Ann Arbor Crosswalk Law Amended

At its Dec. 19, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council gave final approval to a tweak to its pedestrian safety ordinance. The language given final 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, curb line or ramp leading to a crosswalk and to every pedestrian within a crosswalk, when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”

The council struck from the ordinance an addition to which it had given initial approval on Nov. 10, 2011 that required motorists to stop for pedestrians “without regard to which portion of the roadway the pedestrian is using.”

This recent round of revisions to the ordinance comes after the council modified the pedestrian safety ordinance on July 19, 2010 to include 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.” The modification approved on Dec. 19 was intended to address a perceived ambiguity of the word “approaching.”

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. That eliminated phrase was restored in the version approved by the council on Dec. 19.

[Pending Question: Was the change between the first and second readings substantial enough to require an additional reading before the council? Update: According to city clerk Jackie Beaudry, "... nothing proposed (and finally approved) was significant enough to warrant sending the ordinance back as a first reading."]

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]