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Posted on Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in Ann Arbor are downtown, council member says

By Ryan J. Stanton

The recent death of a University of Michigan student who was struck by a car in a crosswalk on Plymouth Road continues to raise questions about pedestrian safety in Ann Arbor.

City Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said it's a tragic situation. She took the opportunity at Monday night's council meeting to add some facts and statistics to the broader discussion, including crash data revealing some of the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians.

Most accidents between pedestrians and cars are downtown at a stop light or stop sign, Briere said, and most of the time the driver simply didn't see the pedestrian who was legally in the crosswalk.

"So, if you are a pedestrian, dangerous intersections include most of those on Huron — at State, Division, Fifth, Fourth and Main," she said.

Below is the full text of Briere's statement.

Many of us have been concerned about pedestrian safety at crosswalks. This is especially so after the recent tragic fatality on Plymouth Road.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, at a recent council meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Some members of the community have suggested that all mid-block crosswalks should be removed; some have faulted pedestrians for darting out into traffic before cars have stopped.

Last night a former council member (Leslie Morris) came to caucus to discuss pedestrian safety and crosswalk laws. She had taken the time to look up state laws on crosswalks and pedestrian rights-of-way, and she asked that I speak to the issue.

Thanks to the help of another person who had already acquired the data on pedestrian/car accidents between 2004 and 2012, I want to share some information with the public and the council.

First, the law. Michigan adopted the Uniform Traffic Code in 2003; the city preliminarily adopted it in 2010, and adopted it in its entirety in January 2011. The pedestrian's rights and duties section contain three important rules — and violation of these rules is a civil infraction.

First, pedestrians who are in a crosswalk that doesn't have any traffic control signal have the right-of-way. They're in the crosswalk. Drivers shall yield to these pedestrians.

Second, pedestrians who use a crosswalk that does have a signal must use those signals. But if they are in a crosswalk, drivers shall yield to these pedestrians.

Third, when any vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk — marked or unmarked, with or without a signal — in order to let a pedestrian cross the roadway, drivers of other vehicles approaching from the rear may not pass the stopped vehicle.

And how many accidents have involved the lighted crosswalks with flashing yellow lights on Plymouth Road? Two, counting the most recent.

How many on Stadium? One since the city installed new crosswalks.

Out of 438 accidents between cars and pedestrians, only 7 occurred on Plymouth, and 5 of those were either before the new traffic code took effect or were at crosswalks with red light signals.

While 11 pedestrians were hit on Stadium, 10 of these occurred between 2004 and 2010, which is before crosswalks went in — those lighted crosswalks.

Although the number of accidents has increased in the past couple of years, that increase is reflected in a set of startling facts: most accidents occur in the autumn when visibility decreases and new people move into our community.

But don't assume that this increase is due to unfamiliar traffic laws, however — it's been the pattern since 2004. And most accidents between pedestrians and cars are downtown, and at a stop light or stop sign. Most of the time, the driver simply didn't see the pedestrian who was legally in the crosswalk and following the law.

So, if you are a pedestrian, dangerous intersections include most of those on Huron — at State, Division, Fifth, Fourth and Main.

Crossing the street on Liberty can also be an issue; multiple accidents have occurred at each intersection between State and Main. Crossing State at South University is really a problem. All of these intersections have lights and clearly marked crosswalks.

Driver inattention is a great risk if you are walking or riding your bike, so please pay attention. And if you are driving, please be careful.

Briere also provided these information links:

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



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

I drove to UM main campus everyday, using either SForest, Church, or Bell tower parking structure, so lots driving around the Dia. For myself, when I walk out for lunch or coffee and am about to cross a street, I stop and look out first, sometimes give a thanks gesture to the driver stopped for me. So when I am behind the wheel, I wish I could expect the same. It is not always this nice or even annoying. Some pedestrians(students most perhaps) really do NOT take any caution or make any contact with drivers, worse case with their eyes stick to their smart phone(or dumb phone here) while crossing. I can not understand why they think(or behave like) that their right of way is always guaranteed. The argument should be very simple: If you were hit by a car, you may win a lawsuit, but it is you that would physically suffer, so take caution for yourself first.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

I wish someone at UMTRI ( U of M Transportation Research Institute) would weigh in here. They are indeed the professionals in this area.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 1:28 a.m.

I have been scared out of my mind three times; all the same situation. I was driving on a multi-lane road (Plymouth, Stadium, Huron Parkway) and saw a pedestrian ahead at a crosswalk. I easily slowed down and stopped. Then as the pedestrian started crossing in front of my car another car approached from behind, changed lanes and passed, nearly hitting the pedestrian. Once the other driver honked and angrily gestured as he went by. I hate these locations because I feel I put pedestrians in danger by stopping for them and don't trust approaching traffic to understand why I have stopped. I am sadly not at all surprised about this fatality. We love ideal, but should settle for practical safety here. Eliminate the multi-lane pedestrian crossings on the faster roads.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:41 a.m.

Let me clarify ....I would slam on my brakes if someone stepped out in front of me....however if they are approaching the crosswalk and hit the button ....I do not /will not slam on my brakes withought a safe distance to do so and withought being aware of the traffic behind me.....I have seen way to many people rear ended cause they had to slam on they brakes


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:33 a.m.

Thank you for sharing that ....exactly my point ..... we have to be aware of our surroundings ....meaning just cause I stop my car at a crosswalk does not mean that the person next to me as you have pointed out ....or behind I earlier pointed out doesn't mean others will stop .....this creates an unsafe situation for both motorist and pedestrian ...people are so quick to blame the motorists ....the pedestrian ...the city ....the laws ....when is common sense gonna come back into play?....I for one will not walk in front of a speeding vehicle ....nor will I slam on my brakes for someone who doess and get rear ended ...this is the real world where common sense ...the laws of physics and human nature override stupid laws and stupid people ....ill stop there

Linda Peck

Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

Ryan, you come across as a political supporter of Mrs. Briere. No problem with that, I just made a note of it.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

Thank you Vivienne Armentrout for pointing out this data: I would like to thank for supplying it, since we have only been asking about it for a week or so, but.......yep. So here is the data, pulled from a bar graph (so it may be off by one or two/year. 2004 42 2005 43 2006 37 2007 50 2008 50 2009 41 2010 42 Pedestrian Ordinance Approved in July 2010 2011 62 2012 60 So.....I wouldn't call this a ummmm resounding success. Can politicians be charged with gross negligence?

Jim Walker

Thu, Aug 22, 2013 : 12:49 a.m.

A high percentage of the things that create real traffic safety improvements are quite counter-intuitive, something Ann Arbor officials and many citizens find impossible to understand. The engineers in the Project Management group and the City Attorney could help educate the public and the officials to the realities, but they refuse to do so. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 12:41 a.m.

Sorry, this may be a little clearer. Year AA Ped Accidents each year 2004...............42 2005...............43 2006...............37 2007...............50 2008...............50 2009...............41 2010...............42 Pedestrian Ordinance Approved in July 2010 2011...............62 2012...............60


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

This article is misleading states that there have been only two accidents at the Plymouth rd crosswalks .....this is not true ...having lived and workers on that side of town for over a decade I can attest to seeing at least a dozen accidents at the new crosswalks ....mainly involving rear end accidents involving motorist who obey the law and stop ...and the motorist behind rear ending them .....this article gives no mention of that .. I am both a driver and bicyclelist on that side of town ....and when i am driving in my car not only do I have to watch for pedestrians including jaywalkers ...but i have to look in my rear view mirror to make sure the guy behind me is doing the same so i don't get rear ended......... also when i am on my bike and approach the crosswalk I do the same and the sign clearly states to observe traffic and proceed with caution ......their is also an audible warning stating that drivers may not stop .....without placing blame can anyone else relate to what I am saying about this? ....I feel that they are death traps with simply too many variables to ever considered be safe .....

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 7:47 p.m.

Reporters for would do a public service by making a video showing these lights as they are operated at a crosswalk. I don't think they are best described as "flashing yellow". They are brighter than the yellow in a stoplight and they flash back and forth in an attention-getting pattern. I saw them when driving on Plymouth and was quite startled.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 1:16 a.m.

Agree. They are hard to miss. I would also like to see how long they are on. Several eyewitnesses to the accident claimed they had been on at least 30 seconds. I doubt very much they are on for a total of 30 seconds when the button is pressed. This doesn't mean I don't think they are asinine. Just data is data. No sense arguing facts.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

In all fairness if Ann is gonna do video showing the flashing yellows they also need to do a video showing the pedestrian point of view complete with the sign and audible instructions for pedestrians.... this death could have been avoided if just one of the people involved payed attention

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

Thanks Vivienne, we'll consider that!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 6:57 p.m.

Thanks to Sabra Briere, for all this information. I will be more careful downtown, both walking and driving.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

While the downtown intersections may be "most dangerous" by the chosen metric it doesn't reflect the severity of the injuries. It seems like when we have an incident at one of the mid-block crosswalks on the higher-speed non-downtown roads that they wind up being more serious or fatal injuries. Not that the low-speed collisions in the city are acceptable but they are apparently more survivable. Again, it would be good to see the source data.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

Nobody mentions the cell phone problem. At Fifth and Liberty, a man in a wheelchair was knocked to the pavement, while the woman continued to talk on her cell phone. And she didn't even stop. It was have been an engrossing conversation.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

This is typical city council CYA. Our city leaders promotion of these unsafe crosswalks is not based in science, or even the most basic understanding of human nature, on both sides of the windshield. All this pedestrian-empowering 'traffic engineering' does is create a false sense of security for those who are most vulnerable, the pedestrian. Creating or adopting traffic laws that few know and fewer follow is not responsible leadership. Defending these laws in light of the recent tragedy is just in bad taste, and their efficacy will likely not be bourne out when the statistics are compiled a few years from now.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Any chance we can see the data? There might be other interpretations.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

The Chronicle story has a good deal of data.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:36 p.m.

Only if you can find that mysterious 'other person' who compiled the data, but was not deigned important enough to mention.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:33 p.m.

One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic. Joseph Stalin

Woman in Ypsilanti

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:25 p.m.

While I agree with everyone that ultimately pedestrians need to watch out for themselves, I also think that putting drivers in jail for hitting pedestrians would help people remember to drive safely and respect things like crosswalks.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

I have to agree with other posters. If you want there to be more non-motorized traffic in town and especially downtown there needs to be some enforcement of traffic laws for them too. Jaywalking should be TICKETED. Bicycles should be fined DOUBLE. Everyday I drive downtown, everyday I deal with jaywalkers and bicycles, just yesterday two bikes ran red lights. If we are "sharing" the road then why do these people have less responsibility to traffic laws then I do in my car?


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Again, I'm speaking from enough experience in that I've lost a close family member, and to this day still continue to help care for another due to injuries suffered; from a truck which passed stopped cars at a red light, drove through an open right turn lane, and sped into the intersection, striking my brother and niece. The indication was that the driver of the truck simply "didn't want to stop," "was in a hurry to get home, " etc,..., saw what he thought was an opportunity to zip past everyone, unscathed; and went for it ....................... People will not stop for lights, blinking red or otherwise, nor for concern of others if they don't want to, or don't care............... With that said, the only way to prevent death and injury is to provide pedestrian bridges. Even in downtown, in Minneapois, for example, they have many ped bridges and walking paths. But, especially at a gateway road like Plymouth, there should be a pedestrian bridge, as well.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

Excellent suggestion about the ped bridges. City Council should stop talking high rises and train stations and get back to protecting its citizenry. Ms. Briere is as clueless as the other Council members. Vote these bums out!!!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

I'm very sorry for your loss, but I don't agree with your conclusion. Pedestrian bridges cost in the neighborhood of $1 million each. Due to ADA requirements, pedestrian bridges require a huge footprint, which generally isn't available in infill neighborhoods. People generally won't use pedestrian bridges, as they are inconvenient, just like they won't walk 1/4 mile out of their way.

Widow Wadman

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Ms. Briere will not be getting my vote this November.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

@Peregrine; And I'm still waiting for some. I had seven yesterday. Is a bit inadequate of a description. Similar to the "statistics", this lady pulled out of her.... ummmm.... notes.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

People who bring facts to a discussion have absolutely no business being in elective government! (sarcasm)

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:23 p.m.

Because of the report she provided on pedestrian crash data or something else?

Jim Walker

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:03 p.m.

A correction and an addition to the UTC pedestrian rules relayed by Leslie Morris. Correction to the item called "First" UTC Part 7, 28.1702 Rule 702, Found on page 16, crossing without a signal Drivers must yield to pedestrians in the same HALF of the crosswalk as the vehicle, or to pedestrians so close to that half as to be in danger. On a wide street, drivers do not have to yield to pedestrians in the opposite half of the crosswalk if they are not near and approaching the center line. R 28.1706 Rule 706, Found on page 17 When crossing at places other than a marked crosswalk, pedestrians must yield the right of way to all vehicles. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

Jim Walker

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

Of course not, Brad. I support the UTC rules. When Ann Arbor passes ordinances that do not follow the UTC rules, then we have problems. Across the country, traffic laws and enforcement procedures are supposed to follow the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices - in both detail and principle. The most important word is UNIFORM. It creates problems when Ann Arbor has different rules than Grand Rapids or Chicago or LA - especially in this very mobile and rapidly changing population that makes up Ann Arbor. James C. Walker, Life Member-National Motorists Association


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:34 p.m.

Voting down the UTC rules are you?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2 p.m.

The city needs to ticket drivers who stop *in* crosswalks at stop signs and signals. The routine practice of so many drivers is to ignore the line and stop in the crosswalk. The law requires that you advance into the crosswalk only after coming to a complete stop and verifying that it is clear.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Dangerous driving becomes a huge problem when they drive without paying attention to their surroundings or the law. Coincidentally enough, this happens downtown more than anywhere else in Ann Arbor.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

What ever happened to stop, look, and listen....take the headphones off and stop texting while crossing the street. Many people I observe don't even try that quick step hustle while crossing, as if they have the right to saunter across the street, a privledge that comes with the right to be in a crosswalk.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

Pedestrians have the right of way, but are foolhardy if they don't look both ways. You can't expect to step out in front of a moving car without consequences. The car needs the time and space to stop for you. If you haven't allowed it any time, whose fault is that?


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

Cars need time and space to stop. If you are driving and haven't allowed sufficient time to stop when you come across a crosswalk, you are driving too fast and too carelessly.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

All of downtown is dangerous for pedestrians and bicycles. However, the reason is their almost total lack of awareness of the world around them. Bicycles flash back and forth with no regard for common sense much less traffic laws. Pedestrians immersed in their cell phones and music headphones blissfully walk into traffic (red or green lights) without even looking. At night the people & bikes are cleverly disguised in dark colors so that their stealth movements into the street are almost invisible. It's a true miracle that someone isn't killed every day.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

I personally think these crosswalks should be designed as regular traffic lights at intersections are. A pedestrian hits the button to activate the light. This controls two signals, one for the pedestrian and one for the traffic on the roadway. The roadway signal goes from green to yellow to red. Once the traffic signal turns red, the signal for the pedestrian turns to walk, and allows the pedestrian to cross traffic. It would also include a countdown timer for the pedestrian to cross the road, before the signal returns to green. This would encourage walkers to walk at a more timely pace. I would also have a motion sensing detection device to detect pedestrians still in the crosswalk. Once the timer expire, and the motion detection device both indicate the crosswalk is clear, then traffic gets a green light. This would be a precursor to what will eventually be coming with traffic control lights. Eventually you will see a series of cameras and other traffic flow detection equipment which will use real time traffic flow data to control traffic lights. It is already being done in some places.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 7:02 a.m.

We already have those ....they are called traffic lights and they are at intersection s ....lets be honest here and at the very least admit that these crosswalks are placed at places where Jay walking used to happen ........personally i ride a bike and prefer intersections....but the average pedestrian especially on Plymouth road cannot be expected to walk ten minutes out of their way to cross the road ....after all all the crosswalks on Plymouth road were originally in response to a jaywalker getting struck and killed on Plymouth took a bit but its finally come full circle law will ever replace common sense when it comes to crossing the street


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:09 p.m.

This will require changes in state law and rules. For example, the reason that they had to install a HAWK signal and not a traffic light at the corner of Huron and Chapin is that the state wouldn't allow it. (There was some restriction on the number of allowable lights per unit of distance.)

Katherine Griswold

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Ryan, Would you please interview a professional engineer (P.E.) with transportation engineering expertise? Opinions may make for interesting reading, but a professional engineer is more qualified to discuss crash statistic and evaluate our local crosswalk ordinance.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:31 p.m.

That would be interesting, but a professional engineer's opinion is not infallible. Some city PEs can defy the recommendations of many other PE such as those on the NTSB, and state agencies. It can be for political reasons. Burbank California has an extremely dangerous railroad crossing that has had 10 non fatal accidents, 2 fatal accidents, and many changes recommended by the NTSB (National Traffic Safety Board), university professors who study transportation and human factors engineering, and others. This City of Burbank PE (Ken Johnson) measures what he says based upon political concerns and the city attorneys. They call it a "Legally safe crossing". Sometimes it is safer and easier to blame the victim than admit the truth. An Ann Arbor engineer may also be influenced as to what he or she may publically state for political or legal reasons that have nothing to do with safety. I'm so familiar with this crossing and the behind-the-scenes politics as my mother was the third fatality at this crossing and I've studied it well and met with safety experts at USC and Metrolink and the FRA.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

I actually saw a pedestrian get hit by a southbound vehicle while crossing in a crosswalk along the north side of Huron Street yesterday afternoon. I believe it was either at Main or Fourth — I'm forgetting now. It wasn't that serious, though, and I doubt it ended up being reported. Basically what happened was a car that should have stopped before reaching the crosswalk/red light came up a little too fast, obviously didn't see the woman in the crosswalk soon enough, and sort of bumped into her before stopping. It seemed to really startle the pedestrian, who was pushed forward and thrown off balance but didn't fall down. She gave the driver a kind of "what the heck?" look and kept walking. I see situations all the time downtown where motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike aren't paying enough attention to what's going on around them. Convincing everyone they should be very alert while walking, biking and driving would be nice if we could do that. But it's probably safe to assume at all times there is someone around you — either in a car, on a bike or walking — who isn't very alert or is fixated on a cell phone, so be cautious.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

You witnessed an accident, hopefully you reported it or will report it? Guess you were not paying much attention yourself though if you are not sure what intersection you were at.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

when i wait for pedestrians before making a right turn downtown, too things happen. oncoming traffic makes a left turn in front of me, blocks the entire intersection, and wait there for the pedestrians to clear the lane. the pedestrians avoid the curb so they can immediately begin crossing in front me without stopping at the corner. you might as well just cross diagonally.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

What are you proposing? Since others (e.g.left-turning drivers) routinely break the law, you should do it first?


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Eh, both driver inattention and pedestrian inattention are brought up in comments. Wouldn't this at least suggest that GREATER ATTENTION on the part of both drivers and pedestrians is a "good thing?" Other: anyone who regularly walks / bikes downtown knows this - gridlock periods on Main Street between William north to Huron, are a major cause of driver over-focus on just getting through each traffic light / intersection. And that applies especially if the driver is making either a right or left turn. It's EXACTLY when the yellow caution lights are on when drivers try to take advantage of that brief ("precious") few seconds to make their move. Pedestrians: don't help much either - they're overconfident about the slow traffic, assuming they will be seen by the stopped /waiting drivers and that they have plenty of time to saunter across the street (while the lights are "in their favor"). It's even worse during U of M student move-in /move-out periods. Then there are the semi-panicked parents driving around in totally unfamiliar Ann Arbor. They devote a lot of their driving time to just finding "the right street" or "right direction" to drive in. To call them "distracted" is an under statement. I think it would be good to have a "Driving and Walking in Ann Arbor" manual. It should consist mainly of cogent advice that would give drivers and temp residents who're visiting SOME CLUE about what it means to be a driver or pedestrian in this town.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

Item #2 for pedestrians in that publication ... Look both ways before entering the street. Be sure you give drivers enough time to see you and stop. Words to live by. Literally.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

Shorter link:

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

Something like this?


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

What a load of crap. How about accidents/year? Wouldn't that be just a L I T T L E more relevant than some apples and oranges comparison? If this is DATA, I would hate to see her shoot from the hip.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:55 a.m.

I give a detailed comment Of that same sentiment excavtly below ..... just saying lets focus on the bigger picture here ....quite simply there is a bigger problem with no immediate solutions ....we can all agree there is most definitely a problem /problems here ....lets start there before placing /denying blame ....finding a solution /solutions


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

No one seems to have brought up the Limit Line. You remember the Limit Line, right? That big white stripe you are supposed to stop behind (vehicles, motorized, wind driven, steam powered and bicycles) before you turn right on red, or stop at while you wait for the green? In several large cities that have pedestrians, the traffic cops (they typically wear white hats) will ticket drivers for violating right-of-way and in some places gridlock laws. You see, if a vehicles wheels are in front of that line, that vehicle has entered the intersection (hence the concept of a LIMIT). Perhaps if more people paid attention to the limit line, and stopped behind them, then pedestrians would have a fighting chance in the crosswalk, and the drivers would have the opportunity to view and comprehend the intersection before proceeding.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

As a 'try to be" responsible parent who's been through two teenagers learning how to drive, I'm more than cognizant of the Limit Line and have made every effort to ensure that my own children would know and respect this aspect of the driving law, as well as I do.... However, I've noticed that I tend to be "threatened" with a rear-end collision just about every time....usually by an angry mom, yuppie or high school kid.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

i always look for the stop line, or stop sign if there is no line. anxious drivers wanting to make a right turn usually pass the stop line and proceed through the cross walk before stopping.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Look both ways before you cross


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:51 a.m.

Very sound knowledge everyone should follow ....despite having the legal right of way ........would you rather be right ...or be alive?

Silly Head

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

We need an app for that.

Former A2 Resident

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

Many years ago I was hit by a pickup truck while legally walking across Main Street. The driver ran a red light. Luckily no serious injuries, but it certainly changed my behavior as both a pedestrian and a driver. I assume drivers don't see me when I am a pedestrian and I watch more carefully for pedestrians when I am driving. Everyone, please slow down and watch out for the other guy, pedestrian or driver.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

and Iwould counsel the Council member that dealing with data that has been reported to the police is dangerously innacruate. Its the only "data" without actual observation you have but its not accurate.

Linda Peck

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:51 a.m.

There is no way to sugar coat what has been happening on our fast roads at these pedestrian crossings. They are too new, people are driving too fast, and they are a bad design. Statistics from past years don't seem to apply to these recent tragedies. There are factors here that are not being addressed, and enforcement of traffic laws is one of them.

Linda Peck

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

Bob, this used to be the case, but I am not sure this remains so given the newness of the pedestrian crossings on 4-lane roads. It is too soon to know that.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

per the article, the crashes are occurring primarily on low speed downtown streets, not superspeedways.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:50 a.m.

love the data - think the analysis is a bit faulty. most accidents = highest concentration of people and cars and that would be downtown. where people are dying? less density(fewer incidents), higher speeds, mid-block crossing (with or without cross walk) and no the solution is not to slow the major commute routes down. I just turned down a job in dt a2 because getting to the interview was such a huge pain.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

remove the flashing crosswalks as they are dangerous and unnecessary. Every time I come up to one, i wonder what person behind me is going to plow into me. also on stadium where lane transition down two one lane from two. makes driving more stressful, and dangerous. you folks should quite screwing with the roads and the crosswalks. They where much better before you needed to install crosswalks and bike paths everywhere. Now bikers and flashing crosswalks rule our driving lives. it sucks. while i like most of what our local politicians have done, these to areas scream of need for political turnover- if any one decent will run.


Wed, Aug 21, 2013 : 6:48 a.m.

I understand some of your concern ..especially concerning getting rear ended ...however I feel you are placing undue blame on pedestrians a....and bicyclesists we need to have empathy and respect for each other and work together to figure out a solution that works for all....the blame doesn't rest squarely on any one individual ...or wathaveyou


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Good post! Things were much better, less stressful and safer before all of the trimming of lanes for bike paths that few actually use.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

The most dangerous intersections for pedestrians are downtown. And where are the most pedestrians? Downtown. I don't know how you do it, Holmes!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

Not just the most but also the most absorbed.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

When i am in pedestrian mode my default setting is no driver sees me. A corollary to that is being right is little consolation if I get hit by a car.

Widow Wadman

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

I keep telling the kids that I watch that drivers aren't looking for you, so you have to watch out for cars. I don't think that they understand yet, but maybe if I keep trying they'll end up thinking like you.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

That's exactly the attitude I take when riding my one sees me and it is up to me to make sure I am safe. Though I do all I can to be seen...hi beam during daylight hours, white helmet, white bike, light bar, etc. Pedestrians need to consider their mode of dress as dark clothes at night...but black is "in" I guess.

Deb Clark

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:33 a.m.

With all due respect to the Councilwoman, I think her statement misses two crucial poins. Drivers downtown drive slower, they have to. And they are, for better or worse, used to pedestrians crossing the street. This is true not only on campus (where I wish UofM would begin a mandatory 'how to cross the street' seminar for all in-coming Freshmen) but also pretty much anywhere Kerrytown, to Main Street, to Liberty/State, etc. Drivers on Plymouth Road, however, drive starting from 35mph to 40mph and much frequently faster. They are not used to the crosswalks, they have only been there for ca. 1 year, I believe. So the fact that stats ending in 2012 show that downtown was the most dangerous zone for pedestrians does not surprise me, I strongly suspect Plymouth Road's figures (especially when figuring in near-accidents) will be distinctly higher the next time these numbers are crunched. More importantly - the statement distinctly gave me the impression of justifying the crosswalks and not addressing the problems with them. And that this comes a mere 2 weeks after a young lady has died, I find distasteful in the least. I would have hoped council had the tact to perhaps first examine closely what is wrong with the crosswalks. Many other commenters have addressed this issue so all I will point out is this - a flashing yellow light means caution, not stop. Of course pedestrians have the right of way and of course they should look before they cross. Of course drivers should yield and be not speed. However, unless and until we can guarantee that every driver driving in Ann Arbor streets realizes that flashing yellow means stop for pedestrians, these tragic accidents and near accidents will continue to happen. I only wish one of our elected officials would have the decency and temerity to own that bad decision (making the lights yellow and not sufficiently educating the public) and work on rectifying it.

Barbara Brown

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

Deb, all good points. I have been going to that side of town for once a week for the past 2 1/2 years and the only thing I've noticed about the crosswalks is that confuse both drivers and walkers. Drivers aren't sure if they should yield or stop, and pedestrians are either unsure if they should cross or have a very false sense of security. Why council decides to defend this rather than try to fix it after someone dies, I don't know.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Finally, a good discussion on how to enhance pedestrian safety, by paying attention to the problem and using relevant data. Council members need to balance pandering for the favor of vocal constituents with real concern for public safety.

Deb Clark

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:01 p.m.

Machine, I have no doubt that drivers downtown are equally reckless as drivers anywhere in the city, and that there is a greater concentration of people (drivers, pedestrians, and bikers) in a downtown area. That isn't in dispute. But, as I pointed out above, I do think that drivers, pedestrians, and bikers are more used to dealing with the other (however imperfectly) and that for the most part, it is rare to see a driver go 50+ mph on Fifth. On Plymouth or even Green Road, I can assure you that you see that on an hourly basis. Sonny - I didn't want to drop the CYA but that was the first thing that came to my mind. And to CYA so openly during an election year where you have two challengers does not seem to be the cleverest of strategies.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

"I would have hoped council had the tact to perhaps first examine closely what is wrong with the crosswalks. " To do that, Council would first have to admit that there is something wrong with their new crosswalks. No politician will ever admit that a law they passed is less than perfect. They never admit that there are unintended consequences. What the councilwoman was doing is classic political CYA. Don't you see. She has statistics that prove that the new fangled crosswalks are not more dangerous than the crosswalks downtown. There are three types of lies. Lies. Damned lies. And Statistics.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

I don't know which downtown you are referring to. I've worked downtown for over 20 years and the amount of reckless driving I see is remarkable. I see people ignore stop signs, run red lights, and speed on a daily basis. I've never understood why the AAPD seems more concerned with enforcing the speed limit on Green Road than it is with enforcing the speed limit on Fifth Ave. directly adjacent to City Hall.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:29 a.m.

It should be so easy: always know your surroundings and go when it is safe to do so, and if you're driving, be very very aware and vigilant, although not to the point of dangerous hesitations and unpredictable patterns to your driving. It is pedestrians who are far more able to break stride and/or alter their trajectory, so ordinances that demand that cars do just that are actually dangerous. Giving the pedestrians the right-of-way has its merits and problems. The problem that sticks out the most is the dangerous presumption that cars are going to stop if you just walk out in front of them. Another consideration ought be time of day. At 3 in the afternoon it is urgently essential that opportunity to cross (hence the crosswalks) be provided for those on foot or walking bikes, but at 1 am, for instance, the best solution is the good old-fashioned "look both ways and then cross". If some jerk comes out at you suddenly, while crossing at night, going fifteen over the limit, that hardly reflects on the other drivers who don't do that, and those other drivers need not be penalized.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Pedestrian safety begins with the pedestrian; no if, ands, or buts about it. If the pedestrian does not look out for their own safety, no law in the world will preclude a driver from doing the wrong thing. You want real pedestrian safety at crosswalks? Put big metal poles in the street that extend up when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. This will keep any car from inadvertently entering the crosswalk.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:23 a.m.

The article doesn't say much about the pervasive attitude by most pedestrians these days who studiously ignore the traffic conditions at any given time. They seem to believe they exist in a bubble which is impervious to any and all contact with the outside world. It goes beyond a 'generational attitude'; although it does seem that most folks under the age of about 30 have lost the self-preservation instinct most of us learned growing up in the '50's and '60's. This attitude is reinforced by the City's approach to traffic control/management. I'm not surprised that pedestrians are having problems; after all they are putting themselves at risk by not paying close enough attention to their surroundings.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:12 p.m.

There you go: inviting negative votes by saying that people should have better "situational awareness." How dare you suggest such a thing! LOL!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:19 a.m.

The term "Dead Right" seems to come to mind. One must ultimately be responsible for their own safety.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:09 p.m.

I'm so amazed that you wrote "responsible for their own safety" and didn't get 15 to 100 negative votes! LOL! Now let's try making the same point in regard to firearms and see what happens. LOL!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

Crosswalks won't fix stupid. You can be dead right.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:48 a.m.

438 accidents, thats disgusting. Michigan has an aggresive driving problem...I see it on a daily basis. Drivers need to relax, pay attention, and slow down!


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

One per week in a city this size with such crazy pedestrians sounds about right.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Are you saying that all of those accidents are the cause of the drivers? No one darts out into traffic in AnnArbor?


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

All need to relax and be responsible for self - walkers, bikers, and drivers. Oft times I have individuals walk right out in front of me while driving - same with drivers who do the same thing. It is time for all to be more responsible, respectful and accountable.

Basic Bob

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

It's about one accident a week.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:39 a.m.

While Sabra Briere's statistics are impressive, it is the same metaphor one can use for roundabouts replacing traditional 4-way intersections to keep traffic moving. That a relatively few, higher speed/greater injury accidents, are replaced by a greater number of "fender benders" in which there is rarely injury. The tragedy is that people come to great harm where these crosswalks are placed in the midst of flowing traffic which has an increasingly distracted driver populace. We can choose to continue to ignore the reality and hang our hats on legality or we can eliminate these and have pedestrians walk 1/4 mile to the nearest intersection and cross like in most populated areas.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

A midblock crosswalk can be missed by a driver, but when flashing lights are added, this is no longer true. Expecting a pedestrian to " walk 1/4 mile to the nearest intersection" and then another 1/4 mile back is against human nature and will often be ignored. A mid-block crosswalk that has flashing lights is a good solution. Anyone who is driving and ignores this should either get a ticket or lose their license if a repeat offender.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

Now there's an idea, roundabouts in downtown Ann Arbor. Of course pedestrians will be required to follow the same traffic direction as the vehicles, so instead of crossing once to the left they'll have to cross 3 times to the right to get to the same place.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:31 a.m.

Noble, vital laws are deemed useless by those that ignore them, as well as by those that choose not to enforce them, in equal manners.. The mayor and his crew are "comfortable" with current levels of public safety enforcement, in word and deed, so we can continue to expect to see terrible results for pedestrians. Adding layers of local safety law make nothing safer, especially when the safety laws are devised by politicians and not traffic engineers. Local ordinances, creating confusion for many motorists, add to the safety problem. To add safety for our pedestrians: 1) Enforce the state law with vigor and biting penalty. 2) Remove confusing local laws from the books. 3) Remove crosswalks from four lanes at non intersections. 4) Remove pedestrian-obscuring vegetation and signage from pedestrian islands.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:28 a.m.

Enforce the laws for everyone. Pedestrians who routinely ignore the don't walk sign( I've done that) or step out into traffic when the auto traffic has green light, autos that speed to beat the light, bikes that don't follow any laws to my knowledge, etc. ( Sorry list is too long) I think that as our society moved from the mind set of "what am I responsible for in my community and to others" to a mind set of " I am the most important and entitled and get out of my way", we are reaping the fruits of that cultivation. Remember the City has an obligation to provide basic services for public safety. Maybe the City should redirect some of those "optional" allocations they budget for to making everyone aware of what their responsibilities are. And fund it at the expense of those who don't. (tickets) But enforce it across the board. Peds, Bikes, Autos- no one gets a pass. Would only take a week of that to yank everyone's chain and could be done occasionally without announcing when it was occurring.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Deputydawg, exactly what you said. Times a million.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

@Pizzicato, "...prosecute pedestrians for menial "violations" of the law. " Walking in front of a moving vehicle is not "menial". It could change the lives of the pedestrian and the driver immensely. It also puts the entire responsibility on the driver to avoid killing the pedestrian.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Sometimes I ride a bike, other times I drive a car, and often after I drive a car, I park it and become a downtown pedestrian. The law needs to be enforced equally for all, for the safety of all. Sadly, there is little enforcement downtown. It would not take much for the word to spread, especially among UM students, if this were to change.

Jim Osborn

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

Yesterday, I was at a red light on Huron St at about 4th Ave. The light turned green and I started to go. I then hit the brakes, having moved 2 feet. There were 3 pedestrians about 15 feet away who were in the middle of Huron. They had started to cross when the light was yellow, the "Don't Walk" sign must have been flashing long before they began. They didn't hurry, even though they were clearly going against a red light. They felt entitled, one holding up a large picture frame to "stop Traffic". Last week I saw a bicyclist cross against a red light from the sidewalk, against a red light, forcing traffic to stop for him. Then a couple of months ago, I stopped at a mid-block crosswalk on Packard near US 23 for a pedestrian, as this person was passing in front of my car, another car shot by, almost hitting this person. The other driver was clearly in the wrong, but I was shocked at how this pedestrian was not even paying attention, trusting everyone to stop for him. Since I was a small child, and began to cross streets, I always watch all traffic. I'll cross against "Don't Walk" sings, but only if there is no traffic and I'll run to make sure that I beat the signal and do not interfere with traffic. It is not that hard to avoid accidents.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

Many pedestrians walking around downtown after dark have had a few, too. I had people walk out in front of me, not in a crosswalk AND against the nearest traffic light, after midnight one night. They were lucky I was travelling below posted speed and paying attention so I could stop in time. Irresponsible pedestrians are not a strawman argument. Tickets used to be given out for jay-walking and other pedestrian offenses. Bicyclists used tho get tickets, too, back when the city had officers patrolling on bikes.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:56 a.m.

I find it amusing that the go-to response to calls for greater pedestrian safety is to prosecute pedestrians for menial "violations" of the law. These calls are almost always sugar-coated by calls for 'equal prosecution', but we know what the aim really is: To keep the traffic from having to deal with pesky people.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

Pedestrian right of way becomes a huge gray area when they run out into traffic without paying attention to their surroundings. Coincidentally enough, this happens downtown more than anywhere else in Ann Arbor.

Jim Walker

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

Running into traffic close to approaching vehicles in a way that the driver does not have time to yield is a civil infraction, per the UTC. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

Fat Bill

Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

I must disagree, Pizzicato. I have worked around campus for the last 13 years; I have personally witnessed careless pedestrians stepping into traffic and numerous close calls. The most common scenario used to be so.enody having an animated discussion on the cell phone. It has evolved into texting while crossing. I see this at least 2-3 times per year.


Tue, Aug 20, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

The pedestrian who runs into traffic without looking is a concept that belongs right up there with the underwater basket weaving university degree and the Loch Ness Monster. In other words, straw men - all of them.