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 Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 5:45 p.m.

Seventh and Washington pedestrian refuge signs flattened 10 times in 4 months

By Edward Vielmetti

A report compiled by the City of Ann Arbor and returned in response to a FOIA request shows that the keep-right sign and the in-street pedestrian crossing sign at the corner of West Washington Street and South Seventh Street, which were installed for the first time on Oct. 8, 2009, have been reinstalled due to accidents 10 times since then.

A notice on the city of Ann Arbor's project page reads:

It has been brought to the City's attention that crossing Seventh St at Washington St is uncomfortable for pedestrians. ( Seventh St. at Washington St. Pedestrian Refuge Island.

The sign at the north side of the pedestrian island is in the path of southbound traffic on Seventh Avenue. Seventh has an awkward intersection with Huron one block to the north, and traffic going south can't see the pedestrian crossing very well, one of the reasons the pedestrian island was put in in the first place. Based on the repeated car-sign crashes noted below, it's not clear that the new island is doing its intended job.

Incidents are noted by date; where there is reporting or photos, they are noted. October: 16 (photo), 19 November: 4 December: 11, 16, 21 (photo), 23 (photo) January: 4, 13 (note), 20 (photo)

Each of the signs reinstalled were located on the north side of the island.

"There have been no changes in sign design or installation or other alterations that have been done since the first install", writes City Administrator Roger W. Fraser in a letter.

This intersection was noted in a previous column as one of the worst crossings for pedestrians in Ann Arbor.

Edward Vielmetti looks both ways before dashing across the street for Reach him at 734-330-2465.



Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

What is the purpose of these islands anyway? I grew up walking and riding my bike around town. You cross at intersections where there is a light. You take your chances if you cross where there is no light... cars have the right of way then. I think these islands are problematic for both pedestrians and vehicles, especially on roadways where there the speed limit is 35-40 and traffic flows (ie. Packard @ Easy Street). Furthermore, if police are overseeing these who is fighting the real crimes in town as we comtinue to cut police positions? Also, my tax dollars are being spent on fixing these rediculous islands over and over because people are not paying attention... dont we have better things to spend city dollars on then fixing something we didnt need in the first place?

Trevor Staples

Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 10:35 p.m.

I think this is the video referenced above: The law says that if a pedestrian is crossing the street, traffic must yield. Here's an Ann Arbor Chronicle article that spells it out. See the section titled Pedestrian Issues:


Fri, Feb 5, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

My experience that crossing this intersection with children is very unsafe, and I'd be hesitant to let a middle schooler cross on their own to Slauson. I'd also say that turning left off of westbound Washington on to southbound Seventh while driving is also dangerous and to be avoided (e.g. by cutting through Mulholland to Liberty and turning left at the light). I would like the city to look at putting a small roundabout here. (7th and Madison would be another good place for a roundabout.)


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 11:25 p.m.

Mr. Vielmetti, to Mr. Siden's comment, I don't believe that it is the law in Ann Arbor (in Michigan?) for cars to stop at pedestrian crosswalks (non-traffic light signaled crosswalks), unlike in some other jurisdictions. The marked (non-signaled) pedestrian crosswalks are to alert vehicles as to pedestrian crossing areas and to take care, but I do not think that cars are required to stop. Do you know or can you find out the answer to this question? Thank you.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

Spencer, can you try again with the link to the video? It's not showing up. Maybe the comment box doesn't allow URLs?


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:58 p.m.

I've also crossed this street thousands of times, and I frequently feel uncomfortable. It'll be clear when I start crossing, and then someone will come barreling through the light on Huron and all of the sudden it's scary. This is especially bad when crossing with children, who then get all wide-eyed and panic, unsure of which way to go... In my opinion, the fact that the sign keeps getting hit is just providing data as to how dangerous the intersection is. Even if it is as newswatcher commented, largely due to inattentive drivers (not the ones barreling through the intersection at Huron), it's still a hazard for pedestrians.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:09 p.m.

If the signs aren't safe from being flattened, neither are the pedestrians. Before someone gets run over, or the replacement cost of the signs exceeds the cost of the island, the design of the signs and of the island should be reconsidered. Isn't a symptom of insanity doing things over and over the same way but expecting different results to occur? Maybe it just needs to be removed.

Spencer Thomas

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 9:38 a.m.

Dan, I refer you to this video, which starts with school children trying to cross 7th at Washington. I'm of the opinion that the city should install a water-filled crash barrier at the head of the island, similar to those guarding the bridge deconstruction on Stadium over State.

News Watcher

Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 8:13 a.m.

I was actually on my way to work when I saw one of these accidents happen. A woman, busily yakking away on her cell phone, was heading west on Washington and turned onto Seventh without really paying attention. She would have ended up on Seventh prior to the installation of the island. Instead, she ended up on the island, mowing down the "bear to the right" sign. As I watched, she backed up off the sign, pulled her car into the intersection, parked, got out of the car (all while still on the phone), and then told whoever she was talking to she had to go. She then called someone, but whether it was the police, a tow truck, or someone else...?? If the sign is being plowed into repeatedly, I would hazard to say that it's due to driver inattention, just like in this case.


Thu, Feb 4, 2010 : 12:17 a.m.

I watched some idiot drive her SUV right into the signs, Don Quixote style.


Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 10:34 p.m.

Do you know the path of the vehicles hitting the signs --southbound, left turn from Washington, right turn from Washington? The right turn from Washington is very tight -- AAPS buses cannot turn there. Any information on the size of the vehicles hitting the sign?

Larry Siden

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 10:31 p.m.

If only drivers obeyed pedestrian crossing signs! I've never once seen a car stop for a pedestrian waiting to cross the road in A2. I try to do it myself, and believe it or not I've seen people just go around me, endangering the poor person trying to cross the road even more! When are the police going to start enforcing these crossings?

Dan Romanchik

Wed, Feb 3, 2010 : 6:50 p.m.

I'm sorry, but I don't really understand the need for this island in the first place. I've crossed Seventh Street there hundreds of times and have never felt uncomfortable doing so.