Does Ann Arbor’s Crosswalk Law Put Pedestrians at Risk?
Controversy surrounding Ann Arbor’s crosswalk law has reignited following a car accident involving an 8-year-old girl. The girl had been crossing at an intersection near Packard and Woodmanor on her way to school when she was hit by a car. The girl only suffered very minor injuries and was not hospitalized. However, the incident was met with outcry from residents claiming the crosswalks are unsafe and renewed debate over the city’s crosswalk law.
Ann Arbor’s crosswalk law has been a point of controversy since it was introduced in 2012. In Ann Arbor, drivers are required to stop for pedestrians waiting at the curb of a crosswalk if a crosswalk signal is not used at that intersection; a law that differs from those found in most other Michigan cities. The law came under debate again in December 2013 when the Ann Arbor city council voted to amend the crosswalk law, but the measure was vetoed by Mayor John Heiftje.
Data to determine whether or not Ann Arbor’s crosswalk law has been effective in preventing pedestrian car accidents is inconclusive. Many critics of the law believe it creates more problems than it solves. Since Ann Arbor is frequently visited by people from other cities, many are concerned that having a crosswalk law that is different from other areas of Michigan puts pedestrians at risk since out-of-towners may be unaware of the law. Many have reported witnessing near-accidents when a car in one lane stops for a pedestrian, but a car in another lane does not, which is what happened with the 8-year-old girl. The law also creates confusion, as many of the signs in the city say to stop for pedestrians already in the crosswalk, not for those waiting at the curb.