ANN ARBOR - The city of Ann Arbor has made public its Crosswalk Design Guidelines Project as several recent incidents of pedestrians being struck by vehicles in Ann Arbor prompted a community conversation -- and debate -- about the safety of our crosswalks.
In the most recent case, a 21-year-old University of Michigan student was hit by a car on Jan. 15 while he was in a marked crosswalk.
The student was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, and the 17-year-old driver cooperated with police and was not arrested.
This follows two incidents this month in which local high school students were struck by cars, suffering broken bones, lacerations and other moderate injuries. A total of seven pedestrian crashes have occurred this year.
In a city where the law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross, drivers can be caught off guard if not accustomed to this practice, and some say the law makes pedestrians feel too reassured, causing them to not look before they cross.
Of course, vigilance of both drivers and pedestrians is needed, but many are calling on Ann Arbor to make improvements to crosswalks to prevent further incidents.
City Councilwoman Kathy Griswold, of Ward 2, has pledged to push for $2 million in city funds to make these upgrades. Meanwhile, City Councilman Ali Ramlawi, of Ward 5, has suggested designating a full-time city employee to matters of pedestrian safety.
The purpose of the project was to engage the public in order to:
- "Respond to the public concerns identified through the Pedestrian Safety Access Task Force project regarding inconsistencies in crosswalk design."
- "Learn about community desires and preferences for crosswalk designs, especially how the community understands existing traffic control devices at crosswalks."
- "Share with the community what requirements and guidelines the City already is required or chooses to work with."
The Pedestrian Safety Access Task Force was appointed by the City Council in 2013, and made its final recommendations to the council in 2015, disbanding shortly after.
When it comes to selecting crosswalk designs, the city considers several factors, including vehicle and pedestrian volumes, whether it's adjacent to a school and crash history.
The report says the evaluation of street lighting conditions is an ongoing process, managed through the Street Light Asset Management Team. According to the city, "New crossings installed on collector streets and higher classification will have positive contrast lighting as part of the design and in collaboration with the lighting team."
Many residents say they believe poor lighting is the main issue surrounding crosswalk safety for drivers and pedestrians.
For more information, check the city of Ann Arbor's Crosswalk Design Guidelines Project page.
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