Banning bicycling on downtown sidewalks? Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje floats idea
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The bicyclist keeps pedaling as he splits the group of pedestrians ahead. Scenes like this have ended badly before, but all parties escape unscathed this time.
Sydney Loomis, the Jolly Pumpkin server exiting the door, says she's on alert knowing bicyclists are cruising up and the down the busy downtown sidewalk.
"It is dangerous because our door comes out and so we have to wait, and then we smash into them accidentally sometimes," she said. "So it is kind of annoying. We just come out really slowly."
"I've proposed it several times to our groups, and I'm going to check back and see how the conversation is going," he said. "If it doesn't get moving very soon, I'll certainly do it myself."
Hieftje, an avid cyclist who regularly rides with traffic in the streets downtown, said he doesn't think it's necessary for people to ride on the sidewalk. In fact, he thinks it's safer in the street.
"I have witnessed people careening down the sidewalk, trying to avoid pedestrians and knocking over three or four chairs in front of restaurants and going flying themselves," he said. "And we have had reports of people stepping out of doorways and being run into. A few years ago, we had woman with a broken arm who was smashed by a cyclist."
Hieftje brought up the idea of a new ordinance at the last Downtown Development Authority board meeting and received positive responses. He said it doesn't have to be a blanket ban.
"One of the objections I've heard is what about the family with the kids that wants to ride down to the library?" he said. "And I think we could probably figure out some exceptions. I'm not concerned about the 9-year-old on a bike. My concern is the person who's barreling down Street Street."
Hieftje said the ordinance, which would have to be approved by the City Council, could be worded in such a way so that families with children under a certain age could ride on the sidewalks without being ticketed. And as for others who don't like the idea of being pushed into the street, they still could choose to walk their bicycles on the sidewalks downtown.
The city already has adopted the Michigan Vehicle Code, which has rules for riding bicycles on sidewalks. The law states anyone operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk must yield to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing them.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
The law further states anyone lawfully operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk has all the rights and responsibilities of a pedestrian using that sidewalk or crosswalk.
As for the kind of city ordinance Hieftje is talking about, reactions are mixed. Some love it, some hate it, and some are in between.
Sandy Bledsoe, an avid cyclist in Ann Arbor, said traffic is so light downtown that it's silly to ride on busy sidewalks. Still, he's undecided on the idea of an ordinance banning riding on sidewalks.
"It could do more harm than good," he said. "For example, I've heard stories about laws making texting illegal actually making the problem worse and causing more accidents."
David Tapia-Vidal, another avid cyclist who commutes by bicycle through downtown Ann Arbor, said he's been safe riding with traffic in the street but he's still not in favor of the ban.
"There's an issue here, which is freedom," he said. "If you are cautious, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to practice the freedom of being in the sidewalk."
City Council Member Sandi Smith, who serves on the DDA board with Hieftje, said she would be in favor of an ordinance banning bicycling on downtown sidewalks.
"I do a lot of time on my feet on the sidewalks and there are conflicts — more and more are conflicts of bicycle and pedestrian, and the pedestrian is going to get hurt," she said. "I've been bumped."
Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, said she doesn't know if an ordinance banning bicycles on downtown sidewalks is needed.
"I'm hesitant to ever create laws that I don't know we could enforce," she said. "I would really need documentation that it was a consistent health hazard, as opposed to the people who go through red lights on their bikes, the people who blow through stop signs on their bikes — those are impossible for us to enforce and yet those are already against the law."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
"I won't support it because I think that's way far overreaching," he said of the mayor's idea. "There are other things happening on our sidewalks that are causing just as much problems. Maybe we shouldn't have such a liberal sidewalk vending permitting process."
Kunselman, who regularly rides his bicycle on downtown sidewalks, said he has faith Ann Arborites can be courteous and follow proper bicycling etiquette, like alerting others when they're passing.
"Whenever I'm in crowds on sidewalks, I go very slowly, put my feet down and kind of walk it and sometimes I get off and walk," he said. "I've never hit anybody."
Nicole Minzey, a server at Conor O'Neill's, spends a lot of time at the front door of the pub observing the flow of people on Main Street. She's never seen a bicycle-pedestrian accident.
"The only places I see accidents — there's quite a few on the Diag, bicycles hitting bicycles, bicycles hitting pedestrians. I've never seen any accidents here," she said.
A complex issue
Erica Briggs, who chairs the Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition, calls the idea of banning bicycles on sidewalks a complex issue. She said the topic has been talked about for a number of years because of the ongoing conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists downtown.
Briggs said the WBWC has no official position, but she thinks it's safe to say the group would not support a ban on bicycling on sidewalks throughout the entire downtown at this time.
"My personal viewpoint is that it might make sense to prohibit biking on sidewalks for adults in certain zones now," she said, mentioning Main Street between William and Huron, Liberty between Main and State, State between Huron and William, and South University between East University and Huron.
"These are dense pedestrian areas and a cyclist in this area could pose a risk to a pedestrian," she said. "Prohibiting riding on the sidewalk in short corridors would protect pedestrians, while still allowing and encouraging cyclists to travel to destinations throughout the downtown."
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Briggs believes the city needs to focus on greater education for both cyclists and motorists, increase enforcement of cyclists riding recklessly fast on sidewalks and ignoring traffic laws on the street, and commit to creating better infrastructure for cyclists downtown.
She said many bike-friendly cities have focused on developing "bike boulevards," which are streets intended primarily for bikers and walkers, and "cycle tracks," which are buffered bike lanes. She noted most downtown Ann Arbor streets lack bike lanes and "sharrows" are used instead.
Hieftje said he's looking forward to more discussion on the issue, including public hearings. He's convinced it's less dangerous for cyclists to be in the street than on busy sidewalks.
"I personally find there's really no problem riding in the streets of downtown Ann Arbor. The traffic is not moving at a rapid pace," he said. "If you're paying attention and you have any sophistication at all as far as a cyclist, it's not a problem to ride on downtown streets."
Hieftje said the city would have to put up signs to get compliance with the ordinance. As for adding more bike lanes downtown, he said that's not on the city's agenda.
"In the downtown area, we decided a long time ago that we weren't going to attempt to put in bike lanes everywhere," he said.
"You'll see bike lanes on streets like Division and Fifth," he said, "but on the other streets like State, for instance, there's no need for bike lanes. Traffic is creeping along anyway with the lights there."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.
Fri, Sep 21, 2012 : 4:39 a.m.
It would help if people on bikes actually knew how to 'share' the road... They're just as void of common sense on the side of the road as well as the sidewalks.
Sun, Sep 16, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.
Rather than banning anything, let's create wider bike lanes where we currently have cars parking alongside the roadways. Bicycle lanes are a way nicer buffer for the dining on the sidewalk.
Sun, Sep 16, 2012 : 12:14 a.m.
I don't think they should be banned , but if they hit and injure a pedestrian they should be held accountable.But we don't want a cyclist riding down the sidewalk smoking a cigaret, to be charged with a crime with penalities worse than given to rapists, muggers, home invaders etc. Who by the way, often get out with VERY minimal bails. I just hope the Ann Arbor mayor and City Council haven't been watching mayor Loonberg of NYC too much. God only knows what they might come up with next.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:15 p.m.
Well, apparently, we are not allowed to cite other news sources, so I cannot copy and paste. Either way, in Great Britain the BBC reported zero pedestrians killed by cyclists in 2009, but 426 were killed by cars. There were 13,272 collisions between bikes and cars in 2008, 52 of which resulted in a fatality for the cyclist. No drivers were killed.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:35 p.m.
1. Law if passed should apply to everyone, not excepting those who chose to have kids. 2. Where are the police hours going to come from to enforce this possible new law? Police don't even have enough to enforce speed limits and existing laws currently.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.
"forcing the pedestrians ahead to move out of the way" "as he splits the group of pedestrians ahead" "Scenes like this have ended badly before" "all parties escape unscathed this time" "cuts through pedestrians on a downtown sidewalk" The usual unbiased and objective reporting we've come to expect.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.
Know what would be good in this article? Some facts. Like the number of downtown bicycle-pedestrian accidents on sidewalks resulting in injury. That would be a lot more useful in assessing the problem than hundreds of anecdotal comments about "close calls". My guess is that it really isn't much of a problem.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 6:18 a.m.
Separated bike lanes would be ideal. Some cities have what is basically a second sidewalk for bikes to use. I usually ride near the curb, where pedestrians don't walk, when traffic is heavy, and I do so slowly.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 6 a.m.
How about bike lines on sidewalks?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:53 a.m.
Oh god please no. I'm sorry. They belong on the sidewalk NOT on the roads with cars. Here is why: If a bike "pedestrian" hits another pedestrian they'll get some bumps and bruises. If a bike has a run in with a CAR it will likely end in death or the biker being physically handicap for the rest of their lives. The road is for CARS. Putting more bike paths on roads will only increase fatality or injury of bikers. Bikers are not encapsulated in 2,000 pounds of plastic and steel. Most even don't use helmets! How are they supposed compete with cars and trucks? Keep them on the sidewalk where they will be safe(er).
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:22 a.m.
To add gravity to my last point, I don't know anyone who has even been hit by a bicyclist, much less severely injured. I know FOUR who have been KILLED by cars, along with TWO more who had dozens of bones shattered and spent weeks in a coma.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:18 a.m.
For every near-scrape with a bicyclist there is a fatal collision with a car. Everyone is sharing their stories about their close calls with bikes, but if we changed the topic to car crashes, we would have far more stories, and ones that ended in fatalities. 1 out of 80 Americans will DIE after being struck by a car.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:05 a.m.
Why not just set a speed limit on sidewalks? It's not like someone sprinting down the street is less of a threat for collisions than someone peddling along at the pace of a stroll on his or her bike. There's no excuse to ban bicycling responsibly on the sidewalk at the same pace as a pedestrian. It is much safer for the bicyclist, and poses no risk to pedestrians - speaking from experience. I've done it for 10 years and never so much as bumped anyone or even come close to it happening, but I've had countless close calls with cars, as I've already stated.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:57 a.m.
I should add that a friend who has bicycled to work for decades here has started driving after being hit for the THIRD time. I stopped riding my bike in the street because of almost being hit repeatedly, and enduring drivers screaming threats (along with the obligatory "GET OFF THE ROAD"), throwing food and sodas, and trying to force me off the road.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:53 a.m.
Yeah. People on flimsy pieces of aluminum belong among the 10 ton dump trucks roaring by at three times their speed. But don't worry, we painted some flaking lines in the gutter for you, you have your own lane. Cars don't swerve, it's not like we have people in a rush passing recklessly, or eating cheeseburgers while driving with their knees, or texting about the latest Bieber album while sipping off their beer helmet.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.
Absolutely not! When a pedestrian gets hit by a bicyclist, the result is a few scrapes and bruises. When a bicyclist gets struck by a car, the probable result is death at speeds over 35mph, which are common around downtown Ann Arbor, especially among the type of drivers likely to hit someone. Low speeds do not indicate safety either - I have personally witnessed two hit and runs on Main Street where a bicyclist was ran over and badly injured at no more than 10mph, know someone who was killed a while ago in another city, have a friend with a steel shoulder and hip who spent 2 weeks in a coma, and a wife who was struck in a hit and run in another town with much slower, more respectful drivers. What about people who live downtown and use a bicycle as a result of a physical disability that causes tremendous pain when they spent too much time walking (the brushing of clothes triggering nerve pain from nerve damage)? Should they be required to get off their bike and walk (trapping them in their homes, because walking 1-2 miles a day is not an option) or risk their lives among the drunks, texters, and road ragers that are all too common in our downtown area?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.
Bikes don't belong on sidewalks with pedestrians.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:19 p.m.
Stupid...just like the pledge law coming out of Lansing
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:12 p.m.
@ Mayor Hieftje - RE: "I personally find there's really no problem riding in the streets of downtown Ann Arbor. The traffic is not moving at a rapid pace," he said. "If you're paying attention and you have any sophistication at all as far as a cyclist, it's not a problem to ride on downtown streets." Glad to hear that ONLY cyclists who pay attention and have ANY SOPHISTICATION have not problems riding their bikes downtown. What about the law-abiding cyclists who are "just normal people"? I'd like to take our Elitist Mayor along on my daily commutes through Ann Arbor. I wonder what he'd say when he sees a motorist shout threats at me for riding in the street. I wonder what Hieftje would have to say when a motorist cuts me off ON THE ROAD and stops in front of me to force me ONTO THE SIDEWALK. Most of all: I want Mayor Hieftje to explain the reasoning which led to restaurants creating MAJOR IMPEDIMENTS FOR ALL with their sidewalk seating. Lacking "sophistication" I have to ask: Since when does the city approve sidewalk seating which creates "sidewalk jams" and then create ordinances directed at the people using THOSE SIDEWALKS. I guess we've got to accept being robbed of public sidewalk space while also being "policed" (something we also pay for) because we're USING those public sidewalks. It would be interesting to see how Mayor Hieftje gets his campaign funding. One wonders how many restaurant owners are contributing to that fund and those of other city officials. It IS a wonder how restaurant owners get to use public sidewalks to increase their private seating capacities and still get to say who's welcome on Main Street and who's NOT. (Particularly since our Mayor thinks banning bikes from sidewalks should be a city-wide mandate.) Nothing like a little more Ban-O-Mania to make us feel like we're living in Dystopia.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:11 p.m.
Whatever I might have thought about this, my attention to the issue was brought into focus today as I stood at the intersection of Liberty and Division (post office side, no restaurants and tables). Just as I prepared to step forward to the crosswalk, a cyclist using the sidewalk whisked forward in front of me so fast that she made a little wind current. One step forward and I would probably have been injured, perhaps severely. (She had just come through the Division/Liberty intersection with the light). I'm glad that I escaped injury. Perhaps she did too. But she evidently considered a clot of pedestrians on the corner as unimportant to her progress. Her rate of travel was very fast. I think at a minimum, cyclists should walk their bikes through intersections, especially or perhaps only when using the sidewalks. (I did when I used a bicycle.) I'd also like to note that I observed recently several occasions when street-traveling cyclists carefully observed signals and behaved appropriately at intersections. Wanted to throw roses. Or chocolates?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11 p.m.
It's like he sits around and worries that he isn't exercising his power enough as mayor. Just chill, man. Let it be.
Elaine F. Owsley
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.
Come on Ann Arbor, get with it. Dexter has been bikeless on the sidewalk for decades.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.
I know Dexter, Ms. Owsley, and Dexter is no Ann Arbor.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.
I've been missed by inches when a bicycle barreled down the Huron sidewalk at 4th and Huron. Once just stepping around the corner into the speeder's path, another time just walking and the bicycle coming up behind me at a high rate of speed. It is very dangerous downtown (1) walking on sidewalks with bicycle riders and (2) crossing intersections with a green signal but motorists turning left and speaking on cell phones at the same time. Perhaps enforcement of the six-foot rule between buildings and restaurant chairs would help. The chairs may be six feet away from the building, but when people pull them out from under tables, there no longer is room for three people to walk abreast, even without servers standing next to the building. Particularly bad example is Grizzly Peak.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.
Ryan - your survey is poorly designed - no option for 'Yes'. As one commenter said: sidewalks are called sideWALKS for a reason. Then again, in the fine tradition of the Ann Arbor News, this wasn't designed to really elicit valid opinions. Hi Laurel !
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.
I totally agree, i saw a woman bike off the diag across north university at night and the guy turning left off state street couldn't have even seen her before smashing into her and sending her flying. But at the same time you have aggressive drivers and roads without bike lanes that make people uncomfortable to bike on.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:08 a.m.
The bike lanes are worthless, they just painted a line in the gutter. Every time I travel through downtown Ann Arbor I see drivers swerve into empty bike lanes to pass someone - emphasis on their perception of empty. If they don't see someone that is there, they will still think it's empty, and swerve and hit them...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.
Please stop banning things. Just stop.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.
Unfortunately, a lot of adult and university bikers ride their bikes too fast and haphazardly on these narrow sidewalks. They oftentimes are rude in cutting in between people and barrowling down the sidewalk forcing me to stop or step aside to allow them to pass. So I voted that this ban should take place in certain areas only. I myself refuse to ride my bike on the road because I don't trust A2 drivers. I focus on bicycling on Huron Pkwy going to the park and such for exercise. Although I realize that riding the bike is a main activity for a lot of people in the A2 area, we need to address the aggressive riding behavior of many bicyclists, esp in downtown A2 and around campus.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:14 a.m.
Why not just require people to ride their bikes at reasonable, safe speeds? There are those who have to use a bike because of nerve injuries (the motion of walking for more than a half mile can cause severe, lasting pain), but are responsible enough to ride their bikes not much faster than a brisk stroll, and are very conscious of the presence of doors, blind driveways, etc.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.
Bicyclers can ride in the street, they just need the proper safety equipment. A rear-view mirror really helps. Try wearing a reflective vest. A red flag helps amplify the hand signals. http://i134.photobucket.com/albums/q119/hotbike/IMG_1258.jpg
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:16 p.m.
One afternoon when my daughter was about seven years old she and I came walking out of the parking structure on Maynard. As we stepped onto the sidewalk a bicycle came at us from our right. The cyclist was traveling at a good clip and was unable to stop completely in time to avoid us and the bike made some contact with my daughter who was holding onto my right hand. Fortunately she was not badly hurt and the cyclist was very apologetic but we were very shook up and I was struck with just how dangerous bicycles can be in such a setting.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.
I want pedestrians jaywalking across the crosswalk to watch out for me on a bike. I can't tell you how many times pedestrians just waltz into the crosswalk when I have the green light, forcing me to stop quickly or swerve. We may not be as heavy and fast as a car but if a bike hits you, you are going to feel it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.
The sidewalk is for pedestrians. The road is for vehicles. Bikes are vehicles. Therefore they belong in the road. Note I am an avid bike rider and have ridden in the street since I was 14, including in downtown Chicago, Ann Arbor, the Detroit suburbs... everywhere.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.
Everywhere? You've ridden on the moon!?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:51 p.m.
I had the pleasure of experiencing the 16th street mall in Denver on a recent trip. This formerly major street through their downtown is now a pedestrian mall except for free (yes, FREE) shuttle buses and horse-drawn carriages. The mall is full of people, restaurants have outdoor service, the street is beautiful and relatively quiet. Face the fact -- Eating outdoor is popular. People enjoy sitting outdoors in beautiful weather. We could consider closing Main Street to vehicle traffic from William to Huron, routing traffic onto Fourth and Ashley. Business can be serviced by the alley ways. http://www.denver.com/16th-street-mall/
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.
Probably the most sensible comment made including my rant earlier. Main Street from WIlliam to Huron is always grid lock. I take Ashley going northbound and First St going south. Anywhere but Main Street unless it's before 6 AM. The point is, traffic could always be diverted as you suggest. It would probably flow better. I second your idea.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.
Seems like the explosion of sidewalk seating at restaurants (1) expands private territory onto public sidewalks and (2) thereby adds a new complication to the simple pleasures and economies of bicycle travel. Nothing is said about this "bright new business trend" being solely the "initiative" of over zealous restaurant owners. Just because something like that becomes popular doesn't mean it's RIGHT. If downtown restaurants are to be given this privilege, why have any restrictions on bars regarding how they sell their booze? Isn't it popular and more convenient to dispense with onerous Liquor Control laws altogether? AnnArbor dot com should produce a video showing the downtown sidewalks during early evening - it wouldn't take long to show how these "sidewalk cafes" hinder and even endanger PEDESTRIANS as well as those lounging on OUR public sidewalks. City government signed off on this lobbying-based initiative, giving away our public sidewalks to the restaurant owners & their patrons. Let city government find their way of of the corner they've painted themselves into. Meanwhile - I'm not interested in hearing how bad it is for the late-comer, trend-followng crowd. BEFORE sidewalk cafes: the sidewalks along Main St. were quite adequate for both pedestrians and cyclists. As for forcing cyclists to exclusively use only streets here: FIRST provide the same level of convenience and safety provided in other cities for cyclists on our streets. As it is, there's a sense of entitlement at work no matter what. Our mayor may want to take another look at what happens in the long run when cyclists end up competing with motorists ON the streets here. His "accident free" days may come to an end the first time a cell phone using driver fails to notice him in time to avoid smashing him to the pavement. What'll he say then??
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.
Mr. Mayor, Don't try to stimulate or improve the economy in Ann Arbor. That would take time away from coming up with new laws for idling cars, bicycles on sidewalks, public art fiascos, and all the other things that are much more important.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:44 p.m.
first they make lanes on the streets for bikes. then then say they should obey the same laws as auto's. now they say should we keep them off streets downtown. either do that or allow auto's to use the sidewalk. they need to either ride on sidewalks for stay in the streets and use the bike lanes. if no lanes stay in the street.
Elaine F. Owsley
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:46 p.m.
How about they walk their bikes through crowded areas? Or is that too old fashioned?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.
It's nice to see that the mayor has already done something about the home invasions, armed robberies, muggings, terrible road conditions, and all the other problems this city has, and can now spend his time dealing with inconsequential issues. Oh, wait....
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:20 p.m.
Not sure about the proposal, but if there's an ordinance banning Hieftje from downtown, I'm all for it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.
What's next? Will the mayor propose that Ann Arbor should be an automobile free zone? Don't drivers pay taxes/fee's to drive on the road? Maybe the mayor and his cyclist friends should start paying the same as the automobile drivers then I wouldn't get so upset when they bike like they own the road...
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.
No objection to some sort of licensing/fee system here, @roiwhite. I don't think it should be the same rate, since current vehicle registrations are based at least in part on vehicle weight as consideration of wear and tear on road surfaces, but it seems reasonable that cyclists should bear some cost for maintaining, and possibly improving, roadways that can be safely shared by motorized and non-motorized vehicles. $10-$20 per year wouldn't make much of a dent in my budget, and unsafe road conditions are much more likely to make a dent in my person.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:24 p.m.
For God's sake, don't give them any ideas.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:16 p.m.
They need to ban unicycles on the sidewalk. The guy who pedals that one down Main near Huron is a jerk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:13 p.m.
Apparently there used to be an ordinance against riding bicycles on the sidewalk, as evidenced by the case against Hartwig H Herbst: http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/159787 Local Brevities - First column, fifth paragraph down (initial report) Second column, 14th paragraph down (details about his trial)
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:10 p.m.
Do it! Ban it! And while you're at it, ban EVERYTHING ELSE! I seldom go downtown anymore because the parking situation is so awful. I cancelled several memberships to businesses downtown in protest to the parking. A bike ban would keep me away completely. I know that the ultimate goal here is making everyone rely on public transportation. A2 seems to worship mass transit, which we not only have to pay for even if we own other means of transport, but which run on a city controlled schedule. Just another layer of control. In a city that's supposed to be all about freedom. Sad.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:30 a.m.
And what if you live downtown...?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 8:54 p.m.
Nice rant, best to avoid downtown.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.
Bicycles in Ann Arbor are old news: A Bicycle Ordinance Needed Ann Arbor Argus, April 30, 1897 http://oldnews.aadl.org/node/145440
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:59 p.m.
I think we could solve the problem if we require pedestrians to wear flashers while cyclists repeatedly announce "flashers spotted but I may not stop", and we alternate roles on bicycle/pedestrian mutual awareness Tuesdays on alternating months except leap-year when cars use the sidewalks while running on something other than fossil fuels. Anticipating the obvious concern, we rarely get out-of-towners in Ann Arbor, so we shouldn't worry this might be confusing to them, as self-evident as it may be.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.
Thanks YpsiLivin - until now, I've never noticed the passing resemblance between John Cleese with the Pythons and the mayor with city council. This will help my brighten my perspective on future local legislation. BTW, I consistently vote "Very Silly Party".
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.
Perhaps the City could hire a consultant from the Ministry of Silly Walks on an implementation strategy.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:58 p.m.
Downtown sidewalks should be for foot traffic only. They are a hazard to all foot traffic and there's really no room for them. Traffic itself moves quite slowly and we're not talking I-94 speeds here. Futhermore, all streets and avenues with bike lanes should be stirctly enforced. Cyclists should not be allowed to ride on sidewalks where these bike lanes exists. For those opposed, don't give me the lame excuse that the bike lanes are too narrow. Packard Ave between Stadium and Main Street comes to mind. The exception would be any residential neightborhood. Violaters should pay a $50 or $100 fine if caught. Double and triple for repeat offenders. A good way for the city to get more revenue.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:28 a.m.
What if you live downtown and can barely walk as the result of a nerve injury? Should you have to go get creamed in the street by 4000 pounds of steel?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.
RE: " Packard Ave between Stadium and Main Street comes to mind." -- just need to inform you, that stretch of bike lanes didn't exist until a few years ago and that stretch of road existed for DECADES w/o such bike lanes. Oh, and they finished the bike lanes on Packard from Stadium southward after that - so I rode for years on the sidewalks to get to work every day. This was to avoid threats by motorists who INSISTED I must stay on the sidewalk and attempts by some motorists to "head me off" by pulling in front of me and stopping dead. Finally: I ride "as best as I can" following existing law - until I have to do business on Main Street or State Street: then I lock my bike and walk one block to my destination. Not a big deal at all: and at least you specify "downtown sidewalks" rather than the city-wide ban several people are ranting for. Thanks for that.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:54 p.m.
I look at it this way. What's more dangerous, a biker running into a pedestrian or a car running into a biker? There you go. I think bikes should be on the sidewalk whenever possible.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.
"And let's be honest here - riding your bike down the sidewalk on main or riding it down the road on main is a dumb idea." What a radical idea, @hail. There may be places and/or times that one simply shouldn't ride a bicycle, and routes should be selected accordingly. That comes dangerously close to the whole "common sense" argument, though, so it will probably remain a radical and mostly unused idea.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:29 p.m.
So Milton, will you stop, apologize and give me $20 for the lunch you destroyed or will you just keep riding away and not acknowledge what you just did? I know what the average biker in this town would do.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:26 a.m.
Machine, as a bicyclist, I would much rather be struck by a sandwich at 10-20mph than 4000 pounds of steel (as the average American car weighs) at 40mph.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.
I'm not saying that bikes should have free range on sidewalks - obviously there are some rules and stipulations that should apply. They are a vehicle.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.
Next time I'm walking back to the office with lunch in hand when some inconsiderate biker zips past me on the sidewalk (without warning) and knocks my lunch out of my hand, I may become more dangerous to that biker than a car would be.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.
I don't contradict myself at all. Riding on the sidewalk is always safer - period. Getting hit by a car on a bike is 1000 times worse than a bike hitting a pedestrian. Riding down main street is a dumb idea all around - on the sidewalk or on the street. But still, even in this case, riding on the sidewalk on main is more safe than riding in the street on main. My point? Don't ban anything especially the safer of the two options. I have no problem slowing down for a biker either FYI.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5 p.m.
You contradicted yourself. As a driver, I'd rather slow down and give space to a cyclist on the road then a pedrestian yielding to a cyclist on the sidewalk in the downtown area streets.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.
And let's be honest here - riding your bike down the sidewalk on main or riding it down the road on main is a dumb idea. It's a busy road with no space and parking on both sides and the sidewalks are full of people. Either go around it, or walk your bike down that street. That's the way I see it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.
I'm surprised by how many people voted against the exception for children. So you'd be happy to see flattened 5-year-olds as roadkill?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:52 p.m.
RedSchwinn, actually that might be a good point. Downtown is a relatively limited area; it's just so close to the neighborhoods that I saw merit in the article where it mentioned a trip to the library.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.
Not happy at all... but if a child is too young to ride safely in the streets, that child is probably too young to be riding downtown at all.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.
Dude, no one here in A2 is actually "for the kids". Most of the people downtown dislike children. The simple fact is that everyone sends their overprivileged brats here to college, they come out snotty, overprivileged, over educated 'adults'. But in the meantime, they make actual denizens of A2 hate kids/children with their behaviour. It can't be helped, they're products of thier environment...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:47 p.m.
The people who are supposedly happy bicyclists, who say it's safe to ride in the streets, instead of the sidewalks, I am guessing have never been flung into the air onto the pavement before. It isn't even safe for a person walking on foot, walking a bike, or entering a crosswalk, for any reason, to cross the street, let alone RIDE in the street. I have had motorists make left turns and right turns in front of me, once forcing me to run into the side of a car. I have had motorists hit me when I had a green light in my own crosswalk. The motorists speed around corners, run across sidewalks, going in and out of driveways. I have witnessed people actually driving down sidewalks, etc. What is someone on a bike, minding their own business, supposed to do? And, if a bicyclist is injured, or the bicycle is trashed, I have been told that this is a "no fault" state and that the motorist is, in no way, responsible for what they just did to that bicyclist. Not responsible? They've got that right...it is irresponsible. When I ride on a sidewalk, contrary to what picture is being painted of bicyclists, I am courteous to pedestrians. I try also to be courteous to motorists. When I rent a car, every now and then, I try to remember the "courtesy rules of the road". Though no one is perfect, everyone should try to get along with one another. I have also heard, as an excuse for bad behavior, "Well, it would be nice if we lived in a perfect world", etc. No one's talking about perfection. We're talking about the responsibility of people's lives...no matter if someone is behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, on a bike, on foot. No matter if someone is old, or a child or puppy crawling into the street. Also, I walk my bike whenever the situation arises, such as a busy sidewalk on a Friday night. Ann Arbor resident, Angela Todd
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:23 a.m.
Hit four times and you still think the sidewalk is dangerous?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.
Hi Angela, In the 40 years that I have been riding, racing and touring on bicycles I've been hit four times. I still ride on the streets and roads...obeying the traffic laws. For pedestrian safety...and my safety...I would never ride on a sidewalk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.
I wish there more responsible cyclists like you.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.
How about making the downtown with complete streets. Bike boulevards or bike lanes, especially going east west through downtown, is one common sense and cost effective way to solve this problem. We had a family member 'Doored' recently on one of the 'bike friendly streets' down town in front of the Earl. Knocked off the bike onto the on coming traffic lane, partially unconscious. One SUV driving next to them crowing, the other SUV flew open his door without looking. Totally unacceptable. We have bike lanes all over town but few in the downtown. Whats a biker to do? Park and walk 8 blocks? Lets finish the bike lane effort in a meaningful way. Or was only about just painting streets and getting listed in magazines. Walk you bike or ride very very slow on sidewalks if you must, till we get complete streets.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:23 p.m.
No, the vehicle owners have to park 16 block away at a parking garage, which is 3 blocks further than if they had left their car in their garage and walked. And yes, Vinnie, it was "only about just painting streets and getting listed in magazines..." Because it in the eyes of A2 city government appearance is more important than substance.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.
"We have bike lanes all over town but few in the downtown. Whats a biker to do? Park and walk 8 blocks?" Isn't that what vehicle owners do all the time?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4 p.m.
Until the city of AA starts ticketing bicyclists who ride in the road and routinely break traffic laws, is it really a good idea to put more law breaking bikers in the roads?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.
law breaking bikers: the term denotes an outlaw on a motorcycle. You probably meant - cyclists. Which provokes a question: is ticketing cyclists that simple? 4-5 days a week, I see cyclists running red lights WHILE I'M STOPPED THAT THE SAME SIGNAL ON MY BICYCLE. I can't ticket them, I don't have police authority. And they're gone in a flash - without having a single citizen get the chance of calling for police to come give them that ticket. Besides: I think it's the restaurants which gleefully accept their "right" to use public sidewalks for their own business which/who are at the bottom of this problem. A city-wide ordnance against bikes on sidewalks hardly seems necessary when (1) a lot of other countries don't have this problem and (2) only a few restaurants CAUSE the WHOLE problem of cyclist / pedestrian conflict during JUST warm weather dinner times!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.
..."the people who go through red lights on their bikes, the people who blow through stop signs on their bikes — those are impossible for us to enforce and yet those are already against the law."" uuhh...why is that impossible to enforce? Issue the ticket.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.
There's no more bike patrol that I can see. The only way to catch a bike is with a bike. And that is damned hard. Do you honestly think that the mechanics of a bicycle stop are the same as a traffic or pedestrian stop? Think about it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:56 p.m.
Maybe a good beginning would be simply to place signs on certain sections downtown that say "Bicycles must be walked on this block." This way, no one is actually banned from the sidewalk and biking families with children have the opportunity to teach a nice lesson in safety, politeness and civic responsibility.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:19 a.m.
Better would be "bicyclists must proceed at walking speed anywhere in town with heavy foot traffic." Some people have nerve injuries that don't allow them to walk more than very short distances, and live downtown, and would be housebound without the bike.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:57 p.m.
Vilage- If my memory serves me correctly there are some of those signs on a few downtown streets.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:41 p.m.
Oh, for crying out loud! How over-regulated can we be? Maybe we should just view other human beings as moving obstacles! Or maybe we should consider trying to be accommodating toward each other. What kind of a world do we want to live in?
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:28 p.m.
Yes, exactly! You get it!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.
Yeah. Right. Good luck making ANY change in Ann Arbor that might possibly inconvenience a bicyclist.... No matter how many pedestrians get run down by them. Doesn't City Council know that bicyclists OWN this town???
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.
Look up the term "paranoid schizophrenic" and you'll have your answer. :-)
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.
100% for it. Bikes have no buisness on busy sidewalks.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:18 a.m.
What about people who live downtown and need to use a bike because they can't walk more than half a mile without ending up in terrible pain for days as the result of nerve damage? They can ride slower than most joggers...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.
You mean: bike riders (aka: cyclists). Besides, you're dead wrong: every week I do business and it involves traveling by bike on busy sidewalks. What about the 'business" which creates pedestrian traffic jams by using sidewalk space as "floor space" for the business? Does business (restaurants) have any business using public sidewalks for private profit? Remember too: the safest sidewalks are those which are perfectly empty of all traffic. So let's declare our sidewalks "cement preserves" and be done with it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.
OR...we could ban car from downtown...move the pedestrians into the street...and let the cyclists have the sidewalk. Oh, wait, that's called "Art Fair"! Never mind...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:21 p.m.
can we PLEASE do something about JAYWALKING in this city!
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.
Honeybunny, the police can't do anything about J-smoking in this town, let alone Jaywalking, Not that I want them to do either, but there just isn't enough of the men and women in blue to handle the real crime, let alone the trivial stuff like biking on a sidewalk or jaywalking. Police are for dealing with criminals, not this petty crap!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:34 p.m.
I guess you haven't been to New York. Get over it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:16 p.m.
The poll is missing a "Yes, everywhere downtown" option.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:14 p.m.
I ride my bicycle 50-100 miles per week in Ann Arbor. It would never occur to me to ride on the sidewalk. I'm with the Mayor on this one... I know, that's pretty rare for me! Regardless whether it's a kid or adult on the bike...the speeds involved with riding a bike are just too fast for a side"walk". Ann Arbor is a bike friendly city (not like Portland, OR, but we're getting there.) so ride your bike in the bike lane where you belong!
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:15 a.m.
You can slow down and ride a reasonable pace for a sidewalk. I do it every day. I never have scared anyone.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.
I ride about the same amount as you, but have a markedly different perspective. Your judgement is that "bikes move too fast" (for pedestrian mixing). Well - explain then how the Japanese manage to have bikes & pedestrians on the same crowded downtown sidewalks (which make Ann Arbor's look almost vacant). Ann Arbor isn't Portland - that's true - but what other city has the same infrastructure and cultural adjustments compared to Portland? That's part of the point: we are NOT ready to provide for bicycle travel around Ann Arbor. I'm betting that the rest of the country isn't much better and is often worse. For that matter: Portland isn't Amsterdam, either. LOL! Besides, bike, cars, etc. have nothing to do with the public sidewalks being used by restaurants to increase their seating capacity at public expense. It was cute for a while but it's seasonal and is most used only around dinner time. Permanently banishing bike riders to inadequate & dangerous street conditions doesn't seem to be either just or rational - nor is it answering the real problem. Let those who created the problem (restaurant owners & city govt. official) find some other way to make their money. I'm not obligated to help them - at all
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.
Bicycles do not belong on sidewalks where pedestrians walk. Stop coddling the bicyclists Ann Arbor. It is also apparent on the whole that they have no respect for the traffic laws that they are supposed to follow. When was the last time you saw one stop at a stop sign or stop light?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:14 a.m.
4000 pounds of steel traveling at 35+mph versus someone with no airbags and no crush zones riding a flimsy 10 pound piece of aluminum at 10mph... do the math.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.
What cyclists "apparently on the whole" do has little to do with the obstacle created by overcrowded sidewalks on Main Street during dinner hour during warm weather, does it? If anything, the use of public sidewalks by anyone just to add "seating capacity" appears to be the underlying problem. What was created can be destroyed, especially when public tax money pays for paved sidewalks. "Bicycles do not belong on sidewalks" - has appeal but that's a broad assertion which ignores some contrary evidence. Such as: there are literally millions of people right now easily mixing modes of transportation without ANY sign of the conflict which your comments imply. Fact is: we in the U.S. simply haven't set up an infrastructure which can support your assertion, nor do we have the necessary cultural orientation (civil cooperativeness, good citizenship, bike friendly attitude). There's a lot more to do than ban a particular kind of vehicle from small patches of town. Bicycles belong: where they're needed to serve as transportation.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 8:02 p.m.
The last time I saw one stop at a stop light was this morning, when I stopped at State and Ellsworth. Same road, same rules... everybody play fair. As a dedicated bicycle commuter, I'm just as frustrated as most drivers when I see cyclists blow through any regulated intersection, without regard to the applicable regulation. But it's easier to notice the violators tnan those who do comply. We compiersare out there on the road every day. Radlib2 offers all the typical rationalizations, and one can only hope that doesn't result in some big, albeit rational, accident someday. I repeat, Same road, same rules... everybody PLEASE play fair.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.
We don't' stop, because we arn't cars! We're more like robust pedestrians. Those signs are ment to regulate vehicular traffic. This is why the cops don't care. They realize that we are no threat to public safety. Two ton cars, however, are. They must stop. Also, virtually all drivers do rolling stops, speed,turn without signaling, exc., which are far more dangerous.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.
I don't think the bike riders on the sidewalks are "bicylists". They are mostly kids or lardbutt adults.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.
While walking, I have never passed a bicyclist on a sidewalk downtown!
Billy Bob Schwartz
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3 p.m.
Coming out of a business, I always make a complete stop, peek around the corner, and try not to get hit by a bicycle. Then I go onto the sideWALK. If a bike comes at me, I brace my feet, hunker down, and get ready to deliver to the bike whatever its rider delivers to me. I don't have many problems with them.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.
Because you realize that it is up to you to 'life proof' your own life. Good on you.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.
Cyclists should get off of the sidewalk and into the streets, but a ban isn't needed. One has to expect that rules will be broken in favor of custom. We see it happen all the time.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:36 p.m.
Yes, a public advisory of some sort! Not a bad idea.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.
Bikes on the sidewalk are an annoyance, but not really a problem. It crops up like 3 months out of the year, thanks to a small handful of inconsiderate riders. I cycle the streets myself, and share Hiefje's view that it's much safer, not to mention efficient. I also don't like to feel like I'm terrorizing pedestrians. I think the answer is greater awareness of laws and etiquette for cyclists; sections in elementary school would be great, but even simple signage on the busiest downtown sidewalks reminding cyclists to "be courteous and walk your bike" or something might help. Punitive, randomly enforced, inhospitable laws that are misunderstood should be a last resort.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.
I give you a thumbs up: but most add that, in the case at hand, the whole situation started when the restaurant owners in a SHORT STRETCH of Main St. co-opted the sidewalks (wide ones) along that stretch to use for their own profit. Adding floor space and seating capacity by "borrowing" public sidewalks is just plain STUPID and more than a little "self interested."
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.
How about we make bicycling on the road less intimidating? Other bike-friendly cities have simply added things like left-turn boxes and have CONSISTENT bike lines. Not like Ann Arbor ones that start and stop randomly. There's is a reason people use the sidewalk when they bike. Just make it easier to use the street and there will be less traffic on the sidewalk!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.
Biking on the sidewalk is usually not a good idea. BUT, so is biking on Main street. The lanes are narrow and drivers on main street get annoyed because bicycles can delay them. Too bad they couldn't just fix the problem with bike lanes downtown. That would also annoy people with more construction though. There is no easy answer, except to basically avoid biking downtown and stay on the outer streets. Fortunately we have bike lanes in most of the city, which is a huge plus for someone like me, who bikes 200+ days a year. Most people are conscious of bikes in A2, but I've encountered plenty of hostile reactions from more sedentary-looking (i.e. portly) drivers.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.
We should keep in mind that anything that discourages cycling (with the usual effect being to promote use of a car) makes everyone less safe. This is especially true of mandatory helmet laws and bike licensing laws, but I believe that it would apply to a sidewalk ban as well. With effective education, people who ride on the sidewalk will eventually build up the courage to move to the streets. If they are told they simply cannot ride on the sidewalk, some will move to the streets, but some will simply stop biking. Either they will stop going downtown or they will drive there, neither of which are preferable. The city should be doing everything it can to promote cycling downtown, including adding bike lanes and sharrows, designating specific blocks/streets for biking and walking, and providing resources for educating all people on bike safety. A ban like this is no substitute for actual leadership.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:11 a.m.
Yep, aren't we supposed to be a green city? And besides, the traffic downtown is always terrible for a city of this size. Less cars would be a good thing, right?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.
What's wrong with wearing a helmet??
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.
Not sure who voted you down Joe, you seem to have the best grip on this page of the situation. Good for you, and to the morons who disagree with you, I'd like to see their lame, heavy handed, not in my backyard, suburban-trogladyte solution. Carry on.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.
Unenforceable. Simple and plain. Also I wonder why Hieftje is so convinced that the streets are perfectly safe. I personally know two people who were struck by cars while riding their bikes through downtown... and that's just in the last two months. I doubt that I'm unique in that regard. Many drivers just don't respect bikes, or motorcycles for that matter, on the road.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:10 a.m.
Cars pulling out of driveways aren't a concern when you're a responsible cyclist and slow enough to be able to stop if one appears. True, a bike may be more visible and predictable in its movements on the road. But they're still being passed by vehicles 4000 pounds heavier (on average, given the typical American car) traveling anywhere from 2-6x faster.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:18 p.m.
Joe: " Bikes moving with the usual flow of traffic are predictable and visible..." -- Uh-uh, nope, I know drivers run into cyclists who're "following the rules" and that happens about as often as when cyclists take refuge by using sidewalks. That's because (1) drivers are lulled into inattention by several factors: including radio playing, smoking, snacking, and "texting" with cell phones. (2) BAD drivers' most common excuse after hitting ANY person (on bike or on foot) is: "I didn't see them." So for BAD drivers, the word "unexpected" shows the absence of "expectation" which is part of driver responsibility. EXPECT the unexpected. Besides, your comment has little to do with the risk created when restaurant owners co-opted the use of our SAFELY DESIGNED sidewalks during dinner hour, on a short stretch of Main St. during ONLY warm weather. One could make the same "unexpected" based argument for cyclists: WHO in their right mind expects to find a wait-person or wine-addled 'patron' suddenly appearing in their path? Apparently, few people in this town ever heard the admonition which goes: Look BOTH WAYS (before entering traffic lanes of any kind). :-)
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:22 p.m.
Cars are more likely to hit bikes when the bikes are in unexpected places, i.e. sidewalks, driveways, parking lots, crosswalks. Bikes moving with the usual flow of traffic are predictable and visible (assuming, if it's night time, that they have adequate lights).
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.
Ordinance or current law, I don't care which, I'd just like to see cyclists off the sidewalks in general. Also: in areas of the city where there are clearly marked bike lanes. As a runner, I've almost been hit more than once by cyclists paying no attention to where they're going along streets with bike lanes. The other gotcha: areas of the city where the street lights are left off at night, and where cyclists ride on the sidewalks in the dark, which is madness, especially on busy streets with oncoming traffic, where the light completely blinds you. I no longer use my neighborhood sidewalks after dark, after several near-misses with cyclists who apparently believe pedestrians don't exist.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:07 a.m.
Bicycles are more similar to pedestrians than bicycles are to cars. For now, they need to be on the sidewalks because a 10 pound aluminum frame travelling at 20mph tops with no crush zones or airbags does not stand a chance against the average 4000 pound American car. We need bike lanes with a real barrier to keep cars from swiping bicyclists. With aggressive drivers passing in the bike lane, inattentive drunks and texters drifting into the bike lane, people pulling into the bike lane to make turns, and cars parking in the bike lane to deliver mail, grab something from home, etc. it's no surprise people bike on the sidewalks. No one rides on the sidewalk for fun, it's inconvenient, annoying to dodge around the pedestrians, you can't ride fast, there's lots of bumps and zigzagging... they ride on the sidewalk because the road is so dangerous. Every serious bicyclist can tell you numerous scare stories where they almost got killed on the road. I knew four who are gone.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:40 a.m.
@Red, Pedestrians CAN run on the street. The proper direction for walking or running is facing traffic, it make it easier to dive out of the way for oncoming traffic which is not yielding to the pedestrian.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.
Another "gotcha" Matt: proclaiming your pet peeves based on your pet hobby (running) just invites replies such as: What about OTHER PLACES which have even greater numbers of cars, pedestrians and bicycles "mixing" but don't have these "big problems" with getting around to cooperative, sane travel conduct? Adding: you talk a lot about conditions under which you have these problems - but apparently think "human engineering" is your area of expertise. What about changing the conditions (unlit public thoroughfares being one)? Just FYI: any particular "group" involved in the current topic (which has little to do with your comments) knows all about the faults of every member of the OTHER GROUPS - and they're eager to share their criticisms of those others. A little self examination plus a little thought for other people's needs would seem to be the better way. And BTW: the topic is the use of the (purposely widened) sidewalks along both sides of Main St. between William and Washington Streets. A SHORT stretch which was always designed to be wide enough for business hours use by all kinds of human powered locomotion. That is, until sidewalk seating became IN THE INTEREST of restaurant owners. So what we have actually applies to just the dinner hour period over a short span of Main Street - and only during warm weather months. Who created the "Dinner Hour Congestion Problem" on Main Street?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:05 p.m.
OK, Matt, I'll work on getting my fellow cyclists to stay off the sidewalks and be more mindful of pedestrians, if you'll try to keep runners out of designated bike lanes... usually running the wrong way. My guess is that the proportion of mindless and downright rude runners is pretty much equal to that of mindless and downright rude riders.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:10 p.m.
Consider: if peds occasionally raised their arms full-span, the clotheslining of the occasional cyclist might occur with beneficial result. Confronting speeding bicyclers on sidewalks has shown them to be more righteous than contrite for their behavior.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:02 a.m.
Not as funny as being swatted by a bat-wielding cyclist.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.
Now that's funny!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.
Go for it. Bikes are vehicles and should be on the road. Yes, we need more bike lanes. but stay off the sidewalks.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:01 a.m.
The average American car weighs 2 tons, the average bike weighs 10 pounds. The average car is motorized and can break 100mph, the average cyclist uses only his or her own arms and legs and can't break 20mph. Do the math.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.
I'm a casual bike rider and not an "avid cyclist" and I'm scared to bike in many downtown streets after the many car-bike incidents I've seen around town. I do try very hard to be considerate of walkers when using sidewalks - but if it was required that I ride in the street, I'd certainly stop biking downtown.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:03 p.m.
Maybe the restaurants profiting from using the sidewalks should pay a fee or a tax that would finance more bike lanes in downtown, perhaps a percent of their hefty profits from each sidewalk table they use or by the square foot they monopolize... I LIKE this idea anbd it would certainly be justified. If you look at the plats for downtown, you will see that the sidewalk easements were (and still are) dedicated to the public use - why are we using them to subsidize for-profit restaurants? Why are we even talking about restricting public use?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:19 p.m.
I bet they already pay to use the sidewalk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.
Alleviate the problem naturally by installing more out-swing doors and giving canes to geezers visiting the sidewald cafes (they remember how the canes work).
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.
Canes can be used as a spoke adjustment tool.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.
What about kids and teenagers???!!! Banning bikes on the sidewalks would be a very serious safety problem for older kids and young teenagers - we want them downtown, don't we? And bikes are their main method of transport; but it is definately NOT safe for them to ride bikes in the street. They count too, yes?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.
What about reading???!!! It is mentioned in the article that younger citizens would still be able to use the sidewalks while bicycling.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.
Back in the 70s when I was in grade school, I regularly would bicycle, by myself, two miles from home to the public library along city streets. I never had a problem. I believe children are just as capable now as they were when I was a kid provided their parents teach them the necessary skills. Overprotective parents are more dangerous to children than anything they could encounter on city streets.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.
It is safer for kids to ride in the street for the same reasons that it is safer for adults. Parents with young children should be riding in the street with their children attached to or very close to them. When I ride with kids, I usually bike slightly to the left of them and behind them so I can keep an eye on them and keep them from wobbling out into the lane. Once kids are old enough to ride on their own, they are old enough to ride safely on the streets. Cyclists of all ages are far more likely to be hit when they are on sidewalks and crosswalks.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.
Maybe the first thing should be to fix the existing infrastructure and regulations to encourage more cyclists to ride in the street. I personally love having to leave the bike lane to ride in the traffic lanes due to bike-eating potholes and delivery trucks/cars parked in the bike lanes. So safe! The multi-use path along Plymouth Road is a wonderful idea, but the city really needs to be more proactive in maintaining it. There are too many large potholes. I know that there is an online pothole reporting system for the city, but it would literally take hours to report all of the ones I encounter on my 5-mile commute.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.
Wow, being even less logical than the mayor is a difficult feat but Stephen Kunselman appears to be a real contender. He seems to thinks we should get rid of the business and tax revenues generated by hundreds and hundreds of diners (not to mention the trafic they generate for other downtown businesses) while endangering employees, customers and any other pedestrians on Main Street, in order to make life better for a few bicyclists for the few months of the year when it is not too hot/cold rainy/snowy for this form of transportation. Amazing. Ann Arbor cyclists are regularly engaging in unsafe practices on the road, including red light running, stop sign running, riding the wrong way on one way streets (!) etc. etc. Why should they be putting pedestrians (producing even less GHGs than cyclists) as well?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.
@Joe, disregarding traffic control measures while riding a bicycle in the street is a violation of the Vehicular Code, and contributes mightily to the perception of motorists and pedestrians that cyclists are unpredictable and untrustworthy. In many instances, blowing through a stop sign when the cross street is visible and unoccupied may not be dangerous in the moment, but the impressions created don't help to create an environment in which people using different modes of transportation feel safe sharing the road. Same road, same rules. If you're going to use the streets, using them legally and, ultimately, safely.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:52 p.m.
I'm for anything that lowers any tax. If I didn't have to pay so much for a meal downtown because of the tax, I might well come down more. And as far as the GHG's go, just for you I'm going to go run my generator for a few hours to make sure it works. If you drink so much Kool Aid that you think the planet notices the difference between the heavy breathing of a runner/pedestrian and a cyclist, you are part of virtually every problem in the world today.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.
First, bicycling is a year-round mode of transportation for many people. Second, red light- and stop sign-running are not particularly dangerous. Riding the wrong way in the street, though, is incredibly dangerous and should be discouraged. Finally, you need a preposition with the word "putting" in the last sentence in order for it to make any sense.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.
I think the city has gone overboard in granting restaurants permits for sidewalk seating, in some cases creating potentially dangerous environments. Take for example the seating outside Mani Osteria that I noticed last week (I believe that's where it was). Patrons were sitting on tables located inches from the curb, this in an area where vehicles are turning left from Division onto Liberty. All it takes is for one car or truck to take the turn a little wide, or stall during the turn, and boom - no more outside dining. Way different than sitting outside one of the restaurants that is mid-block and maybe has parked cars blocking it from moving traffic. I also don't see the allure of sitting somewhere where vehicles are that close and you're getting a face full of exhaust fumes.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:23 p.m.
I feel you. Sometimes I feel bad for patrons when I stop at the Liberty and Main light. I've always got music playing... not obnoxiously or illegally loud but loud enough that they are forced to listen to it until traffic clears. I wonder why anyone would want to eat there.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:33 p.m.
What is wrong with educating people to the current state law which requires bikes to yield to pedestrians and warn of their approach? Whenever Ann Arbor tries to go its own way differently than state law, it creates problems. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.
Calm down and stick to your rants about speed limits, James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.
How about concentrating on fixing potholes and picking up garbage. Once you've mastered that, then you can start insinuating your rules into our lives.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:40 p.m.
Yeah! These silly bicyclists don't matter! Drivers matter much more. They aren't all paying their fair share of city taxes, right?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.
What's dangerous is when people ride in the street, next to completely empty sidewalks, causing traffic to back-up for a mile during rush hour and causing multiple near accidents as people try to pass the biker while having to drift into their neighboring lane. If there's a bike lane, fine, but if not, and there's a perfectly good and empty sidewalk, then use it!
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 4:15 a.m.
What about people who live downtown?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:53 p.m.
If a sidewalk is decently wide, and empty, I fail to see how that is less safe than riding in a lane of traffic. Take the bridge south on Broadway over the tracks, for example - I have seen this too many times. For the rush-hour backup, S Maple approaching Jackson is horrendous (or any road approaching Maple&Jackson), and too many times I've seen bikers almost get hit, or cars almost get hit as other cars move to pass (drivers are never going to patient enough to go 5 mph indefinitely in a busy lane of traffic during rush-hour, unfortunately). Empty sidewalks, though. I can't speak for all motorists, of course, but I always make a conscious effort to be aware of any object approaching an intersection when I am crossing or turning. Bikes through crowded sidewalks downtown = a bad idea, for sure, but it also poses challenges to motorists in streets without bike lanes.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.
Side walks are for walking, no cycling. Motorists are not looking for cyclists on the side walk when they approach an intersection, especially when taking a right. This is why we bike on the streets. I also doubt that bikes cause traffic to back up at all, lest a mile. If it's not safe to pass a cyclist, the law states that it is the responsibility of the driver to slow down and wait for a safe opportunity to do so. Many drivers are too impatient to comply, however.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.
It is always safer to ride in the street than on the sidewalk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:25 p.m.
As a cyclist who is always in the street, I oppose this idea. More laws for bikes = less people riding them. I think things are wonderful already.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.
I've seen bike+ped accidents on several college campuses, and I can tell you it's a horrific sight. Books, papers, all go flying. I thought there was already a law against it in the state or was that a wives tale? If there is a bike lane with proper signage - it should not be allowed on the sidewalk. If the bike lane is on the sidewalk by marking then it's fine as it's marked as such.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.
Nothing like a bicyclist getting hit by a bike. I know of four people who have been killed on our roads. Anyone who thinks it's safe is out of their mind. What creates danger is a speed gradient - which is relatively small between a bicyclist and a pedestrian (10-15mph at most, assuming no braking). With a car and a bicyclist, the differences are often on the order of 35+mph or greater which leads to permanent disabilities or outright fatalities nearly 100% of the time.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.
Is there some reason we can't exercise some logic in this situation? The sidewalks are frequented heavily by those accessing stores or restaurants on Main Street and some of the side streets. What is so difficult about walking a bike in heavy pedestrian areas? That would not equate to miles but most likely a few blocks. Doesn't seem like that is too difficult and it would help keep all parties safer. We don't need yet another wonderful law, we just need to exercise some logic and consideration (that seems to have departed our society) towards one another.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 4:12 a.m.
Or just requiring people to ride no faster than a jogger runs.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.
"Is there some reason we can't exercise some logic in this situation?" Yes, there is, no one recently has been conditioned to do this. We've been conditioned to bleat like sheep when a problem arrises until to govenment comes and solves the problem... with a sledghammer... when a scalpal was needed... or a bit of education... just sayin'...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.
Just ban the wheel inside the city limits. That's what he wants anyway.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:59 p.m.
they ban what they can't understand...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:06 p.m.
Sometimes, people will agree to do something just because it's considered polite. I'm not convinced new laws are necessary in this case as I cannot remember seeing a bike speeding along a crowded sidewalk, lately. Maybe some signs asking riders to be courteous with their bikes. Public scorn is probably more effective than overarching laws in these cases. Then if it's still a problem in a year or two, bring the hammer down. There's common sense, most people employ it amongst their fellow man.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.
This city already doesn't enforce any traffic laws other than speed limits, so what difference would it make?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.
Our elected officials need to leave transportation laws and ordinances to the professional transportation engineers. Instead, focus on serious safety problems like the erosion of Geddes Road (between Hickory and the non-motorized entrance to Gallup Park) where the shoulder has washed away leaving a 30 foot drop from the westbound lane. (Photos on SeeKids.org.) In early September I watched a family with two elementary-age children bike westbound from the bike lane that ended near Hickory to the edge of the roadway. This is not a safe area for roadway biking. A driver's sight distance is restricted due to the curve in the roadway and the wall of vegetation growing to the edge of the roadway. Attempting to move to the shoulder of the westbound lane would result in a drop down a steep cliff. Fortunately, it was Sunday, with light traffic, and the family made it to where the bike lane resumed near the Gallup Park entrance. City staff are aware of the conditions and have addressed drainage problems in the area but have not corrected the transportation safety issues. At the minimum, the appropriate warning devices need to be installed until this dangerous situation can be corrected.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:55 p.m.
If this does pass- what's the point if no one enforces it? No one enforces what the bikers do now.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.
This would be less of an issue if downtown eateries weren't using so much of the sidewalks. @Ryan- "forcing the pedestrians ahead to move out of the way" That is a somewhat one-sided caption that seems unduly provocative.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:34 p.m.
The downtown eateries *rent* the sidewalk, so that's why the mayor panders to them. Not only that, the rent they pay doesn't cover the Art Fair period - they have to rent that separately.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:54 p.m.
Downtown, where speeds are low, there's really no reason to ride on the sidewalk, especially given the heavy congestion of pedestrians and restaurant seating. That said, "banning" people from doing it isn't the answer. As long as cyclists use common sense and courtesy, I'm fine with them on the sidewalk.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.
If people have to jump out of your way, you should slow down. I bike downtown and am very careful not to ever startle anyone or pass any faster than I would while jogging.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.
Common sense and courtesy are wonderfully vague terms that try to cover a multitude of situations. For example, there is mention made in the article about families making bicycle trips to the library being worthy of an exception to the suggested ordinance. But to me, common sense would indicate that if the kids are so young that they can't ride in the street, maybe they're too young to undertake a bike trip to the library. And this common sense deficit is not limited to cyclists... I've tried, when using a sidewalk, to warn pedestrians that I am approaching, calling out, "Passing on your left". About half the time, people look back, then jump to their left, directly into my indicated path. And for all the complaints from drivers who have to share the road with cyclists, what about the drivers who treat bike lanes as right turn lanes, usually without checking to see if there is oncoming bicycle traffic before swerving to take that shortcut?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.
I have a question. Is it still illegal to skateboard or roller blade on the sidewalks downtown? If so then it should be illegal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalks downtown.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:51 p.m.
"It could do more harm than good," he said. "For example, I've heard stories about laws making texting illegal actually making the problem worse and causing more accidents." He's heard stories of 'making texting illegal which then leads to more accidents'? That's ludicrous.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.
Stupidity causes those accidents, not a texting ban. That's what's ludicrous.
C. S. Gass
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.
Actually the thing about texting is true. When it's banned, people still do it, obviously, but they take it out of their plane of view and hide it in thier lap, the accidents actually go up, more than making up for the few that are avoided. Not ludicrous. Seen it happen. We have, really, all the laws we need righ now. More and more laws are social engineering experiments, and they never work. They rarely make anything better. Don't fall into the trap that laws make you safe. It's the same lie that many believed when told work makes them free. Believing it leads to hell.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.
My link got cutoff. I'll try again, National Post: http://goo.gl/h3M5T
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:08 p.m.
At least, the available data suggests that it's true.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.
This is actually true. Manitoba was one of the first jurisdictions to ban handheld device use while driving and traffic fatalities have spiked, while fatalities from DUI have decreased. It's thought that this is because some people are still texting but holding the phone low out of view and thus even more disconnected from traffic conditions. http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/Real+road+danger+discreet+texting/6929004/story.html
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.
I forgot, let's also ban those pedestrians that are moving too fast. They may run into someone else causing great bodily harm
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.
We need to ban anyone from the sidewalk if they are not buying stuff at the stores or restaurants.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:45 p.m.
Get rid of the outdoor restaurant seating. It is getting ridiculous.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:37 p.m.
Yet another sign that there are not nearly enough important business to keep our city leaders busy. Is there any documentation, research, studies, etc, to show that such an ordinance is necessary, will make pedestrians safer, etc.? The "it seems like a good idea" should not apply in a city where we pride ourselves on overthinking so many things. To say nothing of the enforcement aspect - will Ann Arbor become the scene of high speed bicycle chases? And the above photo - if that is the person quoted in the caption, I guess he is not really concerned about safety, as he is not wearing a helmet.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:34 p.m.
"The bicyclist keeps peddling as he splits the group of pedestrians ahead." Must admit, that's pretty industrious!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.
YES. An unreserved yes. Pedestrians have enough to worry about without the hybrid road-sidewalk ("whichever is most convenient at the moment") bicyclists.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:31 p.m.
Please refresh us on the many things that the pedestrians have to worry about. I know there is "left-right-left-right", "don't walk in front of a car" and "don't walk into a solid object", but really what else is there? And wouldn't you agree that cyclists actually have all those things plus balancing on two wheels, watching for clueless pedestrians and avoiding the numerous potholes?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:31 p.m.
I would think you would choose between the less congested option. I don't see a lot of bikes on the sidewalks downtown, but I do see many runners which leaves me scratching my head. As a runner, I don't understand choosing downtown streets where you have to stop at every corner and weave around pedestrians. So many nice neighborhoods around the downtown area to run in. As for bicyclists, I've come to the conclusion that many (not all) enjoy choosing the most disruptive route be it a busy sidewalk or in the street where there is no shoulder and a non-congested bike path is available (Huron Parkway).
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:48 a.m.
Bicyclists ride through downtown usually because they LIVE downtown, not because they "enjoy" taking the most difficult, annoying route jammed with pedestrians. They ride on the sidewalk not because its FUN but because the street is DANGEROUS and they know this from EXPERIENCE.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.
You are right. I avoid busy downtown sidewalks while out running like the plaque. I stay away from congeted streets and sidewalks-always. Go Navy: yes, they are out running...lol
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.
Bicyclists choose to use downtown streets when they need to leave from, arrive at, or go through downtown, which is the same reason a motorist would have for using those streets. Also, I am not aware of any bike paths on Huron Parkway.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:48 p.m.
You don't understand why some "runners" choose downtown streets? Where else could they be seen by so many people and show the world how athletic they are, not to mention their designer apparel and shoes.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.
Those people aren't "runners;" they're simply out running. "Runners" (like you and I) agree that there are many nice paths to take in this city that avoid having to deal with downtown.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.
We already ban skateboards, so it is logical that bicycles and wheelchairs should follow.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:19 p.m.
"Unless you have cops on bikes to catch the offenders. . ." Ha, ha, ha, etc. Imagine. We can have biking police officers chasing criminal 8-yr-old sidewalk cyclists down the sidewalk. . . The sidewalk chase-way certainly makes things more desirable and safe for martini deliveries. . . . and slapstick comedy filmmakers. In the Hollywood star-studded film credits: Another folly comedy produced by Hieftje et al (city council, DDA). . .
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.
I had a recent close-call while walking downtown. A student was riding his bike way to fast, and cut between me and another pedestrian walking the same way. There was only BARELY enough room, and neither of us moved for him, so he came within inches of colliding. I never thought people would be so careless, but they can be. I would support a bike ban on the sidewalks. However, I don't think students would listen to it, and I'll bet drivers would get really PO'd at all the new cyclists in the street.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.
next time clothesline him
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.
I don't like the idea PERIOD! In fact I would rather ride on the sidewalks as long as they are part of a bike path. When I rode regularly I always used the bike path rather than ride the street against cars and motorcycles. Now that I drive more, it irritates me to have to drive around cyclists who don't use the bike paths. Yet I don't approach them knowing they have this mentality that they can ride where they want, the same reckless mentality which got the motorcycle helmet law passed.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.
If you you were ever truly a serious cyclist, you would know that the "bike paths" to which you refer, are far more dangerous to bike on. It has been proven time and time again, that it's much safer to stick to the road. The fact that you're irritated by such a trifling inconvenience, is no doubt a testament to your contemptible disposition.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.
What are you talking about? Bike paths? What is a bike path in this context?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:16 p.m.
I wonder. Is there any information available on the number of citations issued to bike riders who violate traffic or other rules in the past year? I'd really like to know.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:13 p.m.
"Sandy Bledsoe, an avid cyclist in Ann Arbor, said traffic is so light downtown that it's silly to ride on busy sidewalks." What downtown are you talking about? Traffic is light downtown? I would never ride my bike downtown, it would be a deathtrap the way people drive, especially at rush hour or on a week-end. Stop over making laws that you wont enforce and focus on real issues like police, fire, roads and water.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.
Where is the mayor's documentation that this is necessary downtown? How many accidents involving bicycles have been reported to police this year versus three years ago? This smacks to me of bending over backward and giving more and more to the Main Street restaurants. And it contradicts the city's push to get bicyclists downtown by putting up more and more bicycle racks. Maybe the restaurants could scale back their outdoor seating a bit -- since it is set up on city siewalks! -- and make more room for pedestrians and families biking downtown?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:47 a.m.
Unless you have Cops on bikes to catch the "offenders"... the ordinance won't stop the intended target bike riders, only make it more difficult for safe riders to move about. I'm sure Police won't get out of their cars to try and catch a speeding bicycle. In our town it is painted on the sidewalk and there are signs stating no bike riding per ordinance.....We still take it easy if riding downtown, haven't gotten taken to jail yet.........
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:03 p.m.
The Ann Arbor Police Department has officers on bicycles downtown, not just in patrol cars.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.
Ban o mania strikes again!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:42 a.m.
I thought it was already illegal downtown......
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:44 p.m.
I think you're referring to the "walk your bike zone" which applies to only part of the State Street commercial area near campus. On Main St., it's due to the proliferation (and popularity) of sidewalk seating for restaurant customers. This is a summertime phenomenon - during colder months, there is NO such congestion on the sidewalks. The issue is: do we ban cyclists from Main St. sidewalks while giving away the sidewalks to sidewalk restaurants for the whole year? Seems that's overlooked - and who gave our sidewalks away in the first place?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.
I am surprised that the Mayor has not suggested banning vehicles on down town streets. That way, pedestrian, bikes and runners could have their own lanes on the pavement and the restraints could take over the sidewalks.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.
This is just the first step of hizzoner's cunning plan. Get the bikes off of the sidewalks and onto the streets. When bikes and cars cannot co-exist, ban cars and make downtown automobile free. All it takes is a little vision.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:24 p.m.
having a car free Main Street is something he has already mentioned numerous times over the last few years.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:19 p.m.
Actually, banning cars on Main St. Is a great idea! It wouldbe a boon for area business and allow the space to be used for the arts. Just look at Times Square, when it became a pedestrian only area, people flocked there in droves. Having a vibrant, pedestrian-friendly downtown it what separates Ann Arbor from many other towns; it's why many people continue to come here and spend money.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:44 p.m.
Psssst...see Pearl Street Mall, Boulder, Colorado.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:34 a.m.
I live downtown and don't feel cyclists on the sidewalk are a problem. What IS a problem is when they zoom across and intersection when you're driving, seeming to come from nowhere. They should be required to follow the rules of the road.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.
Seems you're right. :-) Only then you have to demand the same respect for rules on the part of motor vehicle drivers: you know, the ones who have a cell phone stuck in their ear all the time and those who like to send hunt-and-peck text messages "in preference" to paying attention to EVERYTHING going on around them. There's a set a rules we should see are enforced... forcefully.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:28 a.m.
This is only a real problem in a handful of areas where there is a combination of heavy pedestrian usage and lots of sidewalk obstruction (tables/chairs, newspaper boxes, kiosks, etc.). I've almost been run over by inconsiderate bikers several times walking along Fourth Ave., Main St. and Liberty in the heart of downtown and I have long wished that something would be done to rein in the maniacs. A new law wouldn't be necessary if we had an officer or two in the area that would enforce the existing law.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:36 a.m.
What about people who live downtown?
Stephen Lange Ranzini
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:06 a.m.
As a downtown resident who bicycles to work often, I can tell you that there are some streets downtown such as Huron St., that I won't bicycle on, so the sidewalk is the only option I consider safe. Also, Huron St. between Main St. and State St. has almost no retail stores and very few pedestrians, so why would anyone care if someone bicycled on those sidewalks?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.
Got run over by a bike yesterday when it went thru a red light and an occupied crosswalk that had the "walk" signal displayed. Lets enforce what's on the books before putting new ones that the police ignore enforcing. Oh, did I mention that a U of M police car was stopped at the stop sign and did nothing? Thank you for protecting me.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11 a.m.
So let me make sure I have this right. We have less police. We have less tickets for DUI (something really serious) since we have less police. We have a pedestrian crossing law, with inconsistencies in types of crosswalks, and confusion in how to implement it, that we expect our police to watchover. We have, if I remember correctly, a serial rapist from a while ago that has not been caught. And now we want to add a new law concerning riding bicycles for the police to enforce. And this sounds like the type of law favored by city council--first approve it and then spend 2 years fine tuning it.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11 a.m.
And just so you know. . . Those painted spaces called bike lanes on our streets are only such in the mayor's publicity-seeking mind. Slapping some paint on an ordinary street does not make it a safe, functional bike lane. There are safe bike lanes by design, and there are a2 bike lanes. The latter is an oxymoron.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:34 a.m.
Yep, they just painted a flaky line in the gutter. Aggressive drivers try to pass in the bike lane all the time (what happens when they don't see you? ...you die!), and inattentive drunks and texters drift out of their lane and mow down riders.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.
And yes, Michigan law already says those are situations where a cyclist is not required to keep right: MCL 257.660a: "A person operating a bicycle upon a highway or street at less than the ***existing speed of traffic*** shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except as follows: [...] (c) When conditions make the right-hand edge of the roadway unsafe or reasonably unusable by bicycles, including, but not limited to, surface hazards, an uneven roadway surface, drain openings, debris, ***parked or moving vehicles*** or bicycles, pedestrians, animals, or other obstacles, ***or if the lane is too narrow to permit a vehicle to safely overtake and pass a bicycle.***" [asterisks are mine] In most cases, cyclists are moving as fast as the rest of traffic in places like State or Liberty. Even if they aren't, they have to stay out of the door zone of parked cars, and the usable part of those lanes is not wide enough for motorists to safely pass in the remaining lane. Cyclists should be using the middle of the lane in most streets downtown, and following the same laws as the other vehicle operators.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:56 a.m.
We could also add baby strollers, kids in wagons, and delivery people using hand carts to the ban-from-sidewalk-to-preserve-and-protect-sacred-restaurant-commerce list. . .
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:55 a.m.
That was actually the first issue I was ever involved in, with the original AABTS Safety Committee in discussions back in 1989 or so. The conclusion then was we should discourage it without banning it. Mayor Hieftje is right, it's safer on the street. And we've come a long way since 1989. I think what they should do is ban adult sidewalk biking on certain streets, with signs for those sidewalks. At the same time, those streets should get "Share the Road" signs, like we have in lots of places now (we fought for over a decade to get those signs, but staff always rejected them), and sharrows should be put in the middle of the lane, where they're supposed to be on those streets - not in the door zone like they've been done in the past. If we could get a sign "Cyclists use full lane", that would be even better.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.
It is not safer to ride in the street, when you come whizzing through an intersection from the road, the oncoming cross traffic will not see you much sooner than on the sidewalk due to parked cars, shrubs, etc. And you bear the risk of getting killed by drunks, texters, and aggressive drivers passing in the bike lane because they didn't see you. I have personally witnessed two hit and runs downtown in the last few months. Never seen anyone injured so badly by a bicyclist - in fact, I've never seen anyone hit or heard of it happening outside of this news article.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 9:27 p.m.
I second your thoughts. It is unsafe to ride a bike on the sidewalk. A lot of accidents happen when a turning car gets surprised from the rear by a fast moving bike on the sidewalk. I rarely ride on bike paths that are not in the street for the same reason.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.
This seems like the most common-sense approach to me. If there's no education, it doesn't matter what ordinances are passed.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.
Maybe Hieftje should ban runners, wheelchair users, and leashed pets from the sidewalks as well. They interfere with the orderly procession of martini serving. After all, it is a "sidewalk," as suggested above. The new law should only allow pedestrians walking "sideways" on sidewalks. This will allow maximum restaurant seating and revenue production.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:41 a.m.
"The city already has adopted the Michigan Vehicle Code, which has rules for riding bicycles on sidewalks. The law states anyone operating a bicycle on a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk must yield to pedestrians and must give an audible signal before overtaking and passing them." And how does this pedestrian file a complaint about a cyclist who just whizzes by without a heads up? I watched a young mother pushing a stroller across Plymouth Road at a crosswalk. There was a cyclist on the sidewalk who went barrelling past her, expecting her to yield to him. You can't legislate good manners, common sense, or civility. Part of honor your father and mother means don't behave like you were raised in a skunk hole.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:40 a.m.
I slipped on a french fry and wrenched my back, I'd like to ban outdoor seating for restaurants downtown. I also stepped in some gum and it was so gross I wake up at night thinking about it...I'd like to ban gum chewing downtown. Since cigarette litter the ground i want to ban smoking downtown. I think youngsters who wear their baseball hats backwards look silly, I'd like to ban them as well. And if you don't have a belt to hold your trousers up....your outta here. Let me drink my coffee and I'll come up with 2-3 more pressing issues to be "fixed".
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.
Well, since you bring it up, I suppose our next order of business really should be to ban wearing baseball caps that still have the stickers on them. Please, homey, I know you didn't just buy the hat that you're wearing right now, with your massive quantities of wealth that you earned from being so cool.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.
Craig: you'll get a kick out this: "I'd like to ban gum chewing downtown" --- SINGAPORE actually has banned public gum chewing! And the penalty is typically: beating the offender with a large cane made of bamboo. Actual examples have resulted in hospitalization and permanent physical damage... they aren't kidding.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.
Ban Everything! Think of the children!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:39 a.m.
"Hieftje, an avid cyclist who regularly rides with traffic in the streets downtown, said he doesn't think it's necessary for people to ride on the sidewalk. In fact, he thinks it's safer in the street." John Hieftje--the Mayor with solutions in search of a problem.
Stephen Lange Ranzini
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:36 a.m.
"'I won't support it because I think that's way far overreaching,' he said of the mayor's idea. Kunselman, who regularly rides his bicycle on downtown sidewalks, said he has faith Ann Arborites can be courteous and follow proper bicycling etiquette, like alerting others when they're passing.'" Is the solution to every problem really another law? As a downtown resident who lives on Main St. and walks every day on Main St., I don't see this as a problem that requires another law, but one that requires people to use common sense, and the vast majority do already.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 6:54 a.m.
I agree with Mr. Ranzini and Tru2Blu. No additional laws are needed. We already have enough laws telling kids they can't do things like lemonade stands or whatever. As a parent, I don't want my kid riding in the road risking being struck by some other person who ignores a law and texts while driving or drinks then drives.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:06 p.m.
I think you're right and the proof can be found in the examples of many European cities where heavy motor, pedestrian and bicycle traffic is common. It may just be a matter of this being "a new experience" to Americans, not just those living here. If they can do it, why can't we? They also accomplish this "miracle" in Japan - in large cities. What we see here looks a lot like a competition to gain ownership of privileges which are then jealously guarded. This situation here is that restaurants "won" the right to use our sidewalks to increase their own "floor space" and seating capacity. So the first thing that has to go is: SOMEONE ELSE'S RIGHT to use public sidewalks. See?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.
Common sense would tell you that additional laws seldom work as intended. However, common sense has never prevailed in Ann Arbor.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:35 a.m.
I thought it odd when I first visited Ann Arbor that this was one of the only cities that actually allowed bicycles on the sidewalk. It's called a sideWALK for a reason.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.
You can't avoid congested sidewalks when that's where you live.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:43 p.m.
So are you saying that because seagulls actually spend the majority of their time in bay areas, we should actually be calling them bagels? :D Actually, I totally agree though. In the immediate downtown, where sidwalks are densely-populated, riding on sidewalks should simply be banned. I have a feeling that 95% of intelligent bicyclers already choose to avoid these sidewalks when they are congested for the obvious reasons, so this ban would really only affect that special 5%.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 7:12 a.m.
That's a trite argument. The origin of the word to distinguish it from the roadway has little or nothing to do with the actual use of a walkway. Under your definition, baby strollers and wheelchairs would also have no place on the sidewalk. Under Michigan law, as noted in the article, bicyclists enjoy the option of either being treated as vehicles by riding on the road--subject to all the rules of the road, or being pedestrians by riding cautiously and alerting others as the overtake them. It's not uncommon to hear someone say "on your left" or "on your right" as they pass. When I was a student some 3 decades back, I learned to not jump aside or do anything when walking. Just keep walking. The biker will avoid you. If you jump to the side, you may very well jump into where he intends to go. In most instances, bikers are courteous and attentive. I've only seen a few instances when a bike on a sidewalk was being driven recklessly. In contrast, when driving down Main St. where I already have enough things to look at, it drives me batty to see bikes zooming in and through lights, moving into lanes then between cars or coming up from behind me in my blind spot as I try to make a right turn. I can deal with that, but I don't see why every bicyclist needs to be put onto the road.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:26 a.m.
What about people who ride their bikes at the same pace as those who walk, because they have a nerve injury that causes severe, lasting pain when they walk over a half mile? And they live downtown...
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 12:08 a.m.
A big difference between a sidewalk and a street is that you're not required to keep moving on a sidewalk. Conversations take place between people standing on a sidewalk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 7:21 p.m.
So why do we park in a DRIVEway, and drive on a PARKway?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.
Billy Bob Schwartz
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 2:36 p.m.
My very words. Ride on the street. Push your bike on the sideWALK. Learned that as a kid. Still remember it. No bikes, skates, skateboards, or spitting on the sidewalk. Downtown is small enough for walking a bike on the sidewalk, isn't it?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.
Maybe they should ban the outdoor restaurant seating instead. . . Our beautiful wide sidewalks were not designed for restaurant use. Public sidewalk RIGHT OF WAY is severely compromised with the current commercialized configuration. . . An eight-year-old child on a bike does not belong on the street, navigating parked car opening doors, cell and texting drivers, rudeness, trucks, and plain risk. Restaurant owners and their employees need to be more careful and considerate of the sidewalk users, both walking and biking. The latter belong on the sidewalk. The former do not. By the way, Mr. Stanton, have you checked into who profits from use of said sidewalks, other than the restaurants? Hint, hint, hint. . .
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 6:48 a.m.
I have no difficulty envisioning 8 yr old kids or 10 yr old kids riding with family along any sidewalk downtown. I've seen it before. The problem isn't with 8 yr old kids. It's with 20 yr old students who are rushing using the sidewalk then jumping down into the street then back up while not stopping at lights or signs. They are at once pedestrians and motor vehicles and follow the rules of neither. They are easy to spot and it's easy to cite them but with few patrols available to stop break-ins, assaults or aggressive panhandling, all we have is another piece of useless legislation that will only intimidate those who already are law-abiding and considerate. As with others, I don't believe the sidewalks of Ann Arbor were intended to be sunny extensions to restaurants. While it adds an ambiance, so do children and families and just daily living by people. Yet, the mayor isn't concerned about the panhandling or congregating that goes on that does more to detract from businesses than any of this. This is known as not having the right priorities and is another reason why this mayor simply benefits from the blind stupidity of party loyalism during each election. He should be ousted but because he invariably is the Democratic candidate, he gets re-elected based not on his highly questionable record but because of his party affiliation.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 2:07 a.m.
Main Street isn't usually where one thinks of a family going to ride their bikes. Sure, if you happen to live there, you MIGHT. But, most likely, you'd have the good sense to go back to a neighborhood with your kids. Sitting on the sidewalk while eating your dinner, or strolling downtown and window shopping makes sense. Sure, it makes fiscal sense too - but our vibrant downtown is a good thing.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.
What if the eight-year old lives in a loft on Main Street; say above Starbucks? They should be banned from riding their bike on the sidewalk in front of their home?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:51 p.m.
An eight year child should not be riding a bike anywhere downtown. They belong on a residential area only and then they should ride on a sidewalk.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:45 p.m.
Agree 100%! I am so sick of waiters blocking the walkway and then giving you a dirty look if you don't jump out of their way. Who in the heck would want to eat next to Mainstreet anyway?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:01 a.m.
You nailed it!!!
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:32 a.m.
How about we just make a law forcing everyone to use common sense and courtesy? If you are riding on a sidewalk, don't run over people and watch for businesses opening doors. If the sidewalk is congested, ride on the street. Making a law with exceptions does nothing except make a law impossible to enforce. As noted already, just enforce the existing law. And don't we have bigger issues to deal with anyway?
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.
If there was a law requiring common sense, "SonnyDog09" would have been thrown in jail a long time ago.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 3:25 a.m.
So, because there are some people who cannot bicycle responsibly in the only place that is safe (the sidewalk), we will bar everyone from riding on the sidewalk? How about we ban all cars because 1 out of 80 Americans will be killed by one, and most people will drive drunk or text (even more dangerous) at some point in their lives, if not frequently and repeatedly? Clearly, we can't rely on people to handle cars.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 4:53 p.m.
Are you suggesting we use common sense? Sorry there is no room on this blog for that.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.
The problem with relying on "common sense and courtesy" is that far fewer people actually posses these qualities than think they do. Common sense is not really all that common.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.
We've tried that, it doesn't work.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:31 a.m.
Yet again I am thankful I live in Superior Township where we have no mayor...
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.
I wish you could submit your useless comments to superiortownship.com instead of annarbor.com.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 12:02 a.m.
Kids safer on their bikes in Dixboro Village? You have me wondering if people of any age bicycle to the Lord Fox. It could be one way of burning off calories from the food they ate at the Lord Fox.
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.
Boy, Superior Township. Like anyone every goes there to begin with ?
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 11:58 a.m.
Or a downtown...
Fri, Sep 14, 2012 : 10:22 a.m.
Seems like they should just try enforcing the current law.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 6:18 p.m.
In Great Britain the BBC reported zero pedestrians killed by cyclists in 2009, but 426 were killed by cars. There were 13,272 collisions between bikes and cars in 2008, 52 of which resulted in a fatality for the cyclist. No drivers were killed.
Sat, Sep 15, 2012 : 1:03 a.m.
Exactly! And as the law states, alert the walker you're coming up behind them. Put that old "bell" on the handle bar and "ring" it to let us know when you're riding by someone on the side walk.