Ann Arbor OKs Initial Ped Safety Tweak

At its Nov. 10, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave initial approval to a tweak to its pedestrian safety ordinance. The language given initial approval by the council now reads in relevant part: ” … the driver of a vehicle shall stop before entering a crosswalk and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian stopped at the curb or ramp leading to a crosswalk and to every pedestrian within a crosswalk, …”

Some amendments to the law made by the council over a year ago on July 19, 2010 included an expansion of the conditions under which motorists must take action to accommodate pedestrians. Specifically, the 2010 amendments required accommodation of pedestrians not just “within a crosswalk” but also “approaching or within a crosswalk.”

A draft of the current revision that was circulated would have struck the phrase about “approaching” a crosswalk – which resulted in a mischaracterization in other media reports of a possible council action to “repeal” the ordinance.

Besides the “approaching” phrase, the 2010 amendments also included two other key elements. The 2010 amendments included a requirement that motorists “stop” and not merely “slow as to yield.” And the 2010 amendments also eliminated reference to which half of the roadway is relevant to the responsibility placed on motorists for accommodating pedestrians. With regard to that amendment, the intent of the council was to place responsibility on motorists, when pedestrians approach crosswalks on either side of the roadway.

Revisions contemplated by the council this time around do not change the intent of the ordinance on either the “stopping” or the “roadway side” elements. However, language has been inserted to make explicit that motorists have a responsibility “without regard to which portion of the roadway the pedestrian is using.”

To be enacted, the amendment to the pedestrian safety ordinance (like all ordinance revisions) will require a public hearing and a second approval by the council at a future meeting. The council indicated a desire to hold a working session on the issue in December, before the final vote.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city, hall located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]