Ann Arbor City Council: Don't endorse a law that will nullify our crosswalk ordinance!

Ann Arbor City Council: Don't endorse a law that will nullify our crosswalk ordinance!

July 4, 2020
Petition to
Ann Arbor City Council
Signatures: 465Next Goal: 500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Peter Houk

Ann Arbor City Council: Protect the right for all pedestrians to cross the road! Don't endorse a state law that will nullify our crosswalk ordinance

Why this issue is important:  At their July 6 meeting, Ann Arbor City Council will vote on endorsing HB4738, which calls for a statewide crosswalk law.  But HB4738 does not give pedestrians and other vulnerable users the protection they need, and it would supersede Ann Arbor’s existing crosswalk ordinance.  

Ann Arbor’s ordinance provides BASIC legal protections for pedestrians by requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross or within a crosswalk.  City Council should not advocate for removing basic legal protections for pedestrians.

Instead, City Council should take Ann Arbor’s crosswalk ordinance seriously by: 

  • Allocating appropriate resources towards education aimed at motorists and pedestrians regarding their responsibilities at crosswalks;
  • Consistently and clearly marking crosswalks across the city; and
  • Visible enforcement of dangerous driving behavior (e.g. speeding, distracted driving, failure to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks). 

Without our current ordinance, individuals with disabilities, seniors, kids, and those of us who don't wish/aren’t able to dash across busy streets, will not have the legal protections we need. Drivers will no longer be required to stop for pedestrians waiting at crosswalks within Ann Arbor, even when RRFB lights are flashing.  When a driver is only required to stop for a pedestrian already crossing the street, only those willing to dash or dangerously assert themselves into the roadway have any legal protections.

Background on why the current ordinance was adopted:  Ann Arbor City Council unanimously adopted our first crosswalk ordinance in 2010 after a year-and-a-half of research and community dialogue (involving legal staff, police, transportation staff, and community members). There was one major reason that City Council, police and legal staff agreed changes were necessary: the Uniform Traffic Code had been interpreted differently by Ann Arbor 15th District Court than elsewhere in the country.  As a result, police officers were unable to ticket motorists who did not stop for pedestrians at crosswalks (as they do utilizing the "UTC code" in other places in the country like Madison, WI or in California). Walkable cities uniformly recognize and enforce under this interpretation of the UTC. In order to gain the same legal protections assumed in other parts of the country, Ann Arbor chose to make explicit what is assumed in other places:  crosswalk protections begin when a pedestrian is still in the curb ramp.  

Since the ordinance was enacted:  In 2012, the ordinance was amended to clarify language, but City Council affirmed the basic pedestrian protections and kept them in the ordinance.

  • In 2015, City Council adopted the Vision Zero policy goal of zero traffic fatalities by 2025
  • In 2015, City Council adopted the recommendations of the Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force, including preservation of the pedestrian crosswalk ordinance
  • In 2016, city engineering staff developed standardized Crosswalk Design Guidelines for use throughout the city
  • In 2017, Ann Arbor’s Study of Driver Behavior showed that at crosswalks with targeted enforcement actions, the rate of drivers stopping for pedestrians DOUBLED
  • In 2017, City Council funded an independent engineering analysis of the crosswalk ordinance, which determined that it “formalizes existing expectations for driver behavior” and “is consistent with driver instruction in Michigan.”

These actions by AAPD, Engineering staff, and City Council all demonstrate a strong commitment to improving compliance with and understanding of the ordinance within our community.

Today:  There are many proven methods that City Council can use to improve safety for pedestrians: allocate resources for targeted enforcement, approve funding to implement standardized crosswalks designs, and implement traffic calming and slowing measures.  

But endorsing HB4738 will not make pedestrians and vulnerable roadway users safer.  Support for any state-wide legislation should be contingent on Ann Arbor’s ability to retain our crosswalk ordinance and continue to put pedestrian safety first, which HB4738 clearly does not do.

Support now
Signatures: 465Next Goal: 500
Support now

Decision Makers

  • Ann Arbor City Council