Regarding the Resolution to Endorse HB 4738 and the Creation of a Statewide Crosswalk Law
Ann Arbor City Council,
The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition (WBWC) is disappointed to be revisiting this subject once again. As has been established previously, the WBWC strongly supports the current Ann Arbor Crosswalk Ordinance. Requiring vehicles to stop for pedestrians while they wait at the curb is in fact far safer than requiring them to be within the crosswalk for vehicles to stop as is clearly stated in HB 4738. WBWC would whole-heartedly support state legislation based on the Ann Arbor language, but cannot support HB 4738 as it currently stands. WBWC believes that a requirement to be "within the crosswalk" for yielding to occur has the net effect of requiring pedestrians to wait for traffic to clear. If the pedestrian must wait for traffic to clear, then there is little point in having a crosswalk.
The impact of the Ann Arbor Crosswalk Ordinance has been a marked change in our cultural norms as regards stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks. This new norm is a net positive for our community. Since the ordinance was established in 2010, the percentage of drivers yielding at crosswalks has increased and, in concert with the new in-street signage, has been made easier. Drivers are far more likely to yield the right of way to pedestrians than a decade ago. Reducing the requirements for yielding/stopping would be a step back in the progress we have made to make Ann Arbor a more walkable city. Additionally, given the current pandemic and the significant decrease in “foreign” traffic coming into Ann Arbor, this is a far more opportune time to make the ordinance crystal clear to our visitors upon their return. Any confusion or ambiguity to visitors is far better solved with improved signage when entering Ann Arbor. Lowering standards solves nothing.
Further efforts to make our crosswalks safer have less to do with the specific requirements for yielding, and more to do with creating an environment that lends itself to yielding. We encourage city council to focus on fostering this environment with a focus on vehicle speed reduction. In addition to having a positive impact on yielding compliance, it would also reduce negative crash outcomes should they occur. Most members of our community are willing to yield to pedestrians, but they are driving too fast to do so whether they realize it or not.
The Ann Arbor Crosswalk Ordinance in effect is quite simple: Vehicles yield to pedestrians at crosswalk locations. Everywhere else along a roadway, pedestrians yield to vehicles. It is how we share the streets of our community.
Thank you for your service to the city.
Sincerely, WBWC Board of Directors