You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Michigan State Police and MDOT propose more speed limit increases in Ypsilanti

By Katrease Stafford

A Michigan Department of Transportation speed study will raise the speed limits in some of Ypsilanti’s busiest intersections and areas.


The speed limit on South Huron Street between Interstate 94 and Ferris Street increased to 40 mph from 35 mph in April.

Tom Perkins | For

Michigan State Police First Lt. Thad Peterson presented the study during Tuesday's Ypsilanti City Council meeting.

Speed limit increases as much as up to 10 miles per hour were presented. Most areas that have high pedestrian populations, such as Cross Street and areas near Eastern Michigan University's campus, do not have proposed increases.

In April, MDOT and the MSP proposed speed limit changes to additional roads.

Speed limits are determined jointly by MDOT and the MSP through speed studies that analyze data using a measurement called the “85th percentile” speed, which is the speed at or below 85 percent of vehicles are traveling.

Peterson said they examine a road's accident history, the number of lanes, the number of curves and how many hills it has, in addition to the roadside environment, which includes access points, the number of cars, the number of crosswalks, stop signs and other determining factors.

Peterson said most crashes aren’t because of high speed but instead reckless driving, distraction and intoxication. He noted that most people are afraid that by increasing speed limits, people will drive faster.

Contrary to popular belief, increasing speed limits has quite the opposite effect, Peterson said.

“One thing we have to explain to people is that usually everyone thinks if you increase the speed limit drivers go faster and it tends not to happen that way,” he said. “There’s a very small percentage of people that actually speed up.”

Peterson said more accidents are caused by individuals who try to stay close to the actual speed limit as opposed to those who go above it.

“They’re the ones that actually cause some of our traffic problems because they have people weaving around them,” he said. “It seems wrong for a police officer to say that the people who are driving slow are causing the problems but it’s actually true.” One example Peterson gave to council was that the vast majority of individuals drive 45 mph on Washtenaw near Golfside even though the limit is 40. The individual that is actual going the speed limit causes everyone else to make abrupt lane changes that might result in accidents, he said.

“You end up with unintentional tailgating and it really causes a discontinuity in the traffic flow,” he said. “That’s where our crashes come from.”

Peterson said by setting the speed limit near the 85th percentile speed, it brings individuals driving the speed limit up into the normal range and in turn, reduces speed differentials.

Mayor Pro-Tem Lois Richardson said the proposed speed increases are a “punishment” for drivers who pay close attention to the speed limit.

“If I’m going the speed limit, I don’t think it’s fair for those that want to speed to try to force me to go faster,” Richardson said. “I’m one of those people that think if the speed limit increases, they’re just going to go faster.”

Studies performed across the state in other college towns such as East Lansing and Mount Pleasant and even those that are dissimilar, such as Saline, show that increasing the speed limit does reduce crashes, according to Peterson.

“In every case we have caused there to be a much nicer driving environment because we take out little snags in traffic,” he said. “The snags are caused by people that are driving too slow. It really works.”

Councilmember Michael Bodary was largely against the idea of increasing speed limits.

“I put this out to my constituents and all of the responses I got were negative,” Bodary said. “Not a single response came back positive. I think because some of them seem to be a bit extreme.”

Bodary said some of the proposed changes include some roads where there is a significant amount of lane changing and increased speed, which would only cause more accidents and potentially, fatalities.

“Some of these are bad places to raise the limit, including the fact that there was a fatality two years ago with a pedestrian hit by a car near College Place,” Bodary said. “I think this particular point is a bad choice.”

Ypsilanti police Chief Amy Walker said she respects Peterson’s professional expertise but she is a bit concerned about certain areas proposed to see speed limit increases.

“Time will tell and we’ll do what we can do,” Walker said. “I just can’t imagine it getting any faster along Huron because we get a lot of complaints.”

Peterson implored that the studies are being done across the country and getting much needed results.

“One thing we see consistently around the country is there is one way to eliminate a speeding problem and that is by changing the number on the sign,” Peterson said. "This is what science tells us is the best thing. I personally understand everyone doesn't get these things but it's something we do every so often."

Wendy Ramirez, MDOT traffic and safety engineer, said the limits become effective upon placement of the necessary regulatory signs. When signs are in place, the regulation becomes effective on the date of a Traffic Control Order being co-signed by the directors of MDOT and MSP.

Based on the results of the engineering and traffic investigation, the survey party is recommending the following speed limits:

  • 30 mph on East Michigan Avenue from Hamilton Street to the Huron River. Existing speed limit: 30 mph
  • 40 mph from the Huron River to Johnson Road. Existing speed limit: Huron River to Park Rd: 30 mph; Park Road to Johnson Road: 35 mph
  • 50 mph from Johnson Road to Holmes Road. Existing speed limit: Johnson Road to Allen Road: 45 mph; Allen Road to Holmes Road: 50 mph
  • 30 mph on Huron Street from Michigan Avenue to Ferris Street. Existing speed limit: 30 mph
  • 35 mph on Hamilton Street from Michigan Avenue to Ferris Street. Existing speed limit: 30 mph
  • 40 mph on Huron and Hamilton Streets from Ferris Street to 0.2 miles south of the eastbound I-94 exit ramp. Existing speed limit: Ferris Street to Harriet: 30 mph; Harriet to 0.2 miles south of the eastbound I-94 exit ramp: 40 mph
  • 45 mph on Washtenaw Avenue from the west right-of-way of US-23 to Oakwood Street. Existing speed limit: West right-of-way of US-23 to Mansfield: 40 mph; Mansfield to Oakwood: 35 mph
  • 40 mph on Washtenaw Avenue from Oakwood to North Summit Street. Existing speed limit: 35 mph
  • 35 mph on Washtenaw Avenue and North Hamilton Street from North Summit Street to US-12 West Michigan Avenue. Existing speed limit: North Summit to Hamilton: 35 mph. On Hamilton between Washtenaw and Michigan: 30 mph
  • 30 mph on North Huron Street from US-12 West Michigan Avenue to Pearl Street. Existing speed limit: 30 mph
  • 35 mph on North Huron Street and West Cross from Pearl Street to Ballard Street. Existing Speed limit: 30 mph
  • 30 mph on West Cross from from Ballard Street to North Summit Street. Existing speed limit: 30 mph
  • 40 mph on Ecorse Road from US-12 Michigan Avenue to 100 feet west of Oaklawn. Existing speed limit: US-12 (Michigan Ave) to Oaklawn: 35 mph
  • 45 mph on Ecorse from 100 feet west of Oaklawn Avenue to 0.3 miles east of South Harris Road. Existing speed limit: Oaklawn to Harris: 35 mph; Harris to 0.3 miles east of South Harris Road: 45 mph

Proposed limit increases are highlighted below:
View MDOT Ypsilanti Speed Increases in a larger map

Katrease Stafford covers the city of Ypsilanti for Reach her at You can also follow her on Twitter.



Mon, Jun 25, 2012 : 3:55 a.m.

Great, Your lowest common denominator distracted and impatient Michigan motorist is determining the speed limit for everyone. I wonder how many wrecks it will take to get the speed limit lowered again.

Jim Walker

Tue, Jun 26, 2012 : 1:18 p.m.

In most cases, setting the posted speed limit at the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions produces the safest and smoothest traffic flow with the fewest accidents. Artificially low posted limits set below the speeds that the super-majority of drivers (85%) find safe and comfortable tends to make the driving less smooth with higher accident risks. Please download the State Police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" from the state website at to see the science behind setting the safest speed limits for all of us. Anyone who thinks the State Police and MDOT set posted speed limits to try to cause more accidents, injuries and fatalities is simply not rational. Jim Walker, NMA


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:41 p.m.

Some of these make sense, but many are shortsighted. Motor vehicle traffic isn't the only use of our roads. Higher speeds make roads hostile to pedestrians, bicycles, and lower powered moped traffic. Huron and Hamilton are already a pain to cross. It becomes circular, we need bigger and faster roads because we all need to be driving our suburban assault vehicles because we have made all other forms of transportation impossible with our bigger and faster roads. As for me personally, I suspect I will be replacing my rear bumper very shortly. I live on Washtenaw and people are already crawling up my colon when I pull into the driveway.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

For ahi: IF the posted speed limits had any real effect on actual travel speeds, your analysis would be very correct. But they don't. There are two, and only two, ways to reduce actual travel speeds on a road where the super-majority of people (85%) feel safe and comfortable to drive at speeds up to 45 mph (which means about 75% of the drivers will be between 36 and 45 mph). 1) You can have enforcement 24/7 which no city can afford to do. OR 2) You can degrade the driving environment with speed bumps, reduced lanes, artificial curves, and other impediments to smooth traffic flow so that most drivers do not feel comfortable at 36-45 mph and instead reduce speeds to about 26-35 in your example. Download the state police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" at for the science. Jim Walker, NMA


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Jim, you missed my point. The goal shouldn't be to match the speed limit to the travel speed, it should be to match the travel speed to the speed limit. We have decided that the limit should be 35mph for a given stretch of road. If everyone is going 45 then the road needs fixing, not the signs. As for my colon health, averages and percentiles don't matter. It only takes one moron.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.

For ahi: IF the posted speed limits had much effect on the upper end of the travel speed range, your analysis would be just right. But they don't. If the 85th percentile speed on a road is 46 mph, it will remain 46 +/- 1 mph in most cases whether the road is posted at 45, 40, or 35 or in a few cases even at 30. Posted limits have almost no effect on travel speeds. Jim Walker, NMA

J. Zarman

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

Where Clark. Rd westbound dead-ends into Hogback Rd..... Hogback is posted 45, many do 50-55 mph on that stretch. Why is Clark not posted "No Turn On Red"? Northbound vehicles on Hogback come flying out of a blind curve, just before the intersection, often over 50 mph. Would the National Motorists Association automatically oppose this limit to right-on-red? This is the Washtenaw County Road Commission's jurisdiction, I believe.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:58 p.m.

Yes, J. Zarman, the NMA does support pro-active moves to reduce risks and injuries - it is a key part of the things we support or oppose. In most cases, setting 85th percentile speed limits is a pro-active policy that reduces risks and improves safety. Setting yellow light intervals long enough for the ACTUAL 85th percentile approach speeds is a pro-active policy that reduces red light violations. (Fortunately predatory red light and speed cameras which depend upon improper engineering of the parameters are not legal in Michigan, but we fight them in many other states.) What we do not support are theoretical restrictions that will NOT be complied with and which often make things worse, or restrictions which have not been shown to be needed. We are a grass roots group of people who love driving and driving freedom and we have NO wish to make the roads less safe for us or for anyone else. We are the principal group responsible to get the counter-productive National Maximum Speed Limit Repealed - see for details. I am 67 years old with well over 1 million miles of experience driving in over 20 countries. Except for one year, I have lived in the Ann Arbor area since 1962. I know the intersection well and if it has a safety issue, the county would be quite likely to address it. But putting in a restriction for something which may not be causing a problem is not proper traffic safety engineering. Jim Walker, NMA

J. Zarman

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 1:01 p.m.

@ Jim Walker. So, for the National Motorists Association, it is not a matter of design, conditions or evident risk? There instead must be sufficient documentation of damage and/or injuries, in order to not oppose limits and restrictions? Does the Association have any provisions for supporting proactive actions to reduce the likelihood of damage and injury? Can the Association cite any evidence of such proactive support, to show to the interested public?

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:16 a.m.

For J. Zarman: That question would take an accident study. If justified by a higher accident rate, a no turn on red could be a proper solution. You could inquire of the County Road Commission who can look up the data. The County, unlike the city of Ann Arbor, strongly supports traffic laws set up for safety. Jim Walker, NMA


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:46 p.m.

The problem with most speed limits is that they were set when cars were less capable of quick manuvering and stopping than they are today. Most everyone will drive 5 to 10 mph over the posted speed limit, the execption being withing a neighborhood. Most of the time these speeds seem quite reasonable and comfortable. For those that choose to drive slower, you may also feel comfortable at the slower speeds. However, why should the masses be required to drive slower just because some do? There are several areas in Ann Arbor that need speed limits adjusted up. Huron Parkway between Geddes and Washtenaw is 5mph slower that at Huron High School with minimal traffic entering the roadway. Plymouth Road is 45mph next to a residential area yet slows to 35 for the business stretch. The police would rather have all speed limits set much lower. Of course they aren't going anywhere like all the other drivers. They are just cruising the town. City council has the power to adjust speed limits. Any way that we can put systems in their cars to see how fast they drive through town? Bet it would be an eye opener.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

For grye: The posted limits on most main streets in Ann Arbor that are city controlled are not only wrong, they are illegally posted in defiance of state law. Huron Parkway from Washtenaw to Geddes should be 45 mph - the 85th percentile speeds vary from 44-48 mph in the speed trap area just south of the last hill. It is viciously worked as a speed trap despite the local courts ruling at least twice that the speed limit is not established according to law and the legally enforceable limit therefore reverts to the "General Speed Limit" which is 55 in Michigan. The city is very predatory here, still giving out tickets, because they know most people are ignorant of the fact the speed limit is illegal and unenforceable. The city happily takes the money from the overwhelming majority of people who don't know how to fight. I think this is outright immoral, if not outright illegal for the city to take advantage of people in this predatory way for money. Jim Walker, NMA


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

The article states "the "85th percentile" speed, which is the speed at or below 85 percent of vehicles are traveling" This is not a clear description. The 85th percentile metric finds the speed at which 85% of traffic is going faster than. The study has a couple serious flaws. Murph pointed one out already that while yes it does decrease the number of car on car accidents it very seriously increases the danger to bicycles and pedestrians. Another problem with the study is that it ignores the culture of the surrounding area. The article suggests that these studies take into consideration the land use in the area. This is not correct. For instance in Ypsilanti there is an increase designated for Washtenaw at Cross. This section of road is immediately between residential housing and EMU. There is much pedestrian traffic there and just two years ago there was a fatality where a pedestrian was hit and run by a car. The biggest issue with this whole idea is that increasing speed limits is the only solution. There are many places where the road is designed to be driveable at speeds much higher than is warranted by their surroundings and thus people drive over the reasonably set speed limit there. This doesn't mean that raising the speed limit makes sense. This means that redesigning the street, anything from repainting lanes to reengineering the layout of the street itself, is the right idea.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:07 a.m.

For akronym: Your view that the 85th percentile speed shows the point at which 85% of the traffic will be ABOVE that speed and going FASTER than that speed is simply wrong. You need to download and read the state police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits from the Michigan government website at If the 85th percentile speed is 47 mph, that means that 85% of the traffic is at or below 47 mph and only up to 15% is at 48 or higher. This is the real number for the portion of Washtenaw between Brockman and Stadium, both before and after the posted limit was corrected by the state police from 35 mph (before April 2008) to 45 mph (after April 2008). The 85th percentile speed of traffic changed by ZERO mph on most days and varied from 46 to 48 on a few days. Correcting posted limits to the 85th percentile rarely changes the actual travel speeds, and then usually by +/- 1 mph. It is TRUE that someone hit at 45 mph has a much higher chance to be killed than someone hit at 35 mph, that is simple physics. But the number painted on the signs does NOT change the upper end of the travel speed range. Painting lower numbers on the signs only gives pedestrians and cyclists a false sense of security by lying to them about what traffic speeds to expect. Jim Walker, NMA


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

maybe if we were open carrying people wouldn't drive so fast!!!

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

These are all good changes that will improve smooth traffic flow and safety. The science of traffic safety engineering is VERY counter-intuitive and hard to teach. I started studying it as a personal interest (not my profession) as a freshman at the U of M in 1962/63. There are over 70 years of research studies showing that posting the 85th percentile speed of free flowing traffic under good conditions usually results in the smoothest and safest traffic flow with the fewest accidents. The only interest of the Michigan State Police is safety. They want the fewest fatalities, injuries and accidents that can be achieved, and these numbers will never be zero. If you want to read a bit, download the Michigan State Police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" from the state website and see how this really works. For those who object, you need to understand the first three rules about posted speed limits. 1) The posted limit has almost no effect on actual traffic speeds, especially at the upper end of the range for the fastest vehicles. 2) See rule #1. 3) See rule #2. The way to achieve safety is to make the traffic flow the smoothest possible, reduce the conflicts between vehicles, and tell the TRUTH to pedestrians and cyclists about the speeds of traffic they will encounter. It is a bad idea to put up 30 mph signs when a lot of the traffic is coming at 35-40 mph because the 85th percentile speed is 40. It gives pedestrians and cyclists a false sense of security to put up signs saying 30 when that is a lie about actual traffic speeds. There is a very helpful effect with correct 85th percentile speed limits. They stop predatory speed traps run for revenue and cause police to focus on the really fast drivers, the ones way above the normal traffic flow speeds, the ones actually causing safety hazards, the ones that DESERVE speeding tickets. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:58 a.m.

70 years of research say that 85th percentile speed limits are the best. I vote with the 7 decades of data, and so do the state police. Jim Walker, NMA

greg, too

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:04 p.m.

As Cheryl said, if enough people break the law, it becomes the new law? That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Cheryl Weber

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

BTW, I already cannot cross the street to access public transit on Ecorse Rd because drivers go too fast and can't be seen from around a curve.

Cheryl Weber

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:41 p.m.

So you say vote with your gas pedal; pure democracy at work. When you factor in current trends of distracted driving, increased driver error at faster speeds., is it any wonder we see more reports of vehicles crashing into buildings? Buildings are big, immobile, I guess they go too slow to move out of the way for a reckless driver. I agree with the previous poster that a chronic speeder who changes lanes to get out in front of others is the cause of the accidents. How long does a speed limit last in satisfying their need to be first in line?


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

Please increase the speed limit on Geddes between Superior Rd. and Dixboro!!!!!!


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 10:33 a.m.

But MK....that would decrease ticket revenue from the WCSD radar guy who sits at the entrance to the golf course every morning (right at the bottom of the hill where you have to brake to stay on the speed limit).

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

That area does seem under-posted to me and I drive it frequently. Contact the Washtenaw County Road Commission and the Traffic Services Section of the Michigan State Police to ask for the area to be surveyed. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

johnson rd? speed limits?

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.

how about a map with colors to show increases...? or is that too much to ask?

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

For Kyle, the map is very clear, thanks. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Kyle Mattson

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:09 p.m.

No official map has been released by MDOT, but we've compiled one highlighting the sections where limits would be increased and embedded it above. Thanks for the suggestion!


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

First Lt. Thad Peterson has some very odd notions about responsibility. For example, he says, "[Drivers who try to stick close to the speed limit are] the ones that actually cause some of our traffic problems because they have people weaving around them." I would think that the impatient drivers who are weaving are causing the problems. He is also paraphrased as saying, "the individual that is actual going the speed limit causes everyone else to make abrupt lane changes that might result in accidents." Really? Someone going the speed limit *causes* others to make abrupt lane changes? Whether or not raising the speed limit reduces or increases the number of accidents will fall out of the data. But like @murph above, I'm more interested in injuries and their severity. And Peterson doesn't address whether increasing enforcement would reduce the number of accidents.

Jim Walker

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.

The rea$on$ citie$ u$e $peed trap$ with low po$ted $peed limit$ are obviou$ to mo$t ob$erver$. Stuart Brown is correct that any affordable level of enforcement does NOT reduce travel speeds or improve safety and is done for utterly false pretenses. Jim Walker, NMA

Stuart Brown

Sat, Jun 23, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

Peregrine said, "And Peterson doesn't address whether increasing enforcement would reduce the number of accidents." Interesting point! My investigation into this matter has led to the following conclusion: When the police do study how much enforcement it takes to get traffic to slow down, they find that practically no level of enforcement will have any sustained impact on average traffic speeds. This raises the issue of why have any enforcement if it has almost no impact on average speeds. It also raises a Fourth Amendment issue because if the enforcement is not effective at its stated purpose, the government has no business inflicting punitive measures on people for that reason. Punitive measures are only justified if the rate of dangerous behavior is reduced by the enforcement action. Police who hand out speeding tickets sit in their cars hour after hour with radar guns that measure the distribution of speeds on a given stretch of road; one would think they have the technical means to measure the effectiveness of their enforcement actions. However, the public can't see the results of this measurement and analysis because the police do not publish this info (because it would show that most traffic enforcement is futile when it comes to lowering average speeds.) So why does the government lie to us and tell us that having police out there giving people tickets is for the safety of the public when the enforcement action is useless in achieving the stated purpose? To answer this, look at what metrics are actually measured and tracked by the police. These metrics are 1) the money collected in fines and 2) the number of people arrested on outstanding warrants during a traffic stop (one gentleman failed to inform the state that his dog had died and he was negligent in renewing the dead dog's tags--a warrant was issued for his arrest and was eventually served during a traffic stop.)

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:51 a.m.

The people who want to keep the unrealistic and low speed limits are not interested in safety and in fact are demanding less safe roads. No, they are only interested in assessing blame on someone else so they can justify continuing to sit on their butts while a problem rages on. They propose to "fix" the problem by transferring responsibility to scapegoats while blocking attempts to come up with real solutions to a real problem. Their motto is that bad things can and do happen and when they do, it won't be their fault!


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 8 p.m.

While increasing the speed limits will decrease accidents, the CAUSE of the accidents ARE the people attempting to go faster than the limit. In the end the solution is the same, but is important to note that that the problem is the speed limit itself, not the drivers who adhere to it.

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.

History and research over 70+ years of using 85th percentile methodology shows that the 85th percentile posted limits usually result in the smoothest and safest traffic flow with the fewest accidents. It is the entire reason that the Michigan State Police and MDOT use the method - it is the best. Many cities don't want to set the safest speed limits, generally for two main reasons. 1) Artificially low posted limits facilitate lucrative speed traps. 2) Most of the public does not understand the science of traffic safety engineering so they ask for artificially low limits in the false belief that this actually causes traffic to go slower and be safety, which it does NOT do. It is easier for local officials to go along with improper requests from citizens that make things more dangerous than it is to explain the science. Re-electability becomes more important to many local officials than improving safety. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Basic Bob

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

This *odd notion* is completely understandable to me. Drive down Michigan Avenue toward Saline anytime and you are likely to encounter one out of ten drivers that goes 38 in a 55. After a mile or two with the other 9 drivers backed up behind, even the most cautious drivers start looking at passing zones, pullouts, shoulders, and suicide lanes for a way around these slowpokes. Increasing enforcement is costly, arbitrary, and doesn't stand up in court.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

If Mr. Bodary had asked me -- apparently I missed his request for input -- I would have told him that this is a common-sense reform that is long overdue. That's not too extreme, I hope.

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 2:55 a.m.

For akronym: You might want to download the State Police booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" from the state website at and read the science of 85th percentile speed limits. I can assure you that the state police department responsible for traffic safety statewide does NOT think the method to increase safety is "broken". The National Motorists Association and the State Police want the same goals for posted speed limits - ones that reflect the actual traffic speeds because that is what almost always produces the highest safety, the smoothest traffic flow, and the fewest accidents. Jim Walker, NMA


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 6:15 p.m.

The idea that Ypsilanti City Council is pushing for not increasing speed limits for the sake of revenue from ticketing is ludicrous. YPD is running on bare bones staff and does not have anything resembling the resources to simply sit and wait for speeders. The City Council is against these increases because they recognize that the 85th percentile metric used to justify the change is broken. It does not take into account the culture of the area through which the roads pass (even though the article incorrectly states that it does). Mr Walker you can cast about your baseless and frankly idiotic judgments all you want. You're anti-traffic law, anti-seatbelt legislation agenda is outdated and absurd.

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Many local officials want artificially low posted limits, partly for the speed trap revenue and partly because they and their constituents don't understand that artificially low posted limits do NOT change traffic speeds but DO cause the areas to have less smooth and less safe traffic flow. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1:15 p.m.

"30 mph on East Michigan Avenue from Hamilton Street to the Huron River. Existing speed limit: 30 mph" change? Why is it listed if there is no change?

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

The reason that the areas without changes are listed is that they are part of the overall Traffic Control Order (TCO) for the area. When the TCO is changed, a new document is filed and it must show all the segments, both those with changes and those that stayed the same. The official TCO is filed with the county clerk and becomes the legal basis for speed enforcement. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Katrease Stafford

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Grimmk, MDOT and MSP officials suggested posting the list in its entirety so readers and residents would know that in some areas, the speed limits are not increasing due to various factors-- mainly because of high pedestrian traffic.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

While they are at it, why not increase the speed limit from 25 mpr to 40+ mpr in residential neighborhoods since that's what people are driving now. I'd like to have $1 for every driver who races past my house at a high rate of speed, because I'd have a big pile of money by the end of the day.


Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 12:35 a.m.

No, Tom, they are "short cutting" by racing from Mansfield to Summit to avoid the traffic on Cross and Washtenaw.

Tom Todd

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Throw a rock at there car that might slow them down, darn people in a hurry to get in there driveway.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1 p.m.

I find it hilarious that when the discussion is about something city council wants, like a Water Street millage or an income tax, it's facts and data. However, when the data doesn't fit their desires the rule of the day is opinion, feelings and hyperbole on the impending Carmageddon with a 5-10 mph speed increase.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

Unfortunately, the State Police seem to be focused on reducing the number of minor fender-benders at the cost of creating a more dangerous situation where crashes are more likely to kill people when they do happen. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable to increases in speed: a pedestrian hit by a car that is hit by a car moving at 30 mph has a 40% chance of dying. Raise the speed of the crash to 40 mph, and the likelihood of death rises to 80%. At 50 mph, the fatality rate is nearly 100%. (Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: It may be the case that minor, car-on-car crashes are reduced if the speeders are no longer tailgating law-abiding drivers, but at what cost? Would the State Police really prefer to scrape more bodies off the pavement than write up "vehicle damage only" crash reports?

Jim Walker

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 3:44 p.m.

Stuart Brown's analysis is exactly correct. On his last point that enforcement does not change the traffic flow speeds - that is precisely what predatory cities depend upon with their speed traps. Police can go week after week, month after month, year after year to the "fishing holes", the "sweet spots" where the posted limit is way below the 85th percentile speed and ticket safe drivers virtually at random for money. It is about MONEY, not safety. Ann Arbor is a terrible offender in this predatory process and has been for all the years since I moved here in 1962. Most main roads in Ann Arbor are posted at or below the 30th percentile speed, some as low as the 1st or 2nd percentile. Enforcement in these speed traps has nothing to do with safety, it is 100% about the MONEY. And, most of these speed traps are posted with limits that are illegal under state law. The city doesn't care about illegal enforcement of illegal posted limits, they just want the MONEY. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Stuart Brown

Fri, Jun 22, 2012 : 6:24 a.m.

Murph, Those who think they know what they are talking about are really annoying to those of us who do know what we are talking about. I will repeat a law of traffic flow as sure as Newton's law F=ma: raising underposted speed limits to the 85 percentile of free flowing traffic has no significant impact on average speeds. It does result in a substantial reduction in the rate of disobedence, so instead of 30% of the drivers driving at or below the posted speed limit, 85% are. Raising the posted speed to the 85 percentile does not result in more fatalities because the cars in question are already going the higher speeds you quote except some people are trying to obey the limit and hence clog the road. Control freaks hate this! Their whining is about as useful as complaining about the direction of gravity on Earth. The cognitive dissonance is really annoying. Believing the Earth is flat doesn't make it so and the fact that at some place at some time the majority of people agree that yes indeed, the Earth is flat does not change objective reality. Here is another really annoying factoid: the police enforcement of underposted speed limits has almost no impact on the probability that people will exceed the posted speed limit. Police enforcement of underposted speed limits is about as effective as the Salem Witch trials were at rooting out and eliminating witches--the reality is that millions of drivers have their Civil Rights violated every year for no good reason.

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

For murph and Duc d'Escargot The Traffic Services Section of the Michigan State Police is the department responsible to improve safety statewide. This job focuses more on reducing injuries and fatalities than on fender-benders. Michigan has a lower fatality rate than the nationwide average, in part because of the state police emphasis on setting the safest speed limits. To read the science, download their booklet "Establishing Realistic Speed Limits" from the state website at About 20 states publish documents about how to set the safest speed limits, and Michigan's is the clearest. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Duc d'Escargot

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 1:50 p.m.

I completely agree. I can understand the safety for motor vehicles traveling at consistent speeds, but what about the interface between pedestrian (and bicycle) traffic and motor vehicle traffic? Did MODT really take into account the pedestrian traffic near EMU, and the number of pedestrians who cross at locations other than crosswalks? And what about the quality of life for inhabitants of the residential areas? I feel badly for the homeowners on South Hamilton Street--that one-way stretch is now more or less a racetrack to the freeway and the Township.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:19 a.m.

Selfishly I wish they would look at two of my Pet Peeve speed traps: Holmes Road entire stretch....30-35 mph is insane. Perhaps that is why WCSD vehicle parks on a patch of grass roadside there daily. Can we say Speed Trap? School zone....fine. But there's no reason for the rest of the limit. My 2nd would be Cherry HIll Rd at Ridge Rd.....25 mph for a mile!! There's a small "village" with lots of vacancies and then corn field, and a Canton police car parked there 24/7! Come on...........that one has Speed Trap written all over it. That said, my record is clear for the past 40 years of driving.....but only due to dumb luck.

Jim Walker

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 4:21 p.m.

"sellers" is correct, the jurisdiction that owns the road has to take up the fight to make the changes. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

that officer lives on ch at the east end of that zone

Jimmy McNulty

Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:49 a.m.

I second the Cherry Hill Road argument. The speed limit drops from 45 mph to 25 mph at Denton. Ridiculous.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:31 a.m.

The county or city would have to take that up - not under state jurisdiction.


Thu, Jun 21, 2012 : 11:11 a.m.

Yikes, I wonder if the suggested 40 mph limit from the river to Johnson St (near the railroad bridge I think) takes into consideration the suggested Michigan Ave non-motorized crossing for the river bike/walk path. That to me is a scary idea. Otherwise I think most of these make sense. It is a lot like saying "everybody does it, so let's just make it legal. " Maybe we should use that argument for marijuana....and insurance covered birth control. :-) Happy Thursday! Cash