo profound! A T-test is designed to show the probability that a change is due to random chance. The data set showing car-pedestrian crashes over the last few years shows a clear increase that has less than a 1% chance of being due to random chance. I strongly disagree with the notion that, unless normalization is done, the statistical significance of the data can be dismissed. When the city spends money or changes laws to improve safety, the number of incidents should decrease in absolute terms, unless there is a large population increase. Oh, but wait, you say the program was never billed as a safety program but was sold as a plan to improve the walkability of Ann Arbor?--I say bad tradeoff.


Sat, Aug 24, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

I walk and drive in Ann Arbor. What I see is that both drivers and pedestrians need to pay better attention to what is going on around them. I see walkers just step off the curb and expect a driver to get his/her car to defy the Law of Physics and stop within a space of 2 feet. I, as a walker, have been at one of the new crosswalks and had 10 cars wiz pass before a car stopped to let me cross one lane. Then had to wait until another 6 cars wiz by before I could cross the other lane ( I know how many because I counted).

A Voice of Reason

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

Just one final comment about this issue: the commenting community called this right...something was not and will not be right with the crosswalk changes in town. It is very unfortunate that a woman had to loose her life to have this issue readdressed. I have witness 2 near misses on 4 lane roads by a similar situation and a few more seconds would have caused 2 more injuries. This is when you fire the person who implemented the crosswalks on Plymouth Road or fire the local officials that supported this and told us we (AnnArbor.Com commenters) that we were wrong. The commenters had this right all again and hopefully things will change and no more lives will be lost in our "safe town"


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

i like these a lot better than the standard crosswalk with a constantly flashing yellow light. You see it all the time and just drive on through unless you see someone. The flash only when needed gets my attention much better when driving.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

I AM surprised to hear pedestrian / vehicle accidents are up. I live in NE Ann Arbor and have felt the improved cross walks make things safer. I have personally used the Plymouth Rd crossing with the blinking lights. I love how the traffic actually pays attention to them and stops. I also like the 'safe zones' ( the curbed islands) in the middle of the street where a pedestrian can pause in a more or less safe place. Still, I would NEVER cross the street without being 100% certain that traffic sees me and is stopping for me. At the blinking lights, about 20% of traffic ignores them and speeds on. This is better than most crossing (without the blinkers) in town where 90% of traffic speeds on and 10% stops if you are ANYWHERE in the area. Those are terribly dangerous. I think the city council was trying to make things better with their local ordinance but I don't think it has worked. They should make Ann Arbor laws uniform with the rest of the state and ENFORCE them. It's pretty simple really. I've never seen any enforcement activity at any crosswalk despite all the articles and city council actions. They should also continue with improving crossing, creating islands, putting in flashing lights, etc. And, they should cut back vegetation where it obscures sight lines for both vehicles and pedestrians. Like at the Huron High School crossing. I have to step into the road before I can see on-coming traffic - which on Huron Parkway can be going 45+ mph. I'm so sorry for the family and friends of this young woman. It's such a tragedy.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Problem stems from the fact that crosswalks are in the middle of roads. Drivers are used to crosswalks from corner to corner but not in the middle of the road. That's why traffic lights to tell drivers to STOP should be in place. The city should have thought not so much that a crosswalk in the middle of the road would be handy but if it would be safer place for pedestrians to cross. The city hasn't yet found a way to get four lanes of traffic to stop at the same time to allow people to cross. It is impossible to get two lanes of traffic going the same direction to stop at once and then the next two lanes in the opposite direction to stop in order to safely cross. Bikers/pedestrians MUST pay attention to whether cars are stopping or not and many do not and probably those who were hit were not aware of oncoming vehicles not slowing down for them. And bikers/pedestrians MUST be aware that just because one car in a lane stops, it doesn't mean the cars in the other lane are also stopping. LOOK before crossing into the second lane of traffic.

Old Salt

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

The city will change this ordinance when one of our administrators is injured and his /her car damaged when hit from behind at one of these crossimgs


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

For me the main problem about the crosswalk scheme is that it's very easy to miss it when driving. Yes of course you try to be careful when driving but I think it would be a much better idea to install something like a crosswalk signal that would turn a stoplight RED when someone wanted to cross. Drivers would easily see it and I believe safety would be MUCH improved. I have often thought that I would not want to step out onto busy Plymouth Road (for example) thinking that without a doubt drivers would think to stop at those crosswalks. They are dangerous and I believe the increase in accidents (and deaths) shows that.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Does this "analysis of statistics" normalize the data to account for both the number of cars at each location and the number of pedestrians? If not, then it is deeply flawed and very misleading. Where is the detailed information on the methodology?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Yesterday, as I was driving west on Plymouth Road around 4 p.m., the Traverwood light was flashing at that crosswalk. The cars stopped appropriately and the pedestrians crossed, but I could see a young man with a grocery bag out of the corner of my eye approaching behind us on the sidewalk to the right of me. I could see from his face that he thought, "Good the the light is flashing. I can still cross.". I was in the right lane, so I could see him better, but the car in the left lane did not and proceeded to go as the young man entered the street. Good thing I was in the closest lane and that I saw him or this could been another bad situation. I think this is something that many didn't think of (I know I didn't) - people crossing sometime after the flashing light has gone off and some time after the original use(s) of the light have passed. You can be an extremely alert driver and still have something like this happen if you are concentrating on those who pushed the button crossing safely and not thinking about those who may be running up from behind so they can cross while the light is still flashing.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Good post. People need to physically turn their heads when driving and check their rear-view and side mirrors as well. Driving requires this. You were doing that and saved yourself and him a lot of grief.

Mackinac Straits

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

The new ordinance is a case of a "solution" looking for a problem. It's confusing to many motorists. The lights, signage, and rules are foreign to many, or most drivers in the area at any given time. Since the rule and physical set up is not uniform with pedestrian rules and crosswalks throughout the State, a significant number of drivers are unaware and/or unsure of how to deal with the crosswalks. It's no surprise accidents are up. I pass through several of these new crosswalks during the week, and each week there is either a close call with a pedestrian, or a near miss collision among vehicles. With this new set up, Pedestrians stroll right into traffic, or motorist who do know the rules hit their brakes to the shock of following traffic.

Mark Witthoff

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:03 a.m.

Looking at the bigger picture Ann Arbor has a much larger problem with traffic in general. When are they going to realize that the amount of traffic coming in and out of the city is becoming a real problem? These times fluctuate daily(Hospital shift changes etc. and seasonally with classes starting soon) it is only going to get worse. They need to consider mass transit coming in and out of the city. The amount of accidents fatal and non fatal is overwhelming. Adding a rail system coming into the city from North East South and West would only encourage new technologies, promote new business, increase safety and productivity. This is a problem they are getting to late in the game the problem is already present and with increasing traffic flow from a growing Ann Arbor it will not get any easier or improve. You account for Art Fair, Football games, and all the other events that occur there are endless reasons for a rail system to be installed internal to the city as well as connecting commuter cities. Roads can only handle so much traffic. When will people wake up to see that the bigger problem doesnt lie in a cross walk its much much bigger.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:45 a.m.

Ann Arborites can not drive to save their lives.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:59 a.m.

The dissembling by certain council members as well as city officials trying to cover up the fact a bad decision was made with the pedestrian crossing ordinance is all too apparent. Ann Arbor's population is fairly flat since 2000 and an application of a T-test to the crash data suggests the change in 2011 & 2012 from prior years is statistically significant. The law was supposed to improve safety, not degrade it and the improvement should have shown up in 2011 & 2012.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Aug 25, 2013 : 3:25 a.m.

I will assert that the metric that matters is the probability that someone living/working in Ann Arbor is involved in a car/pedestrian collision is what matters. Is it really a good idea for the City of Ann Arbor to be encouraging people to use pedestrian crosswalks if it is true that traffic is way up on routes like Plymouth Road? I suspect the new crosswalks do improve safety some amount but given that more people in absolute terms have been injured, the improvement does not compensate for other factors.

NE Steward

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:13 p.m.

Residency might be flat but how about commuters?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:32 a.m.

So have they interviewed the driver that killed Sharita Williams yet?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

Plymouth Rd. is a cash cow for the city due to the sheer number of cars traveling. With the introduction of these 3 to 4 awkward crosswalks in the most inappropriate places along that road it is now a death trap. Most of the property along that road belongs to UM also, who is not doing anything to advocate & pay for multiple pedestrian bridges to replace those awkward and insane crosswalks. Heck, they could use the money from those ugly DTE solar panel as a start as a symbol of concern for the non-athlete students for a change. I would think UM would jump to have multiple pedestrian bridges with their name and emblem on it ....since they already own most of the city.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

a lot of arguments have been made against the "blaming the victim." but whether we like it or not, in a pedestrian/ car crash, the outcome always 'blames' the pedestrian more than the driver. it's physics. I've crossed plenty of streets in ann arbor. I never-- that's NEVER-- expect moving cars to stop for me-- and I always cross according to that supposition.

Ann Arbor Parents For Students

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:52 p.m.

Great article. The last article tried published by tried to persuade us that crosswalks are safer than not having them without these facts. People have a false sense of security if they use the crosswalk. There should not be crosswalks for 4 lane roads nor road where traffic is greater that 40 miles per hour.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

Great Article. I was driving through town and my 5 year old pointed out, "that lady didn't look both ways before she crossed." I had a person cross the street when I had a green light. I honked my horn and got a middle finger. If drivers are held accountable for their actions, pedestrians have an equal responsibility to be safe. Why not issue tickets for jaywalkers? I know Ann Arbor would make a lot of money off pediatricians crossing the street between 2 crosswalks instead of walking an additional 25 yards. Three of the major crosswalks that I am aware of have a speed limit of over 35mph, most cars go at least 40. When you are driving that fast the last thing you are looking for is a pedestrian crossing the road when you are unfamiliar with the area.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

So when you are SPEEDING in an unfamiliar area, the last thing you're looking for is pedestrians? Great argument.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:04 a.m.

umichmsu - Did you really mean just pediatricians? Couldn't Ann Arbor make money off all physicians crossing the street between 2 crosswalks?


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

OOPS! "I know Ann Arbor would make a lot of money off pediatricians crossing the street between 2 crosswalks instead of walking an additional 25 yards." Yes, they do make pretty good money I guess, but they can't charge by income.

Russell J Stambaugh, PhD

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

This story would have been easier to interpret if pedestrian deaths had been graphed for a ten year period. There is no sense of variation prior to the ordinances changes. Likewise, it is not logical to suggest that the ordinance couldn't be responsible for the first year's increase ' because it wasn't being enforced. The chief flaw in the ordinance is that it changes the psychology of drivers and pedestrians. That started to happen as soon as it wad passed. Hopefully, enforcement increased penetration among drivers. I have never seen enforcement directed at pedestrians-- and precious little on drivers. Finally, why our council would seek to empower pedestrians in a city of 45,000 students, many of whom are none too vigilant in the first place entirely defeats me. To do so in excess of State law is also confounding. All that said, pedestrian crossing on Plymouth was needed, had signals, and the tragic death there probably didn't come from too much pedestrian empowerment. The crossings need to stay, but we should return to the State standard of respecting pedestrians right-of-way once they are in the crosswalk, not merely approaching it.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:07 p.m.

they suck!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:27 p.m.

The only flaw with any cross walk is distracted bad drivers. Don't bother trying to argue that the pedestrian doesn't have the right of way or was wearing dark clothing or didn't look for cars. Drivers have a responsibility to be alert to their surroundings at all times. End of discussion.

lou glorie

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

The Plymouth Rd. corridor is pretty heavily populated. It's understandable that people who live and work in the area would like more crossings. It's a long way between lights--I think an unreasonable distance for walkers. The solution the city chose was a hybrid crossing light system. Problem is that those flashing yellow lights are confusing, meaningless or distracting. I'll admit that for me there was even some unpleasant neurological reactions--those lights seemed to interrupt feedback loops. Sorry to say, it looks like the city made a boo-boo here. Staff seems to like new--never before used--geegaws and this one was a real klinker. Because of the population density in that area, I've started to think that general traffic calming measures might be called for. I can hear the boos from the cloud where all you other posters live, but we also live on planet earth and a five lane road with cars and trucks mostly speeding, acts as a barrier to people on foot. I'd like to see the city put in plain, ordinary cross-walk lights that cycle through yellow, red and green. If these don't work, the city needs to find a way to get a couple actual traffic lights on that road. One little thing in answer to other posters about j-walking and j-biking: Cars are not bikes are not people. Yes, cars must wait at lights, but I see no reason why humans on foot or on bikes should wait at a light when there are no oncoming cars in sight. Insisting that all creatures follow rules set in place for cars doesn't make sense to me--If I'm at Cafe Zola and I want to get to Pac Rim, I'm going to cross in front of Zola, walk down the alley to get to Liberty. If I'm on my bike at Catherine and Fourth about to turn left onto Catherine, I'm not going to stop, get off my bike, then back on and then start up again if there are no cars at that intersection. "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." RWE

lou glorie

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:14 p.m.

Dear JC, I believe that the reason traffic signals were invented was to regulate the movement of cars (horse drawn carriages also). In other words, to keep vehicles from crashing into each other and walkers. My thinking on pedestrians and bikes is that regulations of their movement does not need to be as strict because of the threat they pose to others is not so severe. Admittedly, bikes can injure pedestrians, but the regulations can address this threat, by simply stating that bikes must yield to pedestrians. The accommodations to walkers and bikes I have in mind, would be akin to our change in regs that permitted cars to turn right (sometimes left also) on a red light. Cars are required to yield to pedestrians and bikes crossing--acknowledging that they are also crossing against the light. The fact that some cars will turn in front of a car with the right of way is about human behavioral quirks, that no law on earth will ever eradicate. Question is, do we want every last facet of our lives regulated or will we learn to accept the imperfectability of just about everything as a condition of life on planet earth? When I see a pedestrian waiting at the light on the deserted corner of Miller and Ashley at 10pm I think s/he has really internalized a law created primarily for a machine. I hate to see this happen to any sentient being.

lou glorie

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

Oh Yes, I'm ashamed that I'm putting this in the post script rather than at the top, but deepest condolences to the family and friends of Sharita Williams. Her death followed a convergence of human folly and the capriciousness of fate. I'm sorry that this lovely young woman is gone.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

You had my support until the last paragraph which made no sense at all. It's the law..bicycles are required to obeys traffic signs and signals. Just do it.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

Crosswalks and ordinances don't save lives-people do. That means driver AND pedestrian!

B. Jean

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

I remember when the mayor said something similar to "this is about global education" like that is possible. In the meantime, people are getting killed. Ann Arbor is a destination for visitors, that will not change. How do you educate visitors to your traffic laws regarding your crosswalks? The simple answer is, it is nearly impossible. Meanwhile people are getting killed. Distracted driving is now the new normal for us all and that alone increases the danger every day. These fatalities are occurring in broad daylight and some not even at peak travel times. Wake up city council, your crosswalks are not working (for pedestrians or drivers) and are causing fatal accidents! Are you egos so enormous you cannot admit this is not working? But take your time recognizing the obvious city council, meanwhile mean-while more people will die.

A A Resident

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

We could put crosswalks on all the freeways too, but it would probably only increase the overall carnage. Hello, a lot of this stuff was worked out many years ago.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

I'll respond to Russ here so more people can see the stats. Here's a break down from each year. 2012- 60 crashes: No injuries in 7, 22 possible injuries, 21 nonincapactiating injuries, 8 incompacitating, 2 fatal 2011- 63 crashes – no inj in 5, 23 inj possible, 23 nonincap, 12 incapac, no fatal 2010- 45 – no inj 2, poss 17, non 19, 7 incapac, no fatal 2009- 42 – no inj 3, 22 poss, 16 non, 1 incapac, no fatal 2008- 52 – no inj 3, 17 poss, 26 non, 6 incapac, no fatal 2007- 52 – no inj 1, 29 poss, 15 non, 6 incapac, 1 fatal 2006- 36 – no inj 2, 17 poss, 11 non, 5 incapac, 1 fatal 2005- 45 – no inj 1, 22 poss, 18 non, 4 incapac, 0 fatal 2004- 43 – no inj 3, 18 poss, 15 non, 6 incapac, 1 fatal


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

In the last year and a half we have had as many fatalities as the previous eight years. Crashes have increased 50% per year. AND there is NO correlation between the dumb laws and increased accidents? Do you have to flunk the IQ test to get elected?

Stuart Brown

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:35 a.m.

Russ, the increase is statistically significant (I ran a T-test on the data.)

Russ Miller

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:50 p.m.

Thanks for your reply. when I read "analysis of statistics" I hoped that you'd employed more than a look over the numbers and actually used some of the normal methods of statistics to help us understand whether the variation we're seeing (increased highest number of pedestrian involved crashes in the 2003-2012 time series) are a real trend distinguishable above the random variation that occurs between years. Imagine it's 2009 and you're looking at the huge jump in accidents in 2007 and 2008 - it's a similar percentage to the jump in 2011 and 2012. To what would you attribute that? anyone interested in grabbing raw data to look at comparisons within or between communities, or digging into the UD-10 accident reports can search a the SEMCOG site:

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

These are copy and pasted from my notes, so apologies for the shorthand.

Russ Miller

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:59 p.m.

Kyle, Is the following the extent of your statistical analysis? If not please share: When the ordinance was first passed in 2010 — and when Ann Arbor adopted the UTC— there were 45 pedestrian-car crashes. A year later, that number shot up to 63 crashes before falling slightly to 60 crashes in 2012. The number of crashes in 2012 and 2011 was markedly higher both years than for any of the years from 2004 until 2009. During those years, as few as 36 vehicle -pedestrian crashes were recorded in 2006. The highest number, 52, was recorded in 2007 and 2008.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:49 p.m.

While I agree that crosswalks are necessary I feel that if a few changes are made they would be much safer. 1. No crosswalks on roads with speed limits above 35 mph. (Only regular traffic lights) 2. No crosswalks on roads with more than one lane in each direction. (Again, only regular traffic lights) It is almost impossible to safely stop a vehicle that is traveling over 35 mph by the time the pedestrian is seen. A vehicle stopped in the curb lane while allowing a pedestrian to cross creates a blind spot for both the pedestrian and a car that may be traveling in the left lane. 3. All crosswalks should have red flashing lights that are triggered when the pedestrian pushes a button at the curb to cross.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

These crosswalks are just plain stupid. They are dangerous for motorists and pedestrians alike. Overhead crosswalks would have been cheaper both in the short and long run. Lives would have been saved. What you now have is a political environment where the government officials can't admit it was a bad idea because of liability.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet. Right City council...?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

I don't think enough is being made of the sharp conflict between the City ordinance and the signs posted at the crosswalks. The ordinance states: "10:148. Pedestrians crossing streets. (a) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to every pedestrian APPROACHING OR WITHIN a crosswalk." But the signs say: "STOP for [pedestrians] WITHIN crosswalk." No mention of "approaching". (The sign is pictured at the head of this article, and also in the 2008 City publication linked here by Brad.) That seemingly allows drivers to coast through crosswalks where the pedestrian is only approaching, not yet in the crosswalk, while at the same time the pedestrian is told the motorist is supposed to stop when the pedestrian is approaching. And a motorist might reasonably think the sign's version takes precedence over the ordinance, just as a sign posting a speed limit takes precedence over a general speed limit stated in statute or ordinance. That's a recipe for disaster. I don't know how much this may have contributed to crosswalk accidents, or to Sharita Williams' death, but at least it is a very bad situation. And one wonders if this might expose the City to liability in some cases. How on earth did the Mayor and Council, and the traffic people advising them, miss this terrible situation?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

I will confess that I have crossed streets in Ann Arbor at any and every distance from a corner at all times of day (walking and biking) and never once had an issue or problem getting across any street in regard to how long it took. I had the same training as A Dexter Person, look both ways, wait until traffic clears and proceed. The traffic is just not that bad to make you wait an unreasonable amount of time in this city. I also look down the road for any cars coming at high speed. And I look at the drivers to see if they see me. There is no reason to do ANY enhancements to assist pedestrians. I think if people do believe they need this stuff they are impatient and selfish and desire control. My suspicions are that this interference with traffic is connected to the "green" and alternate energy agenda where proponents will do anything they can to interfere with anything gas powered.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

I am not surprised to learn that pedestrian-vehicle crashes are up. The new ordinances give pedestrians a false sense of security. Did the designers of these crosswalks not learn in kindergarten that yellow means slow down, not stop?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:13 p.m.

There's a corollary in the world of boating: sailboats have the right of way over power boats. This includes Great Lakes freighters. But if you really think that a 1000 foot laden ore freighter can stop in time to miss hitting you if you ride the wind into its path, you'll be in trouble. It's physics. And this is why the Michigan law says that pedestrians should not step into the path of a car that is clearly not going to be able to stop. It's common sense. I agree with many others who have commented - drivers need to slow down & focus on their driving; pedestrians need to focus on their walking, be aware and use common sense. I wonder if the university orientation programs have a module on safe walking Ann Arbor.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

this plus a million. straight up.

Scott Floyd

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

Two lanes going in one direction is extremely dangerous, especially when one car stops and a car in the other lane (going same direction) does not stop. If there is heavy traffic and the pedestrian is not walking I am often tempted to keep driving. I feel that my stopping might actually endanger the pedestrian, because so many other drivers do not stop. As for after dark, it's difficult to see if a pedestrian is waiting to cross. I have lived in Oregon, and there is excellent awareness (if not fear) in drivers there, because they ticket heavily for not stopping, just about everyone veers on the side of stopping. But that is a statewide law (I believe). In A2 we have people always coming from elsewhere, so even if a local awareness increases, there is still danger from out-of-town drivers. It really needs to be a statewide initiative.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

Good point Scott. I will add that unfortunately that driver who stops frequently waves the pedestrian across without looking to see if there is traffic in the lane next to them. Also sometimes drivers in both lanes will stop and wave on the pedestrian while a car is coming up the turn lane to the left of them. People think they are being nice to the pedestrian but they are not supposed to stop unless there is a stop light or sign. That is considered impeding traffic. Happens with cars too.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

The question of whether the current ordinance is the "cause" of the increase is irrelevant. An increase of 33% cannot be (fully) attributed to an increase in pedestrian or vehicular traffic (as alluded to by the PM). The one singular fact we do know is the the current ordinance did not make the streets safer for pedestrians. Therefore it most certainly needs to be revisited. pretending there is no problem is not an acceptable course of action (and I group "educating" the public as pretending there is no problem.)


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

A comprehensive pedestrian-safety analysis is needed urgently. Such analysis would be based on crash rates: In Ann Arbor before, during, and after the transition In comparison municipalities over the same period At a minimum, rates need comparison on a per-population and a per-vehicle-mile-traveled basis. Where possible they should also be compared on a per-pedestrian-volume basis, though this is difficult because of lack of pedestrian counts. Virtually everybody commenting in this thread is genuinely concerned about pedestrian safety. We need careful analysis to figure out how it's best promoted.

A A Resident

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Yup, there should be signs at all entrances to Ann Arbor reading, "Warning, entering a no common sense zone". When I spoke to the mayor about how dangerous the new crosswalk law was, he was quite resolute about it being an improvement.

A A Resident

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:19 p.m.

Nope. Slippery characters with an agenda, who hadn't thoroughly thought things through, with potential liability issues to consider now.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:42 p.m.

Ya think they will ever admit they goofed?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

When I first read the city was passing the ordinance, I thought to myself this is a disaster waiting to happen... HORRIBLE idea not only false sense of security for the pedestrians also confusing for drivers, new drivers, older drivers and people from out of town. Why not a stop light? Then you know you have to stop.. I was taught Green means GO, Yellow means SLOW and RED means STOP... how hard can that be. I will say it again. These crosswalk flashing yellow are very confusing. I know a lot pedestrians feel they have the right of way. It is apparent when driving downtown and in those cases they are making a choice to put themselves in a bad situation. In this case it is a false sense of security and the result of it is just plan sad a young girl lost her life and a driver has the guilt of that. The people who made this decission are just as guilty in my opinion.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:47 p.m.

Stop lights cost a lot of money. Doesn't the light on Huron at Chapin go red after flashing yellow? I pass through there the other day. It was flashing red, a person at the corner was not walking and so I proceeded. In the rear view mirror, I saw it turned red, a clear signal to stop. Does the Plymouth Rd light to the same, or just flash? If it is different than the Huron St light, then A2 has made a serious mistake. They all need to be the same. Someone please advise on the Plymouth Rd signal.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:30 p.m.



Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:10 p.m.

Excellent comments!

sports nut

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

I am not an Ann Arbor citizen but live outside the city and try my best to avoid Ann Arbor as much as possible especially during Fall and Winter semesters. Students and citizens of Ann Arbor think these crosswalks make them untouchable but this unfortunate accident proves otherwise. I agree with some of the comments as in why have them in the middle of the block or section of road? Why not leave them at the corners? The exercise would not hurt us BUT walking in front of a moving vehicle does whether or not you have the right away. I see to many people looking at their phones and walking at the same time, that's nuts and someone, will get hurt. Also I see many people walk in front of a moving vehicle between parked cars on the side of the street looking and not looking. This is because they think you should stop. These crosswalks are not going to work if the regular corners at traffic lights or stop signs haven't worked yet! Plus how are you going to educate new students every year or semester? Most of them would get a email (if they choose this path) and not read it fully if it didn't pertain information of their class. It is a problem not just in Ann Arbor but needs to be address to everyone not just drivers.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

As a trained and educated engineer, we always tried our new processes and methods to make sure they worked. Maybe the same should be done with city traffic engineers, city officials and council members for all existing and new laws inclusive of pedestrian ordinances.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

A2 copied the law from Boulder Co. Not too many other cities employ such a kooky governance. Boulder had at least one crosswalk fatality about two years ago. Council should have rescinded the Ordinance at that time. Not a peep. The Fed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study long ago which forms the basis for many of the RRFB and HAWK systems in use today. Using observers in Florida they watched a few painted crosswalks and RRFB crosswalks. The stats were something like 50% average stopping rate for the crosswalks. mid 80s% for the RRFBs. The red HAWK systems had the best driver stop rate in the 90s percentile. Like Michigan, Florida requires the pedestrian to ensure that it is safe to enter the crosswalk first. Even a 95% success rate means a pedestrian is at risk 5% of the time - not good.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:29 p.m.

It saddens me to know that there was a fatality on the road that I travel on most often. I was hoping the pedestrian walkways would help make the road safer for the students in my neighborhood. I don't see a problem with where they are located on Plymouth Rd. The students need places to get across safely. We all know it's a busy road. Yes, they could walk down to a corner and back track to get to where they need to go. However, why shouldn't the city make businesses and transportation more accessible to students who have no vehicles, or are perhaps trying to help the environment by not adding more pollutants to the air. They have buses to catch, classes to get to, groceries that need buying, etc. We should look out for our neighbors! It took me a while to get used to the cross walks. I used to slam my foot on the brakes when the light came on only to realize that the pedestrian was on the other side of the road and I didn't need to stop yet or they already crossed. Now I slow down enough so that if the light is flashing I have plenty of time to scan the sides of the road for pedestrians to see if and when I need to stop. Pedestrians have the right away not just because it's the law but because it's the right thing to do. It shouldn't be every man/woman for himself, it should be us working together to help make the environment around us safe for everyone! In other words, put the phone down pedestrians and be wary of us drivers. Drivers put your phones down and be alert and ready to stop for pedestrians and bikers, especially on Plymouth Road!!!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:32 p.m.

Stop light needed. Otherwise there will be another incident, if not fatality.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

Here's a link to the city publication that screamed "Pedestrians Rule!". Is it any wonder we are having the sort of problems that we are? It would be good to know who was behind that and what made them think that was a good idea. My money is on Eli Cooper.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

mis-spelling intentional.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:33 p.m.

I'm surprised you didn't find one that screams "Bycycles Rule!!!"


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Clearly more data is needed to look at what the cause of the fluctuation is. Benchmarking against pedestrian-car crashes nationwide due to distracted driving? Normalizing for increased traffic or changes in pedestrian activity? Calling a "count" a "statistical analysis" is being a little generous. Also determining whether or not pedestrian safety increases with enforcement would be important. (If I knew speeding were not enforced, you can bet I'd drive a little faster around town.) Anyone who doesn't yield to a pedestrian within a crosswalk is breaking state law, not Ann Arbor's.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

I do not see how "enforcement" would improve anything. Typically the police can only monitor something like this on a very limited basis, so any enforcement would affect a small number of drivers in a small number of locations.

Jon Wax

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

this is such a stinking dodge: don't talk to me until you guys start to ticket the jaywalkers downtown. Peace Wax


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

For what? I believe no jaywalking law exists in A2 or in Michigan.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

"The city's pedestrian crosswalk ordinance requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians standing at the curb of a crosswalk. This is slightly different than the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code requirement of yielding the right of way to pedestrians who are within a crosswalk." This is an incorrect statement. The ordinance reads "Section 1. That Section 10:148 of Chapter 126 of Title X of the Code of the City of Ann Arbor be amended to read as follows: 10:148. Pedestrians crossing streets. (a) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and yield the right-of-way to every pedestrian approaching or within a crosswalk." And what I have seen is walkers take advantage of the approaching crosswalk. They will start to cross before they are at the corner cutting at an angle into the crosswalk.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 7:04 p.m.

Justcurious ..what are you referring to ? That IS what is say. The article clearly does not state ..right-of-way to every pedestrian approaching or before you scold. Mick52..I did not quote state law, that is Ann Arbors regulation.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

It seems your post confirms the paragraph you quoted. It is not incorrect. The city ordinance is contrary to state law. I am not aware of any state law that requires a driver to stop for a pedestrian approaching a crosswalk, only people in a crosswalk.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

".....right-of-way to every pedestrian approaching or within a crosswalk." That IS what it says.

Widow Wadman

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

Eli Cooper, Sabra Briere, and John Hieftje need to be replaced. Traffic engineers need to be consulted before City Council closes down any more traffic lanes to cars or creates any more ridiculous pedestrian/crosswalk ordinances.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

First Warder's have a shot at one of these folks this November.

Jim Clarkson

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

What ever happened to "look both ways before crossing the street". Even if I am walking across a one way street I look both ways. And why is it always in the comment section that drivers are always the problem. People walk into the path of my car all the time and most of the time they are not even in a crosswalk, and don't even get me started on the bicyclists who want to "share the road" while they ignore every traffic signal in the world. I am also curious as to why the flashing pedestrian crosswalk lights were made in orange and not in red, am I applying too much common sense to the problem? I would also be curious to know who is responsible for the placement of crosswalks. On miller Ave. there are two crosswalks no more than 100 feet from each other. Not to mention the fact that they are both at bus stops which makes the whole " stopping for people standing at a crosswalk" very confusing. Also on Dexter Ave. when you are heading into town there is a crosswalk 5 feet on the other side of a hill crest which seem's to me to be a fatality waiting to happen because as a driver you would not be able to see anyone in the crosswalk until you crested the hill and by then it would be too late.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6 p.m.

Miller has so many crosswalks you have to watch the sidewalk instead of the road. Really bad at night.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Look before you leap does not apply in Ann Arbor. Our city leaders hate cars and are destined to entitle pedestrians, even at their own demise. So sad!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

The placement of the crosswalk on Plymouth Rd is a prime example of putting something where it should not be. On the north side of the road there are labs and the mall on the south side north campus. I don't see the urgent need to have a cross walk in the middle of the block at that location. All pedestrians should use the crosswalks at the traverwood dr or nixon rd crosswalks. Did the city put a crosswalk up there because pedestrians were cutting across the road there? I went to another university where they did not have these problems because the police actively patrolled the periphery of the campus looking for people cutting across the street and bike riders breaking the law. They need to remove all mid street crosswalks and they should also consider closing off more streets on campus to create more of a mall area.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Learned it kindergarten, be nice, don't hit and LOOK BOTH WAYS BEFORE CROSSING THE ROAD. I fully understand and respect the fact that pedestrians have the right of way. When I see a pedestrian attempting to cross the road I yield allowing them to cross safely just as I and every other driver should. The problem as I see it is our city government developed a pedestrian ordinance giving pedestrian a false sense of security, per the ordinance all they have do is approach a crosswalk and all traffic will stop. I drive through Ann Arbor every day and nearly every day I see pedestrians blindly crossing the road not bothering to look. The bottom line – don't step into the path of a vehicle assuming it will stop.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Some people can never admit when they are wrong. The Ann Arbor officials are a perfect example of that. I myself have noted that pedestrians seem bolder everywhere now, not even within Ann Arbor. I believe they have a perceived right to cross whenever and wherever due to this crosswalk law unique to Ann Arbor. A sense of self preservation seems to have flown out the window. Ms. Filipiak has it right. Plymouth Road needs more traffic lights "They (city officials) would not look at more stop lights there, and that's what it really needs," she said. "Not more pedestrian crossing zones, they need stop lights."


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:08 p.m.

I can sure see that the crosswalks on busy multi-lane roads like Plymouth and Eisenhower can have problems with pedestrians not being visible to a driver. On other roads, where there is just one lane going in each direction, the driver has no excuse for not stopping except that they don't want to. The crosswalks are very clear, there is a stop sign and a sign telling the motorist to stop. I see drivers in Ann Arbor pulling sleazy tricks day in and day out to shave a few seconds off their drive time, some of which are illegal so it was a mistake for the city to rely on the honor of drivers. It was a well intentioned ordinance, but unenforceable from day one without a mechanism to catch the people who disregard it. The city should have installed closed-circuit cameras to monitor those crosswalks and a mechanism like mailing someone a citation with a picture of them violating it and harsh fines and threat of escalating punishment if they disregard the citation, if they were really serious about enforcement. Without the fear that someone will get caught and punished, there are people who will disregard the ordinance because there is so little likelihood of getting caught and punished. I have stopped whenever I have seen someone ready to cross at one of those crosswalks (and prayed I wouldn't get rear-ended for doing so). My condolences to Sharita and her family. It is a tragedy whenever someone on foot or on a bike gets hit and killed by a car.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

Whenever you make a situation about safety more confusing, you usually make it more dangerous. Nice work city council!..


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Methodical analysis and willingness to make necessary adjustments to optimize pedestrian safety is the better approach to this issue. My daily bike/walk commute along Plymouth Rd. gives me an exceptionally intense perspective on the matter, however, arriving at the best solution requires professional objectivity. Thanks for this article.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Those little signs are too hard to read when you are going the legal limit or even under the legal limit. People do not read small writing fast enough to understand to stop for the middle of the street random cross walks. Ann Arbor is making it difficult for any visitors to drive in the city. The Crosswalks also are just very random, and impede the flow of traffic. You never know if the cars behind you see you stopping. It makes it for drivers random stops, either hard breaking in bad weather or just bad breaking in general. Also I wonder if those blinking lights might cause seizures. But the deaths are not just the drivers' fault. On Plymouth Rd where there are random crosswalks there are also several stop lights with pedestrian crossing a few more feet to the left or right that the pedestrians can cross. They just have to walk a little more. Instead of the random pedestrian cross walks we need stop lights. Even at cranbrook area people can not seem to use the crosswalk 50 feet away.

Don Duck

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

When it comes to a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle "in a crosswalk" I fail to see the relevance of comparing the Ann Arbor ordinance to the state law. Are these vehicles driving up onto the curb to hit these pedestrians? Rhetorical question for those attempting to answer in their minds as they read the previous question. No they are not, because the pedestrians are being struck while in the crosswalk, which breaks the state law therefor making the comparison null and void. The local ordinance that is being broken is the failure for motorists to stop their vehicles to allow for the pedestrian to cross instead of them having to risk their lives to scurry into the crosswalk and then hope and pray the motorists stop (State Law). I don't see a problem with this local ordinance. I see a problem with the road commission not properly marking non-intersection crosswalks everywhere in Ann Arbor, proper enforcement at as many crosswalks and as often as possible and an informational awareness campaign. There are many crosswalks with faded paint or not painted stripes at all let alone signage. Drivers plain and simple need to pay more attention and pedestrians need to realize that many drivers do not. In addition neither state law or local ordinance should give any pedestrian the luxury of the feeling of safety. If you have no regard for your life, step out in traffic before every motorist has begun slowing their vehicle or come to a complete stop. When I cross, I watch the traffic on the side I am currently on to prepare myself in case I need to stop, turn back, or run. I seriously doubt removing this local ordinance will have any effect on the personal safety of pedestrians when attempting to cross the street in this town with the state law to back them in their right to do so.

Don Duck

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

In Section 257.613 1.b it states (b) Steady yellow indication. Pedestrians facing the signal are advised that there is insufficient time to cross the roadway and a pedestrian then starting to cross shall yield the right of way to all vehicles. When the traffic signal for vehicles is yellow it clearly states that pedestrians shall yield the right of way to vehicles. Ann Arbor needs to reverse the city ordinance and/or put in proper traffic signals like the one on Huron to stop the flow of traffic and indicate to the pedestrian they now have the right of way. This mish mash of pedestrian crossing systems in this town is in no way conducive to the safety of the pedestrian or the driver.

Don Duck

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

LXIX you are right and wrong. As was I it seems. I can not find any direct information about right of way for pedestrians on the state level. According to state law, at least what I am able to find. None of these mid road crosswalks are legal by state definitions. According to MICHIGAN VEHICLE CODE (EXCERPT) Act 300 of 1949 Section 257.676b (1) A person, without authority, shall not block, obstruct, impede, or otherwise interfere with the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic upon a public street or highway in this state, by means of a barricade, object, or device, or with his or her person. The only reference to pedestrian right of way on a state level that I can find indicates that special pedestrian control signals be used with the proper color indicators. (2) If special pedestrian control signals are installed, they shall be placed at the far end of each crosswalk and shall indicate a "walk" or "don't walk" interval. These special signals shall apply to pedestrians only to the exclusion of a regular traffic control signal or signals which may be present at the same location, as follows: (a) Walk interval—Pedestrians facing the signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right of way by the drivers of all vehicles. (b) Don't walk (steady burning or flashing) interval—A pedestrian shall not start to cross the highway in the direction of the signals, but a pedestrian who has partially completed crossing on the walk interval of the signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while the don't walk interval of the signal is showing. I do not recall seeing any such indicators at any of the non-intersection crosswalks. Therefore it is my conclusion that the city ordinance is in direct violation of the state law without proper indicators in place to completely stop traffic and then indicate to the pedestrian they now have the right of way.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:14 p.m.

"pedestrians are being struck while in the crosswalk, which breaks the state law therefor making the comparison null and void. " Incorrect. Boths laws requires pedestrians to ensure that it is safe prior to entering onto a crosswalk. If they fail to do so they are not legally allowed to be in the street. Its like Jaywalking. They are at fault if hit. Ann Arbor Ordinance requires drivers to stop before the pedestrian even leaves the "curb". That renders the pedestrian requirement to ensure a safe passage as worthless because the car must stop before any pedestrian has to contemplate any consequences. "and pedestrians need to realize that many drivers do not." Which is exactly the lesson the Ann Arbor Ordinance has effectively undone.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2 p.m.

BTW, I am please to see another duck icon engaged in this conversation!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

I intentionally try to avoid driving in the Plymouth Rd area because of these crosswalks. It's just too scary to navigate. It's distracting to scan the sidewalks looking for pedestrians, terrifying to stop at the flashing (yellow, not red?) lights hoping others will stop too and not hit me or the walker that I know the driver can't see. I wonder if the businesses there have noticed a dip in sales.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Keep the cross walks at the intersections - why we have decided upon these "mid-block" cross walks is a mystery. How lazy have we become that we cannot walk to the corner to cross the street! Whatever happened to issuing jaywalking tickets for those who cross mid-block? Now, despite the dangers, as drivers are used to NOT having to stop in the middle of the street for pedestrians. Have all the flashing lights you like - the pattern of driving that has existed for decades will not be changed because some authority has decided that mid-block cross walks are a great idea. It's not. The accidents and deaths prove this. Remove the mid block cross walks and return to the standard intersection crossings.

Jim Walker

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Realities: 1) Posted speed limits set well below the speeds most drivers find safe and comfortable do NOT reduce the upper end of the travel speed range. 2) Giving people a false sense of security as a motorist, cyclist or pedestrian is dangerous. If cars are coming at up to about 45 mph in reality, it is foolish and often dangerous to put up signs that say 35. 3) Rules different than state or national practices require extensive long term education, something which is essentially impossible to achieve in this transient community with so many visitors and temporary residents. Ann Arbor's Project Management group and the city attorneys essentially refuse to accept or educate people to the above realities. This is not wise. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

so by your reasoning, our highway speed limits in Michigan should be 90?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

Ann Arbor installs these "feel-good" devices such as flashing light crosswalks, barriers (islands) suddenly appearing in the middle of the road, bike lanes in high traffic areas, and speed bumps, now the roads are safe for all. In particular, the flashing light crosswalks give a false sense of security to pedestrians, who now feel they can step off the curb without regard to approaching vehicles.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

The problem is obvious. 1. distracted drivers who are NOT paying attention to what is happening on the road ahead, 2. Pedestrians who are not using common sense about when it is safe for them to cross. Pedestrians might be distracted as well by playing with their phones. Pushing a button to make the lights flash does not put up a Star Trek shield around the pedestrian. They have to wait till it makes sense to push the button then wait to confirm that cars that should stop actually do. Regardless of the State or local law everyone out there is playing by the Marquis de Queensbury rule: "Protect yourself at all times."

Jack Fifer

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

I love the new cross wales but the drivers do need to be aware if they dont live in a2


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:05 p.m.

How do you make them aware?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

From the "Walk Bike Drive" safety page on the city's own website under the "If You're a Driver" section: #5 Stop on red. Yellow lights mean slow down, not speed up. Any wonder there is confusion?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:34 p.m.

"The city's pedestrian crosswalk ordinance requires vehicles to stop for pedestrians standing at the curb of a crosswalk. " If a driver waited for a crosswalk to clear of pedestrians in Ann Arbor there would be no need for the streets, the traffic would not move until Ann Arbor went to sleep. Yesterday, at the corner of State and Liberty pedestrians were standing at the curb on both sides of the street discussing where to go get some food. According to the law, no traffic could move during their discussion across State Street. The article is right; we need to educate both drivers and pedestrians. Education is no substitute for common sense and courtesy. These RRFB's that they have been installed at some cross walks, just how do they work? The pedestrians push a button, the light flashes, and the pedestrian walks cautiously across the street? This all takes place in a matter of a second or two. Common sense would tell you that the button is pressed to notify the drivers. The driver is given 3 to 5 seconds to respond to flashing lights, maybe the lights start out at yellow then change to red to insure that the driver has had time to respond. Than a signal flashes and alarm sounds(for site restricted persons) notifying the pedestrian to look both ways and proceed with caution to the other side of the street. Using the system I just explained would be much safer fore everyone, any driver ignoring the red flashing light would also be subject to fines and costs for running a red light while a pedestrian is in walk. "Filipiak said it's time for city leaders to decide if pedestrian safety is more important than a quick drive into downtown Ann Arbor from the east." Really, what kind of statement is that meant to be? When should someone's safety be second to anything? Both pedestrian and driver safety has to be part of this equation. If the traffic must flow at a rapid pace, under road or above road crosswalks are doable. The question there would be would t


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

We need an edit method here. Would the pedestrians use alternative cross walks?

Richard Carter

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

As a pedestrian, I think the quote from the movie "Starman" when the alien was observing driving is appropriate. "Red light: Stop. Green light: Go. Yellow light: Go very fast." I can't for the life of me understand the attitude expressed by some here of "well, people didn't know what those flashing yellow lights meant so they just blew right through them really fast and that makes sense." On the other hand, maybe they should be red lights, either as-is or just plain old traffic signals, just pedestrian-activated. Then at least you'd have the yellow and red cycle that no driver can pretend not to know how to deal with.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

Mayor and his buddies got what they wanted. 1. Yellow flashing lights that look so pretty and sound so much like they might help. 2. We had less police as we were told Art and Green projects just had to have priority to the city funding. 3. As a result we have had less enforcement for several years of little things like stopsigns and stoplights and speed limits. Surprise, more people are ignoring the rules, who would have guessed??? Predictable, yes. But not what our fearless leaders wanted to hear, so of course it was ignored. Only good thing you can say for our mayor and his buddies that have run things - Still looking better than Detroit.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Red is such an angry color. We need to make drivers stop without making them angry. Can we just use yellow instead? Or maybe a soothing shade of green.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Reading all of the good comments seems to point out that everyone has a responsibility to ensure that everyone can get around Ann Arbor safely- Cars, Peds, Bikes,- just the other night I saw a family of four riding in the bike lane at Division St and Catherine. They stopped for the red light and then with their small children in tow rode through the red light to continue on Catherine. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm I drive defensively, walk defensively, and ride bikes defensively.

Paul the Malcontent

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:29 p.m.

I'm not an expert, but I thought bikes utilizing the bike lanes on the roadway were required to obey the same laws as cars. If so, this family, while using caution, also broke the law by disobeying a clear traffic signaling device (i.e., running a red light - unless it was a right turn on red). As you pointed out though, it is incumbent on everyone to keep our roads safe, and those with the most to lose would be wise to exercise the most caution.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

Basically what we have here is shinning example of the "nanny state" mentality FAILING miserably. Imagine that...they still won't admit they were wrong...

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Nanny state? They tried to accommodate drivers by not putting in full-stop reds - which are really what is needed. I sense we'll see more reds now.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

It's all very simple... -Blinking yellow every else in the world does NOT mean stop. -Don't cross the street without looking both ways and waiting for cars to stop (instead of assuming everyone on the road is: a) a good driver and b) aware of this stupid law. Every preschooler gets taught not to walk in front of moving traffic.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

C'mon Matt, that is just too much common sense, in a senseless city.

Widow Wadman

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

Mike, as someone who has been rear ended twice, I don't agree that drivers that follow me will necessarily slow down if I do. There are too many distracted and careless drivers.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

Matt, Matt, "In a choice between potentially hitting someone else or me getting hit...well, that's no choice at all". I am sure that you did not mean you would rather strike a pedestrian in a crosswalk than have someone rear end your vehicle. Although, that is what you said. No one needs to be hurt, look far enough down the road, slow down and the traffic behind you should do the same. I do agree that the pedestrians should take some responsibility, the city should put up driver friendly signals, Our leadership is clueless.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

furthermore, I have been scared to stop at these crosswalks because the cars behind me can't see the pedestrian, and are coming at me at full speed. In a choice between potentially hitting someone else or me getting hit...well, that's no choice at all.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

Eli Cooper is a Heiftje stooge - not a qualified traffic safety engineer.. He tends to parrot whatever the mayor wants (called job security). How about a comment from each "culpable" City Council member instead? Even those who don't respond or invoke "No Comment" when asked? And the increase in fender benders at crosswalks? Driver distraction? The burden of driver information processing skyrockets on congested streets. Perhaps UM and City density designers need a local law that will fix their agenda flaw. Making UMich pull its grossly overpopulated weight is a start. wouldn't City Council - UM employees agree?. Disbanding the DDA is THE progressive solution. Cell phones are just automated weapon triggers. Use RED lights instead? RED lights are heavily regulated devices under the law. They have to be "justified" by engineers. Installing a stop light requires expensive traffic flow studies, inter-light timing issues, etc. RED lights cannot be justified in overly-congested Ann Arbor. Given how many cars and crosswalks there are in this town, RED is OUT. Mayoral solution - Hey, YELLOW is now the IN color! And no more cars, some bike rentals, and a Big Boomerang to continue to justify all those other RED lights choking traffic around town. Has the CIty paid any "out of court settlement" or secured any "sealed judgement" as a result of their Crosswalk flaw? If the city is going to be sued, crosswalk victim's counselors have 90 days to do it. Stay tuned.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

This is a stupid ordinance. Putting these crosswalks in the middle of busy traffic is just asking for trouble. Simple solution: Make people cross the streets at major intersection only... just like we used to alway do.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

Tell us Radlib, where it will take a half an hour to do so? If there is such a place in A2, I counter that it will take just a few minutes for traffic to clear completely enough at such place that you could crawl across the traffic lanes.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

People should walk an extra half-hour on a round-trip to make it easier for you? Why, because you'r too lazy/impatient to stop?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Yellow would seem to be a poor color choice in a state where drivers accelerate for yellow signals. Drivers seem to be of the opinion that pedestrians' crossing of streets of 4 or 5 lanes should be forbidden -or- be limited to crossing at infrequent traffic lights only. Distance to/from the crossing point, icy sidewalks, oppressive heat, or driving rain mean nothing to the heated, a/c'd, entertained driver. People of that stripe should be condemned to pedesting for lengthy periods.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

"Cooper said the RRFBs have been working as advertised " You mean they blink? Yes, we get that. But are they SAFE? THAT is the question with the myriad different crosswalk designs. Also notice that no traffic engineers were quoted? Only a "project manager" and the "transportation director". No way they'll let the engineers speak to anyone.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Seems to me that this is about a lack of personal responsibility. If I am walking, My body is much more fragile than a car & it is MY job to make sure I don't step in front of a car. It is also the drivers responsibility to drive safely--- following the laws, the speed limit & watching for these crosswalks. I agree with what someone posted earlier, looking for these crosswalks makes for more distracted driving--- and to my mind, more accidents between pedestrian & cars correlates to implementation of this law. Cell phones have been a constant--this ordinance is what's new. And Ann Arbor does not have a stable pool of drivers--- every year we have an influx of students & their parents driving unfamiliar streets with an ordinance that doesn't match the rest of the state. Believe me, educating themselves on that isn't even on the list of what they need to learn about A2. I believe this should be repealed & we should go back to the State standard, adding bridges or extra lights at the spots that are particularly problematic. Issue jaywalking tickets & hold everyone accountable! This is a dangerous ordinance.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

But Karen, that makes sense.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Crono, you seem pretty interested in blaming Michigan for the frustration with pedestrians who cannot seem to follow any traffic rules, and equate "progressive" with "people walking out into traffic wherever". I'm from Seattle. We're pretty progressive there, right? We make you recycle everything or we won't collect your garbage, we require emissions testing on cars, we marry everyone, and we haven't supported a Republican for governor since the Reagan administration. Guess what? We also hand out citations for jaywalking. People wait on corners for the light to change. Pedestrians at the University of Washington appear to recognize that they are not the only commuters trying to get somewhere. Stop trying to equate "politically progressive" with "self-absorbed undergrad in Uggs crossing State without looking", and you might have a valid argument. This isn't about being "progressive", or Michigan's car culture. This is about the very basic truth that cars, pedestrians, and bicycles all have responsibilities and restrictions.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

This is the best comment I've seen on here.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1 p.m.

These crosswalks aren't flawed...they're stupid. What ever happened to the idea of crossing at an intersection?

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

You should also pull the stats for rear end collisions that have occurred at these walks when someone suddenly realizes they have to stop. I will bet these are up too. Ann Arbor probably never looked into any historical discussion when the state laws were passed or accidents prior to the passage of state traffic laws. The party that is going to suffer the greater damage upon contact is just going to have to be the party with the greatest level of circumspection. It will just always be that way.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:57 p.m.

I have seen a different system in other cities. Instead of the flashing light thing it's an actual stop light that flashes green unless a pedestrian pushed a button which makes the light turn red. Cars stop just like it's a red light. Seems like a better system because the pedestrian really does have the green light to cross while cars are actually stopped a red light. Could be a solution to the problem that could utilize existing crosswalks but just changing the type of light activated by the pedestrian.

Lynn Liston

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

Yes, this is the kind of crossing light I was thinking of. Once the pedestrian pushed the 'call button' the light would cycle through a reasonable time to stop traffic, cycle through a reasonable time for crossings, and then return to green so traffic could proceed. Pedestrians would have a brief wait time for the walk signal to cycle through, but they do now at intersections.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

The distracted-I-Don't-Care J-walking in front of the Michigan Union is getting worse. Start handing out tickets. And ticket more drivers for ignoring crosswalks. And the A2 practice of *warning* drivers when enforcement will begin is just stupid. Catch them, don't give them the chance to temporarily alter their behavior merely to avoid a ticket.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:24 p.m.

The Michigan Union is at an intersection. Even if there was a jaywalking law in Michigan they could not be ticketed. I have searched but can't find a jaywalking law.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:51 p.m. ticket the speeders!!!! Enforce the rules!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

There are many factors at work here, which lead to the current unsafe situation. The city's crosswalk ordinance creates an atmosphere of pedestrian empowerment, and driver confusion. The privatization of driver education has taken away the states uniform teaching materials, which educated kids as both drivers and soon-to-be adult pedestrians. We don't have the police staff to adequately enforce or educate about our new laws. And the era of the distracted pedestrian and driver is upon us. I think that there has been some improvement in the courtesy of drivers since this city program was out in place, but obviously this doesn't translate into safer streets. The first thing I do when approaching a pedestrian in or near the sidewalk is slow down and make eye contact with the person if possible, and the second thing I do is look in my mirror to see if it is safe to stop for them. This has to be taken into account by both parties. I support the efforts of those who are asking the city for an evaluation and possible suspension of the current non-uniform rules.

Nicholas Urfe

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Other communities have signs that say "STOP for pedestrian in crosswalk - State Law" Why don't we have those plastered across the town? They are cheap. Why aren't there large signs at the major entrances to the city with that same reminder?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

Do you not ever drive on North University?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

I believe that the ordinance is unconstitutional. Local municipalities do not have the authority to override the Michigan Uniform Traffic Code. Think of the chaos that would ensue if each town and suburb was able to pass it's own traffic laws. There is a reason that the MUTC is in place, and the ordinance will probably be struck down when someone takes the matter to court.

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

Unconstitutional or no, a savvy lawyer would extract a really nice deal out of any attempt to enforce the law as written. He would have no trouble finding expert testimony to prove the law contributes substantially to the risk to pedestrians.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:13 p.m.

It's also unconstitutional to strike a pedestrian with a car last I looked. Nothing unusual about telling drivers they have to stop before someone is in front of them. That is the definition of right of way. It is not chaos, just drivers who are feel above the law and don't significantly care about others.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Almost everybody who first experiences one of the trendy new Ann Arbor crosswalks is immediately struck by how dangerous they are. The few who don't notice are often hopelessly drunk.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

I am a pedestrian-friendly driver –– I don't have the angry, anti-Ann Arbor attitude that many posters here have –– but I am constantly amazed by pedestrian behavior. SO many people just step off the curb without breaking stride or looking. Anyone who looks up and makes eye contact with me will get a nod that says that I see them, and will honor their right-of-way. But what if I WAS a distracted driver in possession of a very lethal weapon? It just doesn't make sense to take such risks. And then there is the political-statement crowd, which don't use common sense, and wait for a bit of a break in the traffic. These folks will step right out in front of you just to force you to stop! I had an interesting experience when approaching Liberty on a side street, with a pedestrian walking in the same direction, a bit ahead of me. She continued straight, crossing Liberty, and I turned behind her. But when she heard me proceeding, she actually turned around, and stepped back over the yellow line, glaring at me. Being willing to die for your political beliefs can be a very admirable thing, but is pedestrian rights really a cause to be willing to die for?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:27 p.m.

Students don't get their brains until after graduation.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Susan Filipiak supports more stop lights as a solution. On the face of it, it sounds like a good solution. However, I see two things that speak against this being a total solution. First, I think drivers are becoming tired of stopping at so many lights. I think that explains, in part, the reason we see so many more lights being ignored. Second, just because there's a stoplight, does not mean that pedestrians will use them. I notice many crossing in the middle if the street not too far at all from a functioning signal.

Katherine Griswold

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:33 p.m.

"But, a city project manager said it's not clear the ordinance itself has had an impact on those numbers, especially since it wasn't enforced during its first two years." The ordinance enforcement is not the issue. The issue is the "Pedestrians Rule!" campaign, initiated when the ordinance was first passed in 2010, which gives pedestrians a false sense of power. The ordinance is not consistent with transportation engineering best practices and defies the laws of physics. The campaign includes distributing bookmarks in our public schools with slogans such as "Pedestrians Rule! In Ann Arbor Crosswalks" and lists all the awards Ann Arbor has won. It ignores the fact that the ordinance conflicts with the teaching of the AAA School Safety Patrol Program, which is focused on pedestrian safety not empowerment. It is time for an evaluation by an independent professional engineer with transportation safety expertise.

Leslie Morris

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I agree that the "Pedestrians Rule! campaign was unwise. The campaign that is needed is a driver education campaign on the Michigan state law protecting pedestrians in all crosswalks, including marked midblock crosswalks. This law is quoted by commenter KJMClark above. I am appalled at the number of people in Michigan who are ignorant of this state law, which of course did not change when the Ann Arbor city council decided to add to it with a local ordinance. A police campaign to enforce state law is badly needed.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Yes, once again city feel-good politics has gotten in the way of actually providing benefits to the people. I was appalled when I saw this bookmark come home with my daughter from school, and we had a nice family talk about the proper and safe way to cross the street, which is contrary to the city's 'Pedestrians Rule!' Sometimes I wonder who is thinking this stuff up? I know who votes to spend our tax dollars on it, but where do these ideas come from? Thanks for your efforts to have our dangerous program reviewed

Linda Peck

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Thank you, Kyle. Now we have the other viewpoint in contrast to Mrs Briere's comments the other day, which did not seem to be accurate to me. The picture does seem to point to certain factors such as the responsibility of City Council in designing these walkways and then the lack of enforcement. I would not like to see the City sued, but on the other hand I think such a suit might be justified.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:25 p.m.

I can still see City Council solemly discussing the new Ordinance before its passage and Rep. Briere saying how important it will be "for the little children" trying to cross the street. Politician aka Clueless Wordsmith.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:38 p.m.

This isn't a viewpoint. There isn't even a correlation proven. Another victim of misleading reporting. Sad.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

"However, Cawley said it's difficult for city traffic engineers to know where pedestrian-car crashes take place the most on the city's roadways." Why not? Where did the data for this article come from? I imagine that every pedestrian-car crash is reported to the police and thus city traffic engineers would have access to that information.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Hey be nice.... bicycle /pedestrian accidents are less easily tracked , there are fewer of them to calculate. Hmmmm just wondering are there any ped on ped accidents on record? Maybe the city traffic engineers are not able to request police data. Maybe that is why Ann Arbor traffic flows at a snails pace, they have no idea where to do traffic improvements.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

I found that one odd myself.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Human beings attempt to calculate risk intuitively, but we're really bad at it. Most people are fairly poor at judging time/speed/distance equations, and so pedestrians step out when they shouldn't and drivers go faster than they should. Additionally, pedestrians have been encouraged to assume that right-of-way in crosswalks mean they won't get hit. Drivers have been encouraged to assume that two tons of steel and exploding pillows mean they won't get injured in a crash. The current ordinance and crosswalk situation enhances the FALSE sense of security (therefore reduces PERCEPTION of risk) for both pedestrians and drivers. Nice try; truly disastrous result. Coordinate red lights to allow traffic to flow at or slightly below the speed limit, rather than make drivers feel penalized by red after red, therefore encouraging them to take greater risk (speed, run yellows, etc.). Put real red lights -- not flashy signals -- at pedestrian crossings, but make those lights coordinate in time with major intersections. It can be a win-win....

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Excellent suggestions...just want to add the term "enforcement" to your suggestions!!! It is the best education!

Bryan Lareau

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I've always thought that these low profile disco crosswalks were a half cooked solution. Most likely chosen for their lower cost then other systems. Other then what I am sure is additional cost, I don't understand why they didn't standardize on the HAWK system. They have one near the YMCA on Huron and it works perfectly. Even a driver who is half asleep, texting, and eating Egg McMuffin would have a difficult time ignoring it's signal.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

There's a lot of cost/benefit analysis implicit here. And far more than anecdotes can cover. What can we afford? What works? The lights on Plymouth cost $15k each. The HAWK on Huron cost $100k. A pedestrian bridge costs $1 million. How many crosswalks across 4-5 lane roads do we have? How far is reasonable / workable to direct a pedestrian to walk out of their way? (Implicitly, how many crosswalks do we need?) How many lights is reasonable / workable per mile? In addition, there are state laws preventing the addition of traffic lights on many of our roads. There's no magic solution that you can sum up in an Internet post.

David Frye

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

It would be nice if the headline related in some way to the contents of the article.

David Frye

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

It relates only in the sense that it is true, not in the sense that there is any correlation between the two parts of the headline. It would be just as accurate to write "Number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes up in Ann Arbor since Kagan joins Supreme Court" or "Number of pedestrian-vehicle crashes up in Ann Arbor since Estonia joins the euro." Correlation is not causation.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:36 p.m.

Kyle: It relates, but as you well know it implies that the two things are related and when one digs through the misleading presentation, it's clear that you can't make that connection. Put another way, it's misleading and inflammatory, though I'm sure it's generating the kind of page hits that your employer desires.. Whether or not it was intentional is between you and your maker, but to deny it has that affect is, hopefully, beneath you. Please do better.

Kyle Feldscher

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:07 p.m.

... The statistics in the story state that the number of crashes increased since 2010 when the pedestrian crosswalk ordinance was adopted. How does this not relate to the headline?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

"But, a city project manager said it's not clear the ordinance itself has had an impact on those numbers, especially since it wasn't enforced during its first two years." This cracks me up. We know full well that if the numbers had gone down following the ordinance, the city would be crowing about how the reduction proved the wisdom of the new law.

Blue Dog Red

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

Exactly. If the stats had gone the other way, the city would not hesitate to attribute full credit to the new crosswalks.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:24 p.m.

Quelle surprise

Lynn Liston

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

Thoughtful article, Kyle. I work as a corporate relocator and conduct frequent city tours for transferees, often traveling on Plymouth Road. I always give the traffic lesson about stopping for pedestrians at the crosswalks and relate the sad stories about the girls killed coming home from prayers at the mosque and now, Sharita. If we are lucky, we can practice stopping at the flashing lights and then I can listen my passengers' comments about the cars in the other lane who didn't bother to stop. Two observations: traffic on Plymouth Road has always been lawless. People speed, run reds, cut in and out, tailgate, and text/talk on their cellphones. It's been like this since I lived on the NE side back in the 90's. It's a bad place to drive let alone be a pedestrian. Jackson Road, in Scio, is getting to be just as bad. Second observation: the A2 spin on the pedestrian crossing law has made pedestrians too comfortable and trusting. You still need to stop, look both ways, and cross only when traffic is clear enough for you to cross safely. Flashing lights don't guarantee your safety, only common sense and a clear space in the traffic can do that. The crosswalks lights are not quite like the 'walk' cycle at an intersection. You just can't count on traffic stopping. I think that we need a pedestrian light cycle that mimics the yellow (prepare to stop), red (stop), green (go) sequence. We are conditioned to stop for red lights (most of us). Perhaps we just need to install normal stop lights whose cycle can be activated by the pedestrian. Like most of our existing intersections...

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

I try to stay off Plymouth Road. It's bad enough without me contributing to the problem.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Thank you Lynn you are absolutely correct in your observations. Plymouth road is a mess with the increase in commuter traffic and with the additional student apartments being built on the north side of Plymouth the problems will be compounded. There is simply no enforcement of the laws!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:15 p.m.

The city statistician isn't going to contradict what our city government wants. You can prove whatever you want with statistics by picking the right data set.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

The crosswalks are a really bad idea. I agree with many of the people who have posted, re: giving pedestrians a false sense of security. I too have witnessed a vehicle rear-ended when someone stopped short for a crossing. I hope they either make sure all of them have flashing lights or get rid of them, please!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Oh yeah, cross walks are a bad idea. Get in a car if you want to cross the road people. More entitlement issues I say. Damn pedestrians always thinking they have a right to roads. Go back in your houses people.

you can't handle the truth

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

This headline is the most predictable headline ever.

A Dexter Person

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:06 p.m.

Remember when our mothers taught us to look both ways before we crossed the street? And not to cross between parked cars? And when it was illegal to jay-walk? I drive through A2 and U of M campus frequently. I constantly see pedestrians walk right out into traffic without looking. Many seem color blind as they cross against the walk lights! Some don't even use the cross walk. I've seen students walk diagonally across an intersection! They're texting or looking at their i-pod or got ear buds in. Totally oblivious to what's going on around them. Heck, I've seen pedestrians walk right into a sign, another person or a parked car! I think pedestrians are more distracted than drivers! The responsibility of safety rests on BOTH motorist and pedestrian.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

Any pedestrian who walks right out into moving traffic in Ann Arbor without looking is a dead pedestrian. In Ann Arbor it's legal for pedestrians to cross against the walk light so long as they don't obstruct traffic.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

It's been this way since I've lived here - 66 years. I don't think that will change. Not that it's right.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Remember in driver's training when we were told that a yellow light means "Caution, slow down", that white lines mean "pedestrian crossing" and that the sign which says "Speed Limit" is the limit to which your car should be traveling?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

In a state full of aggressive drivers who appear to have a death wish each time they get behind the wheel, none of the comments on these articles are particularly surprising. At what point do we and drivers who see flashing yellow lights as an invitation to speed up through the crosswalk -- just like they do at every intersection in town? "I don't understand what those flashing yellow lights mean" is the most BS excuse out there. If high-intensity flashing lights don't indicate to you that you need to pay attention to SOMETHING then you're probably too stupid to possess a driver's license. Slow down. Stop tailgating. Drive defensively. Value your life and that of everyone else on the road. At what point are we going to wake up and deal with the fact that the aggressive driving culture here leads to increased crashes with other cars, pedestrians and bikers?

shadow wilson

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:09 a.m.

you have no credibility when you begin your post with such an inflammatory sentence...

Basic Bob

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

Considering your point, I think it's a bad idea to step off the curb without carefully observing the traffic first, just for self-preservation.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.


Craig Lounsbury

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

as a pedestrian I find it a bad idea to invoke my entitlement. I may be entitled to be in the road and force cars to stop for me but the ramifications of a car denying me my right of way is too big for me to risk. There is a risk/reward factor. Risk: permanent physical impairment or death. Reward: Get across the street a little faster. Someone would have to toss in some serious money on the reward side for me to consider the risk, however small.

John J Hubbard Jr

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

Somebody finally said it! There are signs at these new crosswalks that clearly state that the flashing lights are not going to make the cars stop. Use some commonsense and don't assume that the oncoming vehicle is going to stop.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

This really takes the cake for irresponsible journalism, particularly the headline. The short answer is there is no clear correlation. And, while there is some passing mention of increased traffic, there are no counts. Finally, note how the lowest number from years past is first contrasted to the highest number from the last two years for the most drama. Read the numbers closely and you see am increase of about 8 to 11. Crank the traffic counts in and you'll get a semi responsible number. That, of course, was too much work. Shameful.

Tom Teague

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:48 p.m.

With respect to Kyle, who is a good reporter, I wouldn't ago so far as to award this story the whole cake or call it shameful. But the statistical analysis is flawed and ignores -- as ordmad points out -- a host of variables that bear on accidents.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

@ Brad: I tried to respond and, in doing so, pointed out the financial incentive in gaining to more page hits. I guess that violates their rules. Shame again.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

and that load of garbage presented to city council last week was better? or worse?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

So did you do your own independent analysis to determine that there was no "clear" correlation? Or would that be too much work?

Jon Saalberg

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:38 a.m.

Great editorial in the new Car and Driver addresses the number one reason people get hit - driver distraction. With many drivers paying attention to everything but driving, it's no wonder more pedestrians aren't killed. I use the Stimson/Huron signal almost every day, and cars almost always blow through that signal when the "Walk" sign is on. And invariably, I see a person chatting away with a passenger, using a cell phone, or distracted in some way from the real task of driving. The Car & Driver editor calls for making the inside of a car a dead zone, and I am all for that - anything to keep the many, many people who think that they have to send or read a text, or otherwise mess with their phone, rather than focus on the road. Fines are inadequate. It is illegal to text and drive in Michigan, yet every day, I see many drivers texting and driving.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Car & Driver dissing the driver? Never. Unless... This is just a prelude article for a new series like - "Smart Cars From the Big Three and Why Everyone Needs One".

C'est la vie

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:32 p.m.

Fully agree about driver distractions being out of control. People just don't focus on driving anymore. The touch screens being put in new car dashes are very worrisome. I wonder if technology addicts can resist the temptation to fiddle with them instead of focusing on the road.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

"But, a city project manager said it's not clear the ordinance itself has had an impact on those numbers, especially since it wasn't enforced during its first two years." Statistics are for those who like to use them to support their arguments. Anyone who has driven the roads with these crosswalks intuitively know it is much more dangerous and adds a false sense of security to those who walk and don't look while increasing the things you have to keep an eye on as a driver. This was predicted and expected by many posters on this forum and many were against this. The government now decides what is best for us and how to protect us. We soon won't even know how to cross the street safely in this country without a light to tell us to go or stop................The good news is they will be narrowing most of the roads in this town creating gridlock so it will be almost impossible to get hit with any force if you are texting and walk in front of a car


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

ordmad you talking to Mike or the City Project Manager? Because you can bet if the stats showed things were safer the CPM would be quoting them as another city success.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

Or, put another way, facts mean nothing, just listen to me...


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

Any increase is more likely attributable to more pedestrian traffic than anything else. Besides, they haven't really done any enforcement but a few sting operations a few years ago. You're trying to change an ingrained SE Michigan prejudice that motorists always have right of way and pedestrians are only allowed to cross at lights. It's either going to take a decade or some actual police enforcement to change that. Personally, I hope they drop our crosswalk and bike lane ordinances. Then we'll be using Michigan Uniform Traffic Code (UTC), which we've already adopted, and motorists will *still* have to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, since that's what UTC says (which, BTW, is what national Uniform Vehicle Code says). And then it will be a misdemeanor (up to 90 days in jail) for motorists to drive in bike lanes, and maybe the police will actually enforce that ordinance for a change.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

"Pedestrians just came out of the woodwork" - um no, people have been taking more trips by walking than before. This is a pretty well-known effect in traffic engineering. If you increase capacity, you'll get induced demand. Or, more likely, you'll get more realized demand that was suppressed by the lack of capacity. Same thing works in reverse - studies have been done where bridges closed for repairs, and traffic counts in the alternate routes found that a percentage of the traffic just disappeared. It didn't shift to other routes. Trips that would have been taken weren't worth dealing with the congestion. So, yes, make it easier for people to walk in a place with lots of suppressed demand, and you'll get more walking trips.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

justcurious - go back and check. Your memory is faulty. I'm *very* in favor of pedestrians having right of way in a crosswalk and ***enforcement*** of that. On the ordinance, I'd rather they deviate as little as possible from UTC, since it's not bad. They tried to move to the ordinance language used in more pro-pedestrian parts of the country, which is not a bad thing, but I'd rather we stick with the uniform version for now and ***strictly enforce that***.

Stuart Brown

Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:21 a.m.

"Any increase is more likely attributable to more pedestrian traffic than anything else." So, pedestrians just came out of the woodwork when the law went into effect? Not likely, the most obvious explanation is that pedestrian safety was degraded by passage of the new law.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

UVC § 11- 502(b) Pedestrians' right of way in crosswalks [Pedestrian can't suddenly leave curb] No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. Except in A squared - the "hazard" has been disappeared by local law. We don't need no uniform nothing in our shady little tree town. See?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

@justcurious. Clearly not. Evidently KJMClark feels that pedistrian traffic went up by 1/3 after the passing of the new law. It really got folk a-walkin' that for sure!! "Any increase is more likely attributable to more pedestrian traffic than anything else" ^^^^^^^ Now THAT'S funny.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

As I recall you were the most outspoken pro-ponent of the new crosswalk laws. Changed your mind?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

National Uniform Vehicle Code: "UVC § 11- 502(a) Pedestrians' right of way in crosswalks [Yield to pedestrian in crosswalk] When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. UVC § 11- 502(d) Pedestrians' right of way in crosswalks [Vehicle from rear does not pass stopped vehicle] Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle."


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

Michigan Uniform Traffic Code: R 28.1702 Rule 702. Pedestrians; right-of-way in crosswalk; violation as civil infraction. (1) When traffic-control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger, but a pedestrian shall not suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into a path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield. (2) A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction. R 28.1703 Rule 703. Passing vehicle stopped at intersection to permit pedestrian to cross prohibited; violation as civil infraction. (1) When any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass the stopped vehicle. (2) A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction."


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:28 a.m.

Anecdotally speaking, one could make the argument that pedestrian deaths due to vehicle collisions have gone up inline with the adoption of smartphones.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 2:18 a.m.

Same could be said of texting pedestrians.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Exactly. While I think the crosswalk ordinance is stupid and certainly contributes to the number of car/pedestrian incidents, I believe the far more serious issue here is distracted driving. PUT DOWN the phones, people. Please don't text and drive, and if you can't concentrate on the road while talking on your phone, please don't do that either. We all managed to get through the day just fine back in the pre-cell phone days. There is absolutely nothing that's so important it can't wait until you get to your destination, or at least until you have a chance to pull over. If you have not yet seen Werner Herzog's powerful documentary on texting and driving, "From One Second To The Next," make a point to carve 35 minutes out of your day and see it.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

"However, Cooper said he recognizes that city officials need to make sure the public is educated about crosswalks in Ann Arbor." Aaargghh! If you install crosswalks that require efforts to 'educate the public' the effort is doomed to fail! That's because 'the public' driving on our streets will always include both visitors and new arrivals (who show up by the thousands every year). The idea that we can have crosswalks that are unfamiliar to people not from Ann Arbor and that these crosswalks can be made safe by public education campaigns is just nuts. The 'hawk' crosswalks need to be either A) Removed or B) Turned into standard button-activated traffic lights. And this needs to be done immediately -- before somebody else gets killed.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

The Plymouth lights are yellow RRFBs. The (only?) HAWK is a red light on Huron by the Y. I once thought red lights were a logical solution only to find they require expesnive traffic flow "justification". Which is unlikely to be granted in this congested town.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:45 p.m.

"Add a red light to the crosswalk then - - will that help?" Absolutely! All drivers -- whether they are from Ann Arbor or not -- are familiar with standard traffic lights, but all drivers are not familiar with the signals at the HAWK crosswalks. Not only are the signals non-standard, but having mid-block crosswalks on high-speed, multi-lane roadways (that are not protected by standard traffic lights) is also unusual and unexpected. "So when someone from Ohio comes to Michigan and breaks the law, they should be given an out because they are "unfamiliar" with Michigan law?" It's not about giving drivers an out, it's about keeping pedestrians from getting run over and killed. Prosecuting drivers after the fact for failure to study up and obey our idiosyncratic traffic regulations isn't going to bring anybody back from the dead.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

So when someone from Ohio comes to Michigan and breaks the law, they should be given an out because they are "unfamiliar" with Michigan law? Or how about a German comes to the US and breaks a law here that isn't illegal in Germany: they should be given an out too? Your logic doesn't make sense. If someone is not from Ann Arbor and comes here and breaks the law, they should be dealt with like anybody else would be. Stop giving excuses to people who choose not to pay attention and drive recklessly.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Add a red light to the crosswalk then - - will that help?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:54 p.m.

NE Steward, no it doesn't, but neither does the new law ensure pedestrians can walk right out into traffic. Nevertheless, they do. The point is, this AA law is misguided.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

'hawk' misapplied by mw ?

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

Just because they are from "out of town" does not give them the excuse to violate the laws of our city and state! What right do they have to speed through our streets?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

I drive on Plymouth Rd every day at all hours. Since the last fatal accident I have witness four pedestrians this past 2 weeks alone in the middle of the crosswalk almost run down by drivers not stopping or unaware of the meaning of the flashing lights. I have had drivers pass me while I'm stopped, and have almost been rear ended numerous times. I will never walk in these crosswalks...not with distracted, speeding, misinformed drivers oblivious to what a crosswalk with flashing lights means. Slow down when approaching these crosswalks whether flashing or not. In a few weeks the pedestrian traffic will triple when the students on North Campus are back. Everyone please pay attention.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

Yes, Brad, let's increase the speed limit on a local roadway with a high amount of pedestrian traffic. That makes a ton of sense. This is another example of state law that needs to change. It is WAY too dependent on people driving illegally and unsafely on local roads. How does it make sense that since a majority of people are breaking the law, that the law should be changed to adapt to the law-breaking? How about we get more police officers out on Plymouth Rd ticketing every single driver who doesn't obey the law??


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

I walk in the crosswalks all the time. I stop, look, listen and wait until traffic stops in both lanes, then I cross. I haven't been hit yet. I would have been hit numerous times had I just pushed the button and went.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

If less than 10% observe the limit it's probably wrong.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:26 p.m.

Enforce the speed limits....driving on Plymouth every day I would guess that less than 10% follow the speed limits


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

Being on both side as a driver and a pedestrian, I can also attest to the faults of this ordinance. Often I'll be at the corner (looking both ways as taught when I was a child) and have one person stop and look up the street to see a car racing with obviously no intention of stopping (bad visibility for them to see me) meanwhile I see another car fast approaching the stopped car. I've taken to hanging back from a corner, and waiting for an opportunity to cross - safely. People complain about distracted drivers - this 'law' is a huge distraction - divers are expected to scan sidewalks and determine if someone is intending to cross. Now ... Flip side - I ride a motorcycle - am I really going to stop when there's no one IN a crosswalk, just standing on a corner, texting, talking on the phone etc, and risk being rear ended? No, because the result would be horrendous for me. Limit crosswalks to intersection WITH PROPER LIGHTS. Plymouth road is dotted every 500 feet with an insane crosswalk with flashing YELLOW lights (last I heard flashing yellow means proceed with caution, not stop). As a pedestrian you would have to be nuts to think that's going to hold up 4 lanes of traffic with a huge amount of distractions (entries/exits to shopping areas,gas stations etc). Stick with a universal law of when someone is IN A CROSSWALK, stop. And do away with the jaywalker crossings - stick with proper intersection and proper traffic control lights.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

Great post. But one thing I know about Ann Arbor (having been born and lived here all of my life) is that jaywalking is an ingrained institution. It always has been and always will be. Perhaps it has to do with it being a college town. I'm not saying it is right. Just that it seems to be here to stay.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:52 p.m.



Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

This is so true about "scanning the corner to see if someone is about to cross" being a distraction. I certainly feel that way, and have also struggled with "do I have enough time to stop?" when I see the pedestrian. At least half the time I do a quick rear-view mirror check first...


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

Has the city installed any new cross walks since 2010? I''m not asking about the upgrades to existing crosswalks with signals or other safety measures, but installed new ones.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:36 p.m.

numerous on Stadium and many others around town.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.



Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.


Eduard Copely

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

This pedestrian safety ordinance and accompanying rectangular flashing yellow (disco lights) constitute a major change that many drivers (and pedestrians) are simply unfamiliar with; case in point all of the accidents and fatalities thus far. Clearly, not enough has been done to educate the general public about the new ordinance and what was supposed to prevent collisions is now part of the problem. The goofed again and this time it's costing lives. Our condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones due to this safety ordinance.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Which is all the more reason to make sure Michigan law is changed to adapt. It is obvious that our laws are flawed in this state if the motoring public thinks that they have the right-of-way on the roadways of Michigan. It doesn't help that the automobile was created here, so people feel a special connection to the personal auto, but it should not make people feel entitled. Ann Arbor is trying to make things "normal" but much of the motoring public just doesn't get it.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

Yes, but every year parents drive to orientations, move ins, etc. Patients drive to the health system from all over the state. Visitors drive to attend countless events... Education will never reach everyone. As long as pedestrians are not as careful as they were before the law was passed, the accident rate will remain high.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

The "universal laws" say you have to stop for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk, and you can't pass a car stopped for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:21 a.m.

You can educate Ann arborites, but how are you going to educate every single person that is not from here? Stick with universal laws, this ordinance is poorly thought (or lack of thought) out.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

I guess this proves that the laws of physics just can't be trumped by local ordinance. Who knew?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

"The driver who killed Sharita Williams was violating Michigan state law." I missed it. When was the trial and what was she charged with?

Robert Hughes

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Gee, I thought the laws of physics included brakes and steering.

Leslie Morris

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

When a driver hits a pedestrian in any crosswalk, including a marked mid-block crosswalk, this driver is violating state law, not merely our local ordinance. The driver who killed Sharita Williams was violating Michigan state law.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:08 a.m.

The sense of security with the crosswalks and signials is only provided to the City and not the pedestrian. The city says we did our job, and now it is up to the drivers and pedestrians to follow the law. Trouble is often the drivers do not follow the law, but the pedestrians pay the price. It is like the autobile insurers saying if you forgot to lock your car and it is stolen it is your fault. The culture in most of the country is that drives ignore pedestrian crosswalks.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:22 p.m.

For StLouisgirl and Leslie, I have seen that too in CA years back but the difference it that is the standard of the entire state. Michigan does not have that standard, and A2 is put in place a practice people are just not conditioned to follow.

Leslie Morris

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

That should have been Stlouisgurl. Sorry about the mistake.

Leslie Morris

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Stlouiegirl, I just returned from nine days in Portland, Oregon and was amazed to see that every driver stopped if there was a pedestrian waiting at a curb to cross. I looked up the state law for pedestrians in Oregon, and found that it was almost the same as Michigan law, that is, drivers must stop for pedestrians IN crosswalks. I was unable to find any local ordinance that added the requirement for drivers to stop for pedestrians waiting on the curb to cross. What is clearly different is driver behavior. Michigan drivers are simply less courteous (and less law-abiding) than drivers in some other parts of the country.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

Crono is correct. I lived for years in Berkeley, California which is comparable to AA in terms of size and student population. The driving culture there is completely different than in AA. Drivers there are much more courteous and always stopped for anyone (student or "normal" person) in pedestrian crossings in my experience. In fact when I moved to AA I was shocked at the difference in attitude. Southeast Michigan generally seems to have a culture of very aggressive driving and I am not sure why.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

So you are willing to make my driving "more difficult" because you think all car drivers have a sense of "entitlement"? Thanks.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:53 a.m.

That's usually what I see occur in Ann Arbor as well. I'll see the blinking lights and the pedestrian and will slow down but people in the other lane or even behind me are not paying attention and pass me, almost hitting the pedestrian. This is what happens in an automobile-centric State where people are not taught to yield to pedestrians. In my honest opinion, there need to be further attempts at making driving more difficult in Ann Arbor so that people realize that just because they choose to own a car, does not make them entitled to special rules.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

For a high-density pedestrian use, UM certainly got it right with its pedestrian bridge across five lanes of Washtenaw. This walkway, north of Washtenaw and Geddes, connects central campus with multiple dorms and the medical campus. This type of bridge seems expensive only until compared to loss of human life. Condolences to the families of Ms Williams, Ms Filipiak, and the woman hit on Washtenaw (5 lanes, 45 mph, poor visibility) near Platt.


Fri, Aug 23, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

The bridge belongs to UM not the city. That's why more are not up around the area.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

in response to MA2 Getting to the bridge is a breeze...It is connected level with the street/sidewalk on the West side (near the Museum & Dental School), and once across the roadway you can go straight to a level sidewalk or you can choose to use the stairs down to the field/tennis courts below.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:20 p.m.

I would say MA2, that even for disabled pedestrians it is better than crossing the street at that location.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Doesn't this make it quite difficult for disabled pedestrians?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Cars will always be at fault and bear full responsibility for their actions, but AA city leadership have emboldened pedestrians. They now feel invincible. Many do not care if cars are coming fast; they have the right, according to city leadership, to walk out into traffic. Maybe the data is showing city leadership that they have selected the wrong solutions to protect pedestrians. I have said it before and will say it again that I have observed no less than 3 police cars turn a corner when a pedestrian was already in the cross walk. Go figure!

Paul the Malcontent

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

@Crono - IN RE: car vs. pedestrian, the car (& even more so, the driver) IS invincible. It isn't a sense of entitlement, it's the laws of physics. Perhaps you meant drivers shouldn't have a sense of superiority over pedestrians; a laudable concept, but one that may be difficult to achieve, especially by implementing policies based more on political philosophy (i.e., complete streets) than on sound traffic engineering (and yes, that includes ALL forms of traffic, which HAS been neglected in the past).


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

That same thing you said is exactly true in most every other location in the State of Michigan. Why should cars be so entitled to think that they are invincible and that everybody else on the roadway should watch out for them? This type of attitude is what you can expect from people when a progressive city makes attempts to create Complete Streets. Whenever anybody attempts to interfere with automobile driving in Michigan, the public goes crazy....


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

These crosswalks are an awful idea. Add STOP lights or overpasses, or go back to the standard everyone was taught in drivers education. Everyone knows pedestrians have the right away when they can be CLEARLY seen walking. To stick a walker out of Plymouth Road in the middle of traffic with the persuasion of blinking light "safety" is wrong. Ms. Williams probably would be alive today without this newly designed crosswalk that a majority of drivers have no idea what the rule would be.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Pedestrians should NOT have the right away. More stupid ideas that give a person on foot the false sense of security that they are safe walking out in front of cars. When you make laws that apply only in the city of Ann Arbor that are contrary to state laws then people are going to get hurt. Everywhere else in this state, from the earliest age, people are taught to cross when it is CLEAR. Use a crosswalk and follow the lights. White walking dude means go, red flashing hand means stop. Why must Ann Arbor try to re-engineer common sense?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:19 p.m.

Stop lights require expensive traffic flow analysis, engineering, and legal "justification". Ann Arbor would add hundreds of red lights if it were possible. It isn't.

Jaime Magiera

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Stop lights are needed. Pedestrian overpasses are not accessible, they are expensive and quite frankly, we should give pedestrians the right-of-way.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

@ cant read that until you are coming up on it at full speed. The signs you are touting are the stupidest part of the whole setup.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:47 a.m.

Maybe a large sign that reads "STOP FOR PEDESTRIANS IN CROSSWALK"? Which are already in most mid-block crossings....


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

Not too much of a surprise, sadly. I strongly expected this bad news. This is because when you instill a false sense of security and dangerous presumptions in pedestrians, and all but encourage them to never break their stride or actually look to see if it is safe to cross, you are courting trouble. And to assume it is simply due to speed demons, distracted drivers and other easily-vilified categories is dangerous in itself because you are "rallying the troops", so to speak, without gathering actual facts as to why we are getting the result we are getting, obviating actual safety measures. Additionally, it would further help the situation if the signals were no longer timed to make all drivers stop at each one, thereby racing so as to get to the next signal before it turns red. In fact, here's an idea: time them so that if you go too FAST, you'll catch the end of the red!

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Change the yellow lights on the crosswalks to red and punish the speeders. Plymouth Road is not an expressway. We have several schools and a university to support off of Plymouth.

Just A Citizen

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

I agree with DiagSquirrel - I've been around these (on both sides) enough to know it's inherently flawed. Good intentions, but when executed it has the opposite effect. The worst situation is when there are crosswalks without the lights. I've had pedestrians step out before looking and when there is poor visibility (e.g., a truck stopped in left hand lane to turn left blocking them). Pedestrians have a false sense of security & they need to be better educated (along with drivers).


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:43 p.m.

I walk to and from work regularly. There is no doubt in my mind that the new law increased accidents. I cannot count the number of times people in front of me stepped out in the crosswalk without ensuring cars would stop. After near accidents, pedestrians would make it clear to drivers that they had the right of way. If we could ensure that all drivers in our city were not visiting from another Michigan city or from out of state, then driver education might help, but we cannot. I agree with 'Just a Citizen' - pedestrians now have a false sense of security. Thanks city gov't, the law was well intention-ed, but misguided.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

As a motorist, the "poor visibility" issue concerns me the most. There have been several times in the last few months when i've had "too close" a call for a pedestrian interaction because I couldn't see the pedestrian. I'm not using a cell phone, either, for those of you who wonder. I try my best not to be a distracted driver. The most scary situations have been times when a car was slowing down to stop to the right of me to let a pedestrian pass, but I'm just oriented so I can't see that someone just stepped out from the corner into the crosswalk. If this is an issue for me, an Ann Arbor resident, how much more of an issue is this for an out of town resident who isn't familiar with our "new" pedestrian law?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:03 p.m.

I disagree with Crono and NE Steward -- there have been many times I've had individuals walk right out in front of me with total disregard especially in the campus area and downtown. The false security that the crossing lines (especially the unlighted ones) just does not work -- folks see it and think they can just walk across. For walkers I say - stop, look and listen before you cross the street - words most mothers taught their children. For drivers, I say always be aware of your surroundings because one never knows what might pop up in front of you.

NE Steward

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:13 p.m.

I agree Crono.... The best education for the commuters that violate our posted speed limits is punishment. Enforce the laws. Very few commuters on Plymouth Road follow the posted speed limits. Set up some major speed traps…this would be the best education for the violators who do not care or are too selfish to follow the posted speed limits in our neighborhoods and city!


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:45 a.m.

I would say first and foremost that driver's need to be educated first. This whole "blaming the victim" thing is getting quite annoying. When it's obvious who the culprit is, the culprit needs to take responsibility and adjust their actions. So many motorists in Ann Arbor are in such a mad rush to leave the city, that they often are unconcerned about paying attention to anything happening around them.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:37 a.m.

Any time a local government does something that is non-standard, it takes a long time to educate people about it with a campaign to get the word out. It does not matter if it is a leash law for cats, or non-standard crossing rules. The city council passed rules, but did not educate the local population about them. Tens of thousands of people who don't live inside the city limits visit Ann Arbor weekly and a large part of the city population turns over each year. Without a strong and on-going education campaign it will be difficult to make these non-standard rules and crossings work and be safe. Once the school year starts I try to avoid driving near central campus, because so few students seem to follow any traffic rules, the simple rule downtown is "there are more of us, then there are of you (walkers vs drivers) so we rule. Without education of the people coming and going in Ann Arbor, the city is far better off putting in standard signals, and enforcing state law. They would also do well to issue a few hundred jay-walking tickets in the first couple of days of school, to let the students know that laws apply to them too. This is about enforcing safety for everyone.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

I agree with DonBee and have made the point several times that local govt should not (they should not be allowed to) pass an ordinance contrary to existing state law. It is simply too confusing and unfair to the public. Around the time the texting ban came out, Troy bumped it up to "distracted" driving, meaning a police officer can ticket you for anything s/he sees as distracting. UM passed a no gun ordinance on campus contrary to state law. At least the state should make them post ad nauseum so much signage there is no question some ridiculous ordinance is in effect. And remember Ann Arbor is not a small town out in the boondocks, lots of people come here for events and should not have to suffer from the social agenda attitude of the local govt.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:59 p.m.

DonBee - I agree that the city has done a miserable job at "getting the word out" about pedestrian crossing law in Ann Arbor. The city has also made it more confusing for everyone--walkers and drivers--with different signs and signals around town. Also the white stripes that designate a section of road as a crosswalk are worn off on most of Ann Arbor's streets.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:24 p.m.

My understanding is that during orientation, when walking around campus/town, those that are leading these tell the students that walking out in the middle of the block is fine and no need to worry. When (kids) freshmen are informed of this they take full advantage of it. (This was told to me by a freshman that had just gone thru orientation and had lived here all their life). I was dumbfounded, who in their right mind would go against everything ever taught about crossing a street? Out the window with common sense and in with 'I'm entitled'?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:35 p.m.

You had me at leash law for cats.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:53 p.m.

Crono - I don't want anyone hurt, I feel for the people walking, but there are (really there are) laws about how one should approach crosswalks for both groups. NO group should be privileged, and everyone should be aware of their surroundings. No one should be allowed to violate the law, either walkers or drivers, the rules are there for the safety of everyone. Teaching people, both drivers and walkers to pay attention, will mean more people are OK, and there are fewer close calls, or accidents. Keeping to the standard state laws and signage means there are fewer mis-understandings for everyone. Doing something different means heavy education. Which does not happen in Ann Arbor and really does not happen for the thousands of people who occasionally partake of the city. We pride ourselves on being a center of education, yet we let this area slide.

Martha Andrews-Schmidt

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

I have lived in Ann Arbor since 1967, and the issue of student pedestrians mentioned above has not changed. A case in point is the area on State. St. In front of the Michigan Union. Chatting with each other and on cell phones, waves of walkers oblivious to automobile pour into the street. Rarely do I see anyone turn their head to look for cars.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Excellent post.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

DonBee, this same thing plays out ("there are more of us then there are of you rule") in most suburban locations across Michigan, except the opposite is true. In most places, pedestrians feel as though they are being targeted by motorists because the car-driving public simply does not watch for pedestrians in most areas of Michigan. Therefore, when those people drive into Ann Arbor, they are not "trained" to watch for them. It doesn't help that driver's education programs do not place a great emphasis on watching for pedestrians in Michigan. That's what happens when a progressive city tries to make things easier for the little guy but the prevailing attitude in Michigan still triumphs.

Jim Mulchay

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:22 a.m.

For the various incidents, is there any analysis of why they occurred? Such as distracted driving, impaired driver, bad weather (?), unlicensed / suspended license driver. excessive speed, etc? Also how many incidents resulted in legal action (court, arrest and such).


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

Deb, distracted walkers don't kilo anytime, and aren't operating a machine they've agreed to operate responsibly.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 9:56 p.m.

just saying there is distracted walking also . . .

Vince Caruso

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Check cell phone log/use for text or talk?


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 10:20 a.m.

Excellent article. I have driven through enough of these, and walked through enough of these, to see their inherent flaws firsthand. They sometimes go off or stay on without any pedestrians nearby. They also give some pedestrians a false sense of security, when they need to pay closer attention to the traffic around them.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:11 p.m.

Crono, you sort of have it right, except you left off one thing, pedestrians have the right of way, but only once they are in a crosswalk or on the roadway. Ann Arbor's ordinance's problem is that it is contrary to that and extended it to any pedestrian about to enter. It did have approaching a crosswalk, not sure if that was taken out as it should be.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

Chrono - Michigan law says pedestrians only have the right-of-way at intersections and crosswalks. "Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway."


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 4:37 p.m.

Fender66, you are obviously misinformed. Cars DO NOT have the right-of-way on roadways. Pedestrians do. You must always yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. The ONLY reason this is such a big deal in Ann Arbor is because they have a very strange phenomenon at work here: people actually get OUTSIDE of their cars to get around, unlike many who only know how to drive a car (barely) from every single place they need to get to.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

@Fender66 As opposed to the entitlement mentality that many drivers have when they approach one of these crosswalks when the lights are flashing and a pedestrian is standing on the curb? I always approach those things with my foot off the gas looking for potential pedestrians. Many times, I've seen a pedestrian hit the button to activate the light and while I'll stop, I see cars whiz by me before the pedestrian can enter the crosswalk. It happened again Tuesday night and when I caught up to the car at the next light, the young woman was gabbing away on her cell phone.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 1:53 p.m.

EXCELLENT post Fender! This hit the nail right on the head. A2 has a perpetual problem with this...and applies to all aspects of A2, not just crosswalks. It is very easy to spot the most logical and accurate posts on, because they're the ones with the most votes DOWN. Point proven.


Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:18 p.m.

It's not only a false sense of security, it's sense of entitlement that so many people have in this town. "Oh, I'm a UM student/faculty member, so I can just cross the street wherever and whenever it's convenient for me". That's the mentality that has been fostered in Ann Arbor for years, and it's the primary reason for the increase in pedestrian-vehicle crashes. The cross-walks simply perpetuate that mentality. Simply put, motor vehicles have the right of way on roads and streets, so if you would like to cross, wait for the traffic to clear or walk down to a traffic light and cross there. Isn't that what mom and dad taught us as kids? It's just common sense! The expectation that thousands of cars will stop for you just because you want to cross the street wherever/whenever you want is way off base.