Comments on: Dec. 2, 2013 Ann Arbor Council: Live it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Kathy Griswold Kathy Griswold Thu, 05 Dec 2013 01:08:00 +0000 At least two staff P.E. were at this council meeting, yet their expertise was never sought. Why?

It would be helpful to have a professional engineer (P.E.) provide a description of how various crosswalk and intersection “designs” in Ann Arbor operate under the local crosswalk ordinance and identify crosswalk and intersection “designs” that are not covered by the local ordinance. For example, the crosswalks at the US23 exits and entrances at Washtenaw have small STOP signs. Does the local ordinance apply?

Also, a professional engineer could define some of the terms, such as “traffic control signal,” “traffic control device” and “traffic control order” and explain how they apply to our crosswalks.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Wed, 04 Dec 2013 16:08:02 +0000 “Briere clarifies what a “traffic signal” is: a red-yellow-green light. So it doesn’t include flashing beacons or stop signs, she explains.”

I think Council member Briere’s remark was meant to dispel any misconceptions arising from an email from the Mayor in which he seemed to assert that an intersection, such as State Street at South University, with three stop signs was not subject to the pedestrian ordinance because stop signs are “signals” under the ordinance.

Section 72 of the Michigan vehicle code defines traffic signals:

“Sec. 72. “Traffic control signal” means any device whether manually, electrically or mechanically operated, by which traffic is alternately directed to stop and to proceed.”

I agree with CM Briere that green-yellow-red lights fit this definition but stop signs do not. I cannot imagine an example of a mechanical device within this definition. I think that HAWK signals, which alternately allow or deny vehicles the right to proceed may fit this definition, too.

On the other hand, a Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) is not a traffic signal. In fact, the Federal Highway Administration says the RRFBs have no legal significance:

“The purpose of an RRFB is to attract attention to the warning sign with which it is associated. The flashing emanating from the RRFB does not have any meaning and does not require a specific behavior from the road user.” [link]

In Ann Arbor, our RRFBs serve the purpose of drawing attention to road signs that conflict with our local ordinance. The ordinance says that a driver must stop for pedestrians at the curb, but our crosswalk signs say that the driver must stop for pedestrians “within the crosswalk”.

Our recently approved non-motorized transportation plan recommends spending another $300,000 to install RRFBs at another 24 sites. The RRFBs are attractive because they are cheaper than regular traffic signals (green-yellow-red) or HAWK signals (flashing yellow-red-flashing red). As Kathy Griswold noted in her comments to Council, our pedestrian safety efforts are marred by doing things on the cheap.

Rather consistently, those who spoke at the Council meeting asked for improved engineering and increased traffic enforcement. I think improved engineering means something better than flashing lights. I assume that increased enforcement will require additional police officers. The soon to begin budget process will show whether those who sought to preserve our unique law will continue to support the expensive engineering and enforcement they have asked for.

By: Chuck Warpehoski Chuck Warpehoski Wed, 04 Dec 2013 04:18:52 +0000 re: jaywalking, the UTC allows pedestrians to cross at locations other than crosswalks, but requires that they yield the right of way to drivers:

R 28.1706 Rule 706. Pedestrians; yielding right-of-way; violation as civil infraction.
(1) Every pedestrian who crosses a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk at an
intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.
(2) A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil infraction.


By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Wed, 04 Dec 2013 02:37:09 +0000 I’ve been told that jaywalking is not illegal in Michigan. Don’t know if that is true. But I agree that if everyone follows traffic rules (including no one jaywalking, but instead going to proper pedestrian crosswalks), everything would be safer. Bicyclers should obey traffic signals. Pedestrians should cross at crosswalks. Drivers should stop at stop signs and not bust through red lights.

When people ignore the common rules of traffic behavior, it makes everyone behave badly.

I’ll repeat that we need better enforcement of any and all traffic rules that we can enforce. More police, please, Council.

(I agree, as a driver I’ve been more aware of crosswalks, too. But as a pedestrian, I’ve seen a lot of inconsiderate behavior on the part of drivers.)

By: Ruth Kraut Ruth Kraut Wed, 04 Dec 2013 02:03:05 +0000 I appreciate the mayor’s veto and that therefore the ordinance will not be repealed. I am looking forward to the recommendations of the Pedestrian Task Force.

Reflecting on my own behavior, I think that over the last year, because of the ordinance, I’ve gotten better at stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks (vs. yielding). Surely I’m not the only one.

And it occurs to me that in cities where jaywalking is low, it’s because pedestrians can get ticketed for jaywalking. Just sayin’. . . (and yes, I’ve been guilty of the same).

By: TJ TJ Tue, 03 Dec 2013 19:48:57 +0000 Was the “stop for pedestrians waiting to cross” ordinance really passed in a rush without research? A couple of speakers mentioned that it was worked on for a year or two before being proposed. Perhaps it felt rushed to those who don[t like it, but is there a history or timeline available anywhere?

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 03 Dec 2013 19:13:10 +0000 I confess that I didn’t plow through the public hearing comments.

Yes, I guess that I was thinking that maybe the ordinance could better be tweaked if it were still on the table.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Tue, 03 Dec 2013 18:31:29 +0000 Vivienne, about this: “No mention that I have spotted in this article and discussion of the pedestrian safety task force that was established by an earlier resolution.”

At least five of the speakers mentioned waiting for a rec by the task force, and Chuck mentioned it as a part of the deliberations. (By my browser’s count there were 11 total mentions in the live update piece). Anyway, my point is that you were not alone in that sentiment in support of waiting for a task force rec before repealing or passing a modified ordinance.

But I don’t understand what benefit you see in basically undoing now what was done on Dec. 2, as opposed to living with the outcome of the vote followed by the anticipated veto. Is it your point that the task force should be free to contemplate various revisions to the ordinance, in addition to whatever other actions it might deem suitable? I don’t suppose there’s anything to preclude the task force from including ordinance revisions in its recommendations. But the charge to that group doesn’t explicitly include a recommendation on ordinance language:

RESOLVED, That the City Council of Ann Arbor will appoint a Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force that will consist of nine (9) residents, and shall include representatives from organizations that address the needs of school aged youth, senior citizens, pedestrian safety, and people with mobility impairments;
RESOLVED, That applications for this task force should be received by the Mayor’s office no later than 4 pm on December 2, 2013, with the task force members appointed on December 16, 2013;
RESOLVED, That the task force will explore strategies to improve pedestrian safety and access within a framework of shared responsibility through community outreach and data collection, and will recommend to Council improvements in the development and application of the Complete Streets model, using best practices, sound data and objective analysis;
RESOLVED, That the task force will also address sidewalk gaps and create a tool for setting priorities for funding and filling those gaps;
RESOLVED, That the task force will also recommend whether pedestrian safety and access should be the focus of ongoing community scrutiny through the establishment of a standing committee on pedestrian safety;
RESOLVED, That the task force will submit its recommendations in the form of a report at the first Council meeting in February, 2015; and
RESOLVED, That the City Administrator will determine the level of staff support needed for this task force.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:51:14 +0000 Re: “So what happens next? I gather the repeal did pass, but the mayor has announced he will veto. I assume that is a separate action, and then it will come back to Council next session?”

The regular routine is for the clerk to present the mayor with the record of proceedings within three days after the meeting. After that, the mayor has three days to file the veto with the clerk. That veto gets reported to the council at its next meeting (Dec. 16). Or the council could call a special meeting to receive that report (please, please, no). From the time of that report to the council – that the mayor has filed a veto – the council has 30 days to vote to overturn, which would require 8 votes. From the charter:

Within seventy-two hours, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, after a meeting of the Council, the Clerk shall present the record of the meeting to the Mayor for approval. Except in cases of appointment or removal of officers by the Council, the Mayor may disapprove, in whole or in part, any action taken by the Council by resolution, order, or otherwise. The Mayor shall file the disapproval and reasons therefor, in writing, with the Clerk within seventy-two hours, exclusive of Sundays and holidays, following presentation of the record to the Mayor. Such disapproval shall be reported by the Clerk at the next regular meeting of the Council or at a special meeting called for consideration thereof. Council action disapproved by the Mayor shall be of no effect, unless re-affirmed by the concurring vote of at least eight members of the Council within thirty days from the time such disapproval is reported by the Clerk.

By: Chris Buhalis Chris Buhalis Tue, 03 Dec 2013 17:44:56 +0000 Thanks for the coverage. I agree with the mayor’s veto and am thankful to all the residents who made it to the meeting to voice their concerns and make their points heard. Repealing (or at least gutting) the current law would not have made anyone safer, in my opinion.