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Posted on Sat, Dec 3, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

Article pokes fun at uproar over crosswalk ordinance in 'brainy' Ann Arbor

By Cindy Heflin

The uproar over Ann Arbor’s pedestrian safety ordinance caught the attention of The Atlantic this week. An article by Micheline Maynard in the Cities section of The Atlantic’s website pokes a little fun at the city.


A sign marks the crosswalk at Seventh and Washington where at least one motorist has been ticketed for not stopping for a pedestrian.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"Ann Arbor, Mich. is the smartest city in the country …,” Maynard writes. “But all it takes is an ordinance governing cars and pedestrians to get all those brainy people in a tizzy.”

The ordinance, passed in July 2010 and requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians approaching a crosswalk, wasn’t enforced for more than a year, but once the city announced plans to begin writing tickets for violations, motorists cried foul and reports started coming in of rear-end crashes caused by drivers screeching to a halt for crossing pedestrians.

The City Council is now in the process of revising the ordinance. Changes given initial approval in November are expected to come back for final approval this month.


G. Orwell

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

All a part of "smart growth." All this "smart" is making people dumb.

Blanch DuBois

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Smartest city? In my opinion, a lot of people in this town have more money than brains.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

simple solution. pedestrians who have not yet entered "crosswalk" must extend arm + point to be entitled to the law those in crosswalk have.(like a car showing turn signal so everybody around them knows thier direction intent of movement).

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

I've tried that, people still won't stop.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

Here's our solution!! It's PERFECT!!!! Brains + Traffic control = art! <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

What I'm tired of hearing about Boulder is that their economy is doing so well, in part due to the quality of living there being so high, in part due to the city government creating a habitable and welcoming street level environment to the young professional people who prefer to commute on foot and bicycle to the companies and jobs they're creating.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

Oh right. Their economy is much better because of their enlightened and superior crosswalk laws. That has SOOOO much to do with it.

Dug Song

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

The car-less Pearl St mall (imagine if all of Main St. and Liberty were a pedestrian mall), bike path system, walkable/bikeable downtown, skatepark, huge farmers market (which isn't better than ours - they just take up way more space to do it spread across a park in a festival-like atmosphere), etc. What Boulder lacks in diversity (seriously), it makes up for in inspired urban planning.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Here's the last graph of the original article which seems to me to be a slap at our city &quot;leaders&quot; and their propensity for so much smarter than everyone else that they have no use for their constituents. "I'd say none of this is surprising," said Dave Askins, who covers the city council for the Ann Arbor Chronicle. "The basic idea that 'I'm smarter than you' is one that I think defines the character of Ann Arbor better than anything you might read in a brochure.&quot; So wouldn't you say this is a case of council thinking they are smarter than the state legislators who crafted the original law that required *no* clairvoyance? That's the way I read it.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

The biggest problem with these crosswalks is location. On Stadium, a five lane road, they are haphazardly placed where there is no intersection or natural stopping point for traffic, in the middle of blocks. There are no traffic lights, just small signs at the side and lines painted on the roadway. In a heavy traffic flow, a driver two or three cars back would not even be aware of why cars would be stopping ahead and could even move to the second lane to go around those stopped cars who may appear to be turning into a driveway. Again, these crosswalks on Stadium are NOT at intersections, where cars would naturally be prepared to stop and watch for pedestrians. This creates an unsafe situation for car drivers and their passengers. Its seems one side wants to blame the car drivers for the increase in rear-end collisions (and yes technically it is their fault), isn't the point of traffic engineering to increase safety for everyone? I do not use these crosswalks, and prefer to cross at the corner for my own safety.

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:01 p.m.

&quot;Its seems one side wants to blame the car drivers for the increase in rear-end collisions (and yes technically it is their fault), isn't the point of traffic engineering to increase safety for everyone?&quot; Technically their fault means entirely their fault in this circumstance. Isn't the point of having a driver's license to increase the skill and responsibility of the driver?

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

The article is not poking fun at the Mayor, City Council or the ordinance itself, it's pointing fingers at the RESPONSE to the ordinance, and the unwillingness of motorists (and commenters) to concede just a little bit of ground in the argument for the sake of public safety, which is largely responsible for, ginning-up outrage with every chance it gets.

Stuart Brown

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

Peter, You fail to grasp that this ordinance will INCREASE the number of pedestrian-car collisions, not decrease them. Before I cross in front of a vehicle, I make sure the driver sees me by making eye contact first. I also have no desire to force 10 vehicles to come to a complete stop, when given a choice, so I may effect my crossing; I prefer to have the 10 vehicles pass on by and I will cross when no vehicles are near. The proponents of this legislation have made it clear that they simply intent to blame drivers who fail to follow the ordinance for any mishaps that injure residents of the city. Yes, people don't follow the rules all of the time, that is a given. Policy makers know this and therefor cannot claim innocence; realistic policy should take into account what people are likely to do, not what they should do! Any policy that depends on having to &quot;educate&quot; people will be a disaster.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

I am sure it would be of great consolation to a pedestrian getting run down in the crosswalk that the person who rear-ended the car that struck them did it because they were following too close or going too fast. They will greatly enjoy that moral high ground from their hospital bed!

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

You think that just because pedestrians have been smart enough to not walk out in front of moving cars (thereby avoiding statistically significant accident numbers), that we shouldn't be trying to provide safe ways to cross streets? How many elevator accidents have their been lately? Yet we still have regulations to avoid them. How many people have been mauled by tigers at the zoo? Yet we still keep them in cages. How about this; what are the statistics of all the rear-end accidents everyone says are a result of this ordinance? How many of them were because the driver who rear-ended the car in front of them were following too close or going too fast? Please provide that information.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

Peter, what were the statistics that caused the &quot;special&quot; ordinance. How many motorists were at fault in vehicle/pedestrian accidents? How many pedestrians died from motorist at-ault accidents? Please provide that information.

mike gatti

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:41 p.m.

The crosswalk ordinance is what it is. I imagine that with time and bumpers we'll get used to it. Am I the only person who has had issues with people who drive in those wide bike lanes on first and Ashley and use them as right turn lanes nearly causing accidents when two cars are turning at once?

mike gatti

Mon, Dec 5, 2011 : 1:06 a.m.

whether you have them or not is one issue people driving in them and then using them as a turn lane is another. It seems a little dangerous.

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

The car lanes are a joke and a hazard to cycling.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

The bike lanes are a joke and a hazard to driving.

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 11:45 a.m.

Laughing stock Ann Arbor. Thanks Mayor. Mission accomplished!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Has anyone contacted SNL yet? This would make for a great skit.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 9:50 a.m.

We deserve being made fun of by others. The majority of Ann Arbor voters have decided to leave our mayor and most incumbent city council members in office. Once you get outside of the Ann Arbor bubble into the real world, we look pretty silly.

Olan Owen Barnes

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

It is a stupid idiotic law that tilts Left of the universe. It should be set to the state standard. What happened to stop at the curb and look both ways and proceed when the way is clear?


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:35 a.m.

I think a careful read of the article in The Atlantic will make clear that they're teasing us about the &quot;tizzy&quot; the ordinance created, not the ordinance itself. Drivers in Boulder have no problem dealing with pedestrians approaching an intersection, but here in Ann Arbor, in fact here on little old, people openly wonder A) how they're supposed to pay attention to pedestrians while driving, B) how might it ever be determined if a pedestrian is approaching a crosswalk, and C) how the drivers behind can be expected to pay attention and not read-end them.

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

What I'm tired of hearing about Boulder is that their economy is doing so well, in part due to the quality of living there being so high, in part due to the city government creating a habitable and welcoming street level environment to the young professional people who prefer to commute on foot to the companies and jobs they're creating.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:21 p.m.

What do you know about drivers in Boulder besides the spin coming from our mayor? That's what I thought.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

Tired of hearing about Boulder. I noticed that their signs don't reflect their actual law either. Maybe some people from Ann Arbor moved there.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:31 a.m.

If some national publications want to take a crack at the idling ordinance or the resolution to oppose Arizona's immigration law... have at it! It's humiliating to have the media take a jab at Ann Arbor. But perhaps now City Council will be more wary of making dumb ordinances and resolutions.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:21 a.m.

The ordinance should actually be, (and all of you non-UofM students will probably agree) &quot;Motorists that collide with pedestrians at the intersection of State Street and S. University will not be penalized&quot;. There is an ordinance because the incredible ignorant U of M students walk out into the street without regards for oncoming vehicles. They have absolutely no manners. I grew up in Ann Arbor, I have seen this every year for the last 25 years. It is actually the bigger problem that should be addressed. Pedestrians need to be held 50% responsible for their own crosswalk safety. I would say 100%, but the motorists really should be looking.

Peter Baker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

It is absurd to say that intersection is &quot;actually the bigger problem that should be addressed.&quot; One intersection that is a annoyance because it's actually used by a lot of foot traffic is hardly the biggest problem facing motorists or pedestrians in this city.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

alterego, I doubt that the students would respect and obey a light.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:05 a.m.

Perhaps a light at that intersection might be a good idea?


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:58 a.m.

Cross walks for pedestrians are a must. Drivers need to learn to pay attention to cross walks. However, especially at night, it is really hard to see pedestrians. Cross walks need to be lit much better.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 4:22 a.m.

True. But at night, the cars have headlights so the pedestrian, if they LOOKED before walking into the street, would know if they had a safe amount of time to cross before getting hit.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

More publicity for the city council, making them a larger laughing stock. I wonder why the art commission debacle hasn't hit the larger media yet? It suggests good reason to ask that reports look into it, I believe !


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 5:27 a.m.

Art is a little trickier. Remember, one man's art is another man's trash, and one man's trash is another man's art. The city would be better off installing purposeful amenities to enhance the city as opposed to what some may think of as art (e.g., a lot of what can be found at the Art Fairs).


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

Only the arrogance of ignorance can compete with the arrogance of intellect. For these participants there is no middle which is where common sense resides.


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 2:39 a.m.

Since moving to Ann Arbor six years ago, it has become a matter of some amazement to me that substantially more about this place isn't featured in such publications as The National Lampoon, The Onion, and The Journal of American Abnormal Psychiatry.

The Picker

Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.

Just another example of the oxymoron &quot;Government Intelligence&quot; Whoo, Whoo whoo whoo Larry, Moe, Curly!


Sun, Dec 4, 2011 : 1:39 a.m.

Maybe they'll catch wind of this discussion: <a href=""></a> And 'poke fun' at the attempts to post the most thinly veiled racist comments!