You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Washtenaw Avenue's future? Conceptual images show buffered bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes

By Ryan J. Stanton

Local officials see a lot of potential for new mixed-use development along Washtenaw Avenue from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, along with upgrades for pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

The following images were put on display Tuesday night at the first in a series of public workshops being held this week as part of the ReImagine Washtenaw project.

They're purely hypothetical, but they show what the corridor could look like if the road was reconfigured to include buffered bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes with new transit "super stops" along the way. Check them out and leave your thoughts below.


This hypothetical cross section shows what Washtenaw Avenue could look like with four 11-foot-wide travel lanes, an 11-foot-wide center turn lane, and buffered bike lanes on both sides that build in 2 feet of buffered space between vehicles and cyclists. On the left side is a 6-foot-wide sidewalk with an 8-foot-wide landscape buffer. Another 8-foot landscape buffer on the right side transitions to a 12-foot-wide activated space with what appears to be outdoor seating for a restaurant.

SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff


This hypothetical cross section shows what the road could look like with two vehicle travel lanes, a center turn lane, two buffered bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes. In this scenario, the bicyclists would be placed between buses and vehicle traffic.

SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff


SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff


SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff


What a typical "super stop" for Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses might look like along Washtenaw Avenue. ReImagine Washtenaw project manager Nathan Voght said the stops will be constructed over time as sidewalks fill in and other stops are able to be consolidated. "These will be funded by AATA, or possibly by developers of adjacent private property, as they construct their development," he said. The AATA proposed a five-year plan last year that projected a series of 16 super stops or bus rapid transit style stops for Route 4 on Washtenaw Avenue would cost about $2 million.

SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff


Public feedback is being sought on these three alternative scenarios showing how Washtenaw Avenue could be configured in different ways from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti.

SmithGroupJJR | Parsons Brinckerhoff



Thu, May 30, 2013 : 5:03 a.m.

I would imagine that we have already started paying for this one way or another, engineering drawings are not done for free. If these were done for free, we will make it up to them when they win the contract, no doubt.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 12:09 a.m.

I am a local cab driver and travel washtenaw more than i would like to. It is a main artery as we all know. It would be devasting to make Washtenaw a 2 lane road with a turn lane and a transit lane. We have horrible grid lock during rush hour not to mention special events foot ball saturdays for instance. The buses do not need a dedicated lane unless you have a bus pass by one stop every 5 to 7 minutes..... even then its a strech. Also state requires a 45 mph speed limit because of its relationship to the freeway. If anything we should be looking for ways to move traffic through the corridor quicker, not slower. At one time Jackson road was 3 lanes and they swiched back to 4 because of gridlock.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:45 p.m.

That's funny, I was told by long-time residents that they changed it to four lanes because people were using the left turn lane as a passing lane. After a horrible fatality, they changed it to stop that. But I bet you know the history better than people who have lived on the street for 30 years...


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

In a couple of weeks I'm going to be joining the "imaginary" bike commuters who live along Washtenaw. Personally I'm pleased that such attention is being paid to our transportation future, and I hope a compromise that will minimize injury and traffic jams will be made between the dominating force of single passenger car traffic and those of us who car pool, bus, walk or bike.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

And now the City needs to pass an ordinance banning "snow" to make this more effective.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

Sounds like an ingenious plan. Maybe you should step up to City Council and ask.

G. Orwell

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

If people have not figured it out yet, there is an agenda in place. Even if the vast majority of people DO NOT want it, the agenda is to FORCE people to walk, ride bikes, and take public transit. Unless enough people oppose it strongly, more and more of the roads will be sacrificed for the benefit of the IMAGINARY bikers and public bus riders. At a huge price tag while schools have to lay off teachers. This agenda is in place to "save" the earth from yet another IMAGINARY thing called man made global warming. Even though global temperatures have been falling for the past several years.

G. Orwell

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

What conspiracy theory is that?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Hilarious. When will the conservative's conspiracy theories end?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

It seems to me that re-designing public roads should be to best serve the needs of those who use the roads, not to control the users. The idea of "encouraging" people to drive less and switch to mass transit or bicycles by designing roadways with fewer lanes is not appropriate, we should be dealing with the reality of users, and not what we want that reality to be. Some of the ideas are good, I like the idea of bike lanes, but there just aren't enough bikers to justify it now - put bike lanes on the sidewalks beside the road, that makes sense for the users now. I question these projections that say there will be fewer drivers in the future, sure fewer younger people are getting drivers licenses now, but as they get older they will get them, and besides that Washtenaw County is a fast-growing area so the population increase of people with cars is outpacing this alleged drop in youth licensing. Ann Arbor is getting a reputation for making unrealistic laws, just like putting un-lighted crosswalks in the middle of big busy streets and expecting everyone to automatically see them and understand them despite being inconsistent with the rest of the state. This isn't progressive, it's not dealing with reality. Re-designing streets for lower traffic flows when the flow has been steadily increasing for 20 years because of the point of view that bike lanes and mass transit are superior is foolhardy.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

This is simply a plan. We CANNOT keep designing roads for automobiles only. You talk about being realistic: you need to be more realistic. Continuing to add traffic lanes to roads, just to accommodate commuters from OTHER towns coming into the city is not sustainable and requires TONS of resources to maintain and build. Young people are keenly aware of this, which is one reason why they choose not to drive and choose alternative modes of transportation. Route 4 is Washtenaw County's most utilized route and ridership continues to grow. You talk about "controlling users" yet you seem to forget history. GM and the auto dealers "controlled users" by ripping up railways and putting in roads to facilitate the sale of cars. Result? Endless roads filled with people who have moved to the suburbs and yet still demand to work in the city. They expect all taxpayers to pay for their roads (the building of them, the maintenance of them) and cry foul about "their" money going to fund other methods of transportation. It's time to see REALITY and understand that we cannot continue to decimate cities that don't belong to these commuters, simply to accommodate THEIR cars that they CHOOSE to buy because they CHOOSE to live in suburbs. Nobody is telling you to live in the suburbs and nobody tells you to buy a car: you choose all of these things. It is not Ann Arbor's job (or any other city for that matter) to accommodate an endless flow of cars into the city just for them to turn around and leave again.

Kyle Feldscher

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5:57 p.m.

I'm no biker, but I can't imagine I'd want to be on a bike between a car and a bus. I have a hard enough time driving past semi trucks, let alone being close enough to a bus to touch it.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

I'm an avid cyclist and public transit advocate, but I don't see enough bike or bus traffic on Washtenaw to warrant dedicated lanes for either. Widening the sidewalks to create a multi-use path for pedestrians and cyclists will make the corridor more friendly to non-motorized transit, and adding more dedicated bus stop lanes (like the one near Arborland) near the common stops will improve the flow of traffic without lane reduction. On the other hand, if the goal of these initiatives is to reduce automobile traffic, decreasing car lanes in favor of dedicated bike and bus lanes may be a better option. Driving on Washtenaw in rush hour is already a nightmare, and the additional headache of reduced lanes may convince more people to use public transit. The trouble is, "may" is too much of a key word. Many commuters don't have the option of using public transit to get to work, because few places in Michigan are connected by public transit. In order for something like Scenario 2 to work, we first need solid regional transit.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

I'm not an "avid" cyclist, but I bike to work all year long. You need to look into crash analyses - people who bike on sidewalks are at much greater danger of a crash (including fatal crashes) than people who bike on the road. Roads like Washtenaw are the places we need bike lanes the most. Look up "Bicycle Level of Service", and read about the concept of level of service, which is part of what the traffic engineers use to design roadways.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

To Michael's response: you are living in a dream world. The Whole Foods shopping center was built upon this fantasy of, "If we provide fewer parking spaces, people will walk and bike to us." Now, people battle for parking spots. During the holidays it's so bad, you literally cannot find a parking spot. I actually moved my perscriptions from Walgreen's because of this. I could walk, but I don't want to lug all my purchases home. As lovely it would be to have everyone walk and bike everywhere, it's just not realistic, no matter how beautifully you wrap the package.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Again, this is a plan (vision) for the future. The very reason why there aren't many cyclists and pedestrians on the road is BECAUSE of the current design of the roadway itself as well as the design of buildings and parking lots along the road. This plan is about the future because all 4 municipalities along this corridor have changed their zoning ordinances to reflect this vision. No longer will new businesses who come to this corridor be able to build massive, under-utilized parking lots that sit in front of the business. If you were walking on the road, would that look inviting to you? Of course not! Businesses should be built at the roadway, just like in downtown areas (the original walkable destination). When businesses start doing this, it encourages people to walk, bike, take transit and use their cars less, just by the very design of the buildings. These are things that not a lot of people think about, but it all matters.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

The ship has sailed on this one. M 17/Business loop 94 should have been widened a few lanes years ago in comparison to M 1 and M 24.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:09 p.m.

Yes, lets just keep building more and more lanes, and eventually it will make things better, right? WRONG! All it does is encourages more and more people to drive, drive, drive. Doesn't sound like a very nice place to live.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:08 p.m.

Would love to see it and would also love to know who's paying for it. Fix our roads now and tear down more blight.

G. Orwell

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

More expensive bike lanes for hundreds of IMAGINARY bikers. What a waste. If the city decides to go with the dedicated bus transit lanes and reduce car lanes to one each direction, those council members and mayor that votes for this monstrosity MUST be voted out. This option will kill most of the businesses in Washtenaw Ave. I would never go there to shop or dine out. You notice that none of these options discuss how it will affect car traffic. I would not be surprised if the decision has already been made to go with the dedicated bus transit lanes. They only want public input to give the impression that The People's inputs matter.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:58 p.m.

I was really hoping with the advent of the new shopping center at Washtenaw and Platt that plans would be made to withstand the traffic on Washtenaw, but now it looks as though it may become even more difficult to travel on this road. I'm not sure what the solution is, but reducing the number of lanes for auto traffic just seems crazy. I would love to say that the wider bike lanes are a great idea, but why bother when most bicyclists ride outside the bike lanes anyway. A few months back we got stuck behind 5 bicyclists on a road that had a wide bike lane, but since they decided they had to ride side-by-side instead of single file, we had to wait for quite a while to pass. I really don't understand these defiant acts that put safety at risk. I'm so very tired of this type of behavior - so much so that I don't want to advocate for anything to make biking easier. The bicyclists that put themselves at risk are really doing a disservice to those bicyclists that do follow the laws. I would rather talk politics or religion than talk about the bike issue in this town.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:20 p.m.

This is a fantastic idea and I am sure that the dedicated bike lanes will increase the number of bicyclists on Washtenaw from the current 5 per day to at leat double that! And to all those nay sayers who wonder where Ann Arbor will get the money I say "ha!", "Ann Arbor city government is more creative than you may think. Just eliminating school buses for all high school students will go a long way in financing this marvelous plan."

Dave Brueckner

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Great point rooster make them a path then they will ride on the road anyway. ticket them for their constant disregard of the laws and maybe then they will begin to no longer be a hazard to traffic and themselves. Also I wonder if the dedicated half million or so for the new canoe livery at the park couldn't have been for schools. How many teachers do we lay off so we can fudge up traffic more?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

Buffered bike lane? Good idea. Dedicated transit lane? Great idea. Now, how about teaching bicyclists that they are allowed to share the road, but they are supposed to follow ALL the laws of motor vehicle traffic? Tired of seeing bikes cut across the red light.... OOPS, right in front of oncoming traffic. They seem to want all the benefits without the concomitant compliance, its not RIGHTS without RESPONSIBILITY, its Rights with Responsibility.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 6:44 a.m.

When a cyclist messes up and tangles with a car, it's not the car that goes to the ER. There are many more car drivers ignoring the rules of the road than cyclists, it's hard to ignore 30,000 car deaths a year.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:36 p.m.

How many thousands of drivers and passengers per day would have to switch to bikes or buses to justify reducing Washtenaw Ave. to two through traffic lanes for cars and trucks? How many of the existing bike riders commute longer distances year round? There are a few but I bet they are a small percentage of existing riders. What has been the experience at other sites where bike lanes were added? Can someone cite us some statistics? I doubt that more than a couple of dozen riders per day use them at the very best. Extremely few riders use the bike lanes on Plat since they were installed a few years ago. Alternative routes such as Packard , Geddes/Huron River Drive and cutting through neighborhoods would experience increased traffic. Can they handle it safely? Existing or projected bike and bus traffic cannot justify the consequences of the reduction of auto traffic lanes. There are inadequate lanes now for rush hour auto traffic and people are not going to switch in significant numbers to justify such a plan. Four through lanes and a turn lane makes sense. As to buffer zones, if there is a curb or poles separating the spaces, how do you remove the snow, slush and ice? How would you sweep the bike lanes? Bike lanes may make some sense and should be encouraged in some cases and locations, but on such high traffic corridors put the bike lanes next to the sidewalks on the other side of the grass "interface buffers" away from the car lanes? There is far less use of those two modes and thus far less chance for problems between, them interfacing and with less dangerous consequences if and when they do. A two foot buffer zone between sidewalks and bike lanes could even be used if the dangers of bike and pedestrian traffic are a concern. That danger has to be far less than the dangers of cars and bikes interfacing, especially when both are trying to avoid pot holes or ignoring traffic rules. Bus pull out areas for loading and unloading are a great ide

Dog Guy

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

While waiting to turn my van left from Ann Arbor's new two-lane-plus-bike-lanes roads, I am often blindly and illegally passed on the right using the bike lane. Once in a great while there is a bicyclist in the lane and violent evasion ensues. We are fortunate that there are so few bicyclists in this area. Nevertheless, tell me more about these magical buffers.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Anyone else annoyed by the made-up name "ReImagine"? Does anyone look at it the first time and know what's intended? Fail.

Kevin Bolon

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:56 p.m.

Keep in mind that these scenarios are intended for the vehicle use of the community decades in the future - and not the traffic of today. And none of the scenarios will reduce Washtenaw from two lanes each way west of US23. Given the trend of increasing transit use and reduced licensing rates among younger people, it's not hard to imagine that automobile congestion on Washtenaw will be reduced with these plans - especially if additional parking spaces/structures are available near US23 for commuters. My family and I chose to move near the corridor several years ago because of the convenient access to shopping, transit, and recreational facilities. This plan will make that type of residential option available to more people along the entire length of the corridor.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

You are correct Kevin. hasn't done a good job at showing everything from the presentation. It's a shame, because a lot of people on this site are being misinformed and its adding fuel to the fire. It also doesn't help that people are simply unable to think long-term and can only think about today and tomorrow. The presentation discussed everything that would to take place for these scenarios to occur, and that isn't being discussed on this site.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:45 p.m.

Kevin says: And none of the scenarios will reduce Washtenaw from two lanes each way west of US23. Wrong. Look at the drawings showing one lane of traffic in each direction. The quote under that drawing says nothing about not reducing lanes west of 23. "This hypothetical cross section shows what the road could look like with two vehicle travel lanes, a center turn lane, two buffered bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes. In this scenario, the bicyclists would be placed between buses and vehicle traffic."


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

Before anyone builds dedicated transit lanes, it would be nice to have AATA actually serve a wider area. There is no bus stop or route within several miles of my house, and based on the comments I've heard about cutting high school busing it sounds like there are a lot of areas around AA that also aren't near bus lines.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Why do the bike lanes have to be fight ON the busiest, most dangerous roads? There is a huge amount of space on Washtenaw to put the bike lanes OFF the road and in a dedicated lane next to the sidewalks (with buffers for the pedestrians - since the bike riders flout traffic laws with respect to pedestrians as flagrantly as they do those on the road). Assuming the cyclists will actually use the bike lanes, ride on the right side of the road, not knock down and break the arms of pedestrians, and then run off (it happened to a friend of mine on the Bandemer path) etc. this would be the safest alternative, and probably a lot cheaper than what is proposed.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:35 p.m.

Geez, motorists flout laws all the time too, or are you not counting the tailgaters, speeders, people driving in bike lanes, blowing through stops, etc? They want to put bike lanes on these roads because bicyclists are *supposed* to use the roads - everything except expressways. We want faster cyclists off of sidewalks where they conflict with pedestrians. These roads have a lot of use because they're the most efficient way to get to where people are trying to go - and some people would like to get there by bike but the road is too unfriendly to bike on. And studies show that biking on the road is safer than biking on sidewalks - largely because motorists *won't* pull out into traffic without looking, but *will* drive across sidewalks without a second thought. Look, state law says cyclists have the right to use the roads. The city is just looking at ways to make that a reasonable proposition. Why does that bother you so much?

Blue Dog Red

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

A pity that I had to read so far down the comments string to find the lone common-sense suggestion. Thanks for posting this.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

If you had dedicated transit lanes, how many minutes, out of the 24 hours in a day, would there be an actual bus on any particular stretch of this lane? How many hours and minutes would the lane sit empty, legally unavailable to the (pretty heavy) traffic around it?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:18 a.m.

Along Washtenaw with the newest routes it's every 3-4 minutes weekdays.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:11 p.m.

I commute thousands of miles per year on my bicycle in Ann Arbor. (I am also a rabid car enthusiast.) I have no problem with bus pullouts that cross the bike lane for one simple reason. In my time on Ann Arbor's roads the one group of drivers I can count on to drive courteously, and to know the rules and drive by them, are the drivers of the AATA.


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Half agree. They have a hard time consistently getting their drivers to pass at a safe distance (> 4' as I mentioned from the Michigan Supreme Court ruling), and sometimes they get a real anti-bike bigot behind the wheel. However, the management really seems to try to get their drivers to drive safely, and most of the drivers are really excellent - they do the best job on the road stopping for pedestrians, and I have no qualms about their drivers pulling into bike lanes to drop off passengers. They're very safe about how they do their lane changes. The situation with safe passing is going well right now too.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:43 p.m.

I have had similar experiences on my bike commute through town, although Robert's experience sounds awful.

Robert Granville

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I wish this was the truth for all of their drivers.... but it isn't. I was hit and pushed off of the road by an AATA bus while going down Stadium near Happy Wok. There I was minding my own business when suddenly something was pressing hard into my shoulder and forcing my tires to grind against the sidewalk. I was really confused but luckily I kicked off the bus and managed to bounce up onto the sidewalk before the tires had a chance to pull me under. I could've died and the driver didn't even stop or move out of the bike lane. I could hear passengers SCREAMING at the driver that they were hitting someone. I don't think I've used a bike lane since.... in fact I don't ride one here at all anymore.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

Completely agree, as well.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Completely agree.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:08 p.m.

I applaud the 'local officials' for taking steps to improve our transit system and thinking ahead to making the area more pedestrian and biker friendly. Plans like this could help reduce the vehicular traffic along this busy corridor. However, riding a bike along Washtenaw seems like a risky experience, and may not be effectively used unless people do feel safe walking and riding alongside speeding traffic. What about adding strategically placed vertical poles spaced 8' apart through the buffer zone alongside the bike lanes? These poles would prevent cars from darting into or using the bike lanes. Madison, Wisconsin has a similar system running along their campus and it seems to mitigate much of the danger.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1 p.m.

Reducing Washtenaw Ave to one lane of traffic in each direction is nothing short of totally incompetent. Traffic would be backed up from 23 to the city of Ypsi going east, and backed up from 23 to State St. going west. Washtenaw would be paralyzed. Engineers should be smarter than this, unless they never drive. This area just doesn't have enough population or density or potential ridership to support dedicated transit lanes. These exist in large metro areas like Minneapolis and Portland. The city of Ann Arbor needs to stop fantasizing about trendy issues that apply to larger urban areas and develop realistic solutions to transportation in AA. Start by fixing the 40,000 POTHOLES! How can a city that lets its roads, curbs and medians deteriorate to 3rd world status even think about all these "pie in the sky" fantasies? AA city can't maintain the roads it has.

E Claire

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

"The city of Ann Arbor needs to stop fantasizing about trendy issues" A truer statement could not be made about AA. You need to go to every city council meeting and repeat that over and over, every time one of them tries to open his/her mouth.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

If you have a dedicated transit lane with the bike lane next to the curb, why would the buses need to curd to onload passengers? Would it not be safer to have the buses simply stop in the dedicated lane and mark the bike lanes with bus loading zone signs. The bikers would have to obey the loading signs. That would be safer than having the buses curb and have bikers trying go around them on the left. (My opinion).


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Good luck "reconfiguring" one of the most congested, clogged roadways in Ann Arbor. I cannot imagine the construction issues and ensuing traffic backups. These hypothetical drawings do not take into account the reality that is currently Washtenaw Ave with the immense amount of congestion, strip malls, parking lots next to the road, potholes, etc. Who would want to sit at an outdoor restaurant 30 feet from all that exhaust, noise and traffic, as the drawings show. It's fantasyland. By the way, who is going to pay for this?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:44 p.m.

This city doesn't even have close to the number of vehicles traffic or public transportation vehicles that would need a "transit" lane.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Only one thing missing in the conceptual drawings: about 5000 cars driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic. At some point, maybe daily, some impatient motorist will use the bus lane to skirt the congestion caused by poor urban planning and accidents will happen, most likely to bikers who think they are in their safe buffer zone. Someone needs to re-think this whole thing. Wait, I got it. Let's build a second deck of roadway exclusively for the bikers!!! That will be great for us tax-payers.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot A pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot Don`t it always go to show You never know what you got till it`s gone ? They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot. They took all the trees, they put them in a tree museum They charged the people a dollar and a half just to see them Don`t it always go to show You never know what you got till it`s gone ? They paved paradise, they put up a parking lot.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:01 p.m.

I'm just curious seeing that bike lanes are the " in " thing nowadays why hasn't the county done anything with the one on Packard between Hewitt and Carptender ? or is that the townships problem ?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

Hold it.I think I mis typed ( inter net equivalent of mis spoke ).I meant Hewitt and Golfside )


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

How are they going to carve all these lanes out of what's there already? Anyone who has driven on that road knows there's too much traffic for not enough lanes as it is now. Where are they going to come up with the room for 'transit lanes' and 'buffered bike lanes' when the 4 to 5 lanes already there aren't enough to hold the traffic volume? This is insane.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

I am all for public transit an bicycles but anyone who considers a plan that reduces the number of transit lanes between Stadium US-23 has never traveled that corridor between the hours of 3:30 and 5:30 PM.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

The entirety of the plan is intended for the future. The plan explicitly says that these scenarios cannot be achieved without a reduction in automobile traffic. This is not going to happen tomorrow. The plan is a vision for the future. Across the US, we are already seeing decreasing numbers of people driving and increasing transit ridership. In Washtenaw County, this trend is continuing as well. West of 23, there will always be 2 lanes of through traffic due to Ann Arbor being a huge pull for the region. However, going east of 23, traffic is already significantly lower than on the AA side of 23. Here, it will be more feasible to reduce traffic lanes in the future, especially if the trend continues towards fewer autos on the road.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Does anyone really think that Washtenaw Avenue could be one lane of traffic for cars in each direction? But that is what the "Dedicated Transit" alternative suggests. I think it would result in the worst traffic jam you've ever experienced between Stadium and U.S. 23.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 6 p.m.

@Michael: Could you please email me the document you are referencing or point me to where I can get it? I'd love to see it. Our bank owns two properties along Washtenaw Avenue so we have a large investment in seeing Washtenaw Avenue be as awesome as possible. My email is


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 5 p.m.

That image you are referencing is referring to Scenario C to the East of 23. They are not showing what Scenario C would look like on the Ann Arbor side. The Ann Arbor side would still have 4 lanes of through traffic along with dedicated transit lanes. The presentation was significantly longer than what has posted here. It's missing a lot of context and specifics.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

@Michael: The second graphic clearly indicates a two lane road for cars and another two dedicated lanes for buses, complete with buses and a diamond painted on the roadway for limited access. The caption reads: "This hypothetical cross section shows what the road could look like with two vehicle travel lanes, a center turn lane, two buffered bike lanes and dedicated transit lanes. In this scenario, the bicyclists would be placed between buses and vehicle traffic."


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

It most certainly does in option "c" - "this hypothetical cross section shows what the road could look like with two vehicle travel lanes" I agree with Stephen - worst traffic jam ever!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

In none of the scenarios does it call for 1 lane in each direction west of 23. Please re-read the graphics.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

This would work great if people wouldn't drive through the bike lanes. It's very common to see people trying to use a bike lane on the side of the rode like a turn lane or to drive in both their lane and the bike lane simultaneously because they are terrible drivers.

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

There needs to be robust enforcement for those types of major safety issues.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

not excusing them, but they do sweep the bikelane on debris... as long as they don't clobber a cyclist.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

" Buffered bike lanes " ?? who created this latest addition to the tsunami of stupidity .....


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:07 a.m.

Until bicyclists realized they have to follow the same rules of the road that cars do, I don't want to see this. Stop signs and red lights are for you too. They make me too nervous to drive around, add major traffic and there will be fatalities. What about the major money that was put into the widened path all along Wastenaw?

Nicholas Urfe

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

@Blazingly Busy: "I often see the bikers on the road with the rest of the traffic...until they get to the cross walk. At that point they push the button that changes the light and cross with the crosswalk lights instead of the traffic which is it, bikers?" Maybe they're concerned a "busy" driver will make a right turn directly into them. Drivers do it all the time. Don't be bothered because a cyclist takes the safest way through traffic, even if you aren't allowed to do it with your car.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:02 p.m.

@Blazingly and aabikes: When cycling in busy traffic, sometimes the only way to make a "left turn" is to use the pedestrian crosswalk. This is not only legal, but something that law enforcement and bicycle advocacy groups advise as a safe way to make a left turn. Because cyclists are required to ride on the right of traffic, getting into the left-turn lane in a road with a 45 mph speed limit - especially a five-lane road! - can be almost impossible. Cyclists are permitted to use sidewalks AND the road in Ann Arbor, but that comes with the responsibility of deciding when each route is more prudent, yielding to pedestrians when using the sidewalk, and following the rules of the road.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

@Blazingly, that's a great question. And as a cyclist, not one I know the answer to. Sometimes the we have a bike lane, sometimes it's a sidewalk, sometimes it's a mixed-use path, sometimes it's nothing and sometimes it's all three. Talk about mixed signals! In response to your very specific example, bike lanes tend to end at intersections, so I don't know that rolling up onto the sidewalk is "wrong", but then again I don't know what's "right".

Blazingly Busy

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

I often see the bikers on the road with the rest of the traffic...until they get to the cross walk. At that point they push the button that changes the light and cross with the crosswalk lights instead of the traffic which is it, bikers? Do you follow the laws/rules of the road or are you a pedestrian? (I believe the law states the rules of the road, but I don't bike...)


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

The path on the north side of Washtenaw is there for the students to go from campus to Arborland. As if! And it still gets less use than the identical path on the south side of Washtenaw. What a total waste of money!


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

a2cents, The most common reason drivers cut off bicyclists when turning is because some bicyclists insist on pulling up on the right side of a driver who is already in the right lane, preparing to turn. When cyclists stop passing cars on the right, they'll stop getting cut off when the driver turns in front of them. Bicyclists have to follow the rules of the road. I've seen bicyclists speed through red lights, blow stop signs and even ride directly into oncoming traffic on Packard in the middle of the lane during rush hour. Anonymous is right. Adding bicycles to this mix is a recipe for disaster.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Pompous, aggressive drivers accelerating into yellow lights; turning on red where prohibited; speeding in neighborhoods; failing to yield to peds; crowding cyclists or cutting them off when turning... that's all permissible when you rule the road, right? The path you mention?: scary in the extreme on a cycle.

Elaine F. Owsley

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Those of us old enough to remember street cars and electric buses which operated in dedicated space on the streets can't get excited about this plan. We had trains connecting Detroit and outlying areas and then the automobile industry exerted some pressure and a really good system was discarded. Too bad - streetcars don't burn gas.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:44 a.m.

One more - for transit, I would think the best improvement would be signal priority at the intersections. The buses need green lights more than they need a dedicated lane. That signal system is already capable of priority signaling for the buses. What's holding that up?


Thu, May 30, 2013 : 4:20 p.m.

You give the row of cars a green light too, then change the light to yellow right after the bus goes through. The simplest way to handle priority is to just extend greens - if a bus is close, leave the light on green until it goes through, then change the signal. More complicated schemes will advance the timing on the light to change a red to green early for a bus. What "close" means is also something you can use to optimize things. A bus might be "close" to an intersection at 1/4 mile, or 300ft, depending on traffic and whether the bus needs the light changed to stay on schedule. It all requires that the buses transmit their locations (which AATA buses do now IIRC), that the signal system is smart enough to know what to do with the information (again, IIRC, Washtenaw is on SCOOT, so the system is *definitely* smart enough), that the two systems be connected, and the priority system used. Seems like we're stuck between connecting the systems and turning on the priority signaling system.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:58 p.m.

How do you give a bus a green light when it's stuck in a row of cars ?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:38 a.m.

On the pedestrian crossings, no islands??? No overhead signals? I think we've figured out that motorists in Michigan won't obey the crosswalk laws without extra measures. I still get one motorist a week flipping me off or smiling and waving as they blow through the marked crosswalk I'm walking through. The tree lawns would be a nice improvement, though! I would hope they'd put in actual trees instead of short little planter boxes though.

Joe Hood

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

Craig Lounsbury: Traffic laws are archaic with respect to bicycles and steel coffins (er, cars). The state of Idaho has a really nice law that allows bicycles to treat stop signs as yield signs and red lights as stop signs: A lot of car/bicycle animosity can be put to rest by updating laws.

Barb's Mom

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

@KJMClark-I vote for no islands in the cross walks. The islands can not be plowed in the winter and on a major road, the islands are a hazard. I also agree with Craig Lounsbury about people not using the mid block cross walks but I say 10 feet not 30

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, May 29, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

we've also figured out that pedestrians only use the cross walks when its convenient which by observation seems to mean less than 30 feet away. I walk in this town, I ride a bike in this town and I drive a car in this town. I find pedestrians crossing streets 30 feet from crosswalks all the time. I find bicycle riders routinely treat stop signs and red lights as "yield" signs only. So ya motorists misbehave but they are not in an exclusive club in that regard.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:58 a.m.

Only one per week? My experience at the pedestrian crossing on Geddes that takes you to Gallup Park is that 40% of motorists stop (up from 10% a few years ago), 40% see you waiting, see the crossing, but blow straight through, and 20% see nothing.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:31 a.m.

Two notes on the bike lanes. AASHTO refers to a FHWA document on bike lane widths ("Selecting Roadway Design Treatments to Accommodate Bicyclists"), which calls for 6' wide bike lanes on major roads like Washtenaw. So wider bike lanes in that case make sense. However, the way those "buffers" are being designed causes two problems. In the case without transit lanes, you're going to get big piles of debris in the buffer and in the bike lane unless it's swept frequently. The buffer might help with the gravel/glass problem, but it may end up dangerous to move out of the bike lane to make a left turn because of the gravel hazard. The bigger problem is the buffer in the transit lane alternative. Trucks and buses have to pass cyclists at more than 4' if they're traveling faster than 25mph (Michigan Supreme Court - Stockfisch vs. Fox ruling 1936). So putting the transit lane on the right of the bike lane means you're forcing the buses to break the law every time they pass the cyclists, and endangering the cyclists by having a bus pass them too closely. Since cyclists always put their rearview mirror on the left, the buses will be in a blind spot too. Better to have the bike lanes next to the curb, even though the buses will need to cross into them to get to stops. AATA has *that* worked out pretty well, though the safe passing distance is periodic problem.


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 10:30 a.m.

Anyone bike riding on Washtenaw would want a "buffer" of enough height and strength to protect them from cars, not what is shown. And no buffer from the buses?


Wed, May 29, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

I'm a biker. I ride along Washtenaw a lot. I love the image above, and would relish the as-proposed buffer.