Following the death of Sharita Williams in August who passed away from injuries sustained when she was hit by a car on Plymouth road, the city of Ann Arbor and its residents have raised concerns about the efficacy of crosswalks and their notification systems. Two different Ann Arbor city council members are proposing a City Advisory Committee. The committee would spend six to nine months studying crosswalks, ways to make them safer, and ideas to make vehicles more aware of their existence.
A recent article in the Ann Arbor News highlights the current debate about keeping or getting rid of the recent changes to the crosswalk law. Those against the changes argue that the new wording confuses drivers, puts pressure on them, and causes automobile accidents. However; those who are in favor of the change suggest that it ensures the safety of children and people with disabilities.
The new wording, enacted in Ann Arbor two years ago, requires cars to stop when a pedestrian is at the crosswalk, it does not matter if the pedestrian is stepping off the curb or waiting at the curb.
The proposed City Advisory Committee would be a group of city officials as well as city residents who are interested in the matter. Those citizens who wish to take part in the committee can download the standard application form for city boards from the city clerk’s website.
Included in those who favor keeping the new wording is The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition. According to the Ann Arbor News article, they have “launched a petition urging the City Council not to repeal the ordinance.”
This coalition has also recorded and produced facts about the effectiveness of the new ordinance. The WBWC claims that after observing a crosswalk on Plymouth road, they claim that in 2010, cars stopped 1.7 percent of the time, 9.5 percent in 2011, and 63.5 in 2012. These figures cover the time period before and after the city ordinance was passed and put into place. These facts cannot be ignored. There is always more that can be done, but these statistics shed light on how far the city has come since revising the language of the local crosswalk law.