The Ann Arbor City Council could have weakened protections for pedestrians in its crosswalk ordinance recently. Instead it decided to wait and let a citizen-led task force do its job.
Over a year ago, in December 2013, the Ann Arbor City Council voted to change the city’s crosswalks ordinance which required drivers to stop for pedestrians waiting at the curb. But Mayor John Hieftje vetoed the change. He had co-sponsored the bill in 2010 and helped revise it the next year, and did not believe the ordinance should be changed.
But the issue came up again in the first meeting of 2015. This time Council Member Stephen Kunselman has proposed a change to clarify that drivers do not need to stop if they don’t believe it is safe to do so.
Last year the city council had created a new Pedestrian Safety and Access Task Force, which is in the process of reviewing pedestrian safety issue and plans to make its recommendations in August 2015. Council members felt that it would be confusing to change the ordinance twice in such a short period of time.
The need for strong protections for pedestrian safety in the area is apparent. With the University of Michigan making up much of downtown, foot traffic can be quite high. And accidents are not uncommon. In 2012 there were 60 crashes within the city limits involving pedestrians, up from 45 in 2005.
Pedestrian accidents can be especially dangerous because walkers don’t have the protection of steel, fiberglass, or airbags from a vehicle to shield them from the impact. In busy downtown areas, crosswalks are the safest way to engage with traffic. But the close proximity of walkers, drivers, bicyclists, and parked vehicles mean that accidents still happen.
David Christensen and his team at Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan, can help pedestrians who have been hurt in a collision with a vehicle. They can help walkers recover for their injuries from the driver’s no-fault auto insurance, so they can focus on feeling better. If you know someone who has been struck by a car, contact Christensen Law for a free consultation today.