Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

getDowntown Events This Week

7. May 2008 • Juliew
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I wanted to highlight two events being put on by the getDowntown program this week as part of Curb Your Car Month.

The first is a forum called Same Roads, Same Rules? sponsored by the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition. This is tonight (Wednesday, May 7) at 7:00pm in the Downtown Development Authority Conference Room (150 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 301). This public forum will focus on car/bike coexistence on the roads of Ann Arbor and how engineering solutions alone may not be sufficient to address them.

The second event is a panel discussion on real-life sustainable commuting tomorrow (Thursday, May 8) at the Ann Arbor District Library from 7:00 to 8:30pm. Join local commuting celebrities Ed Vielmetti, Scott Munzel (a local Attorney), Tamara Real (Arts Alliance) and Alaine Karoleff (Inner Circle Media) as they talk about their commutes: what methods they use, challenges and surprises they encounter, and most of all, how using a sustainable mode of transportation helps them “get more” out of their commute. Time will be left over for the folks in the audience to share their stories.

Hope to see you at one of these events!



  1. Years ago, I was stopped in San Diego by police in the middle of the night for failing to observe a stop sign while cycling, warned, but not ticketed. So I’ve always wondered: do tickets issued to cyclists count as points against your driver’s license? I wouldn’t think so, but I’d be interested to know for sure.

    I can’t make it to the Same Rules, Same Road tonight, where there’ll be police officers present who I think could answer that question. Along with: How often do you cite cyclists in Ann Arbor for various and sundry bonehead violations while cycling? I’d appreciate it if somebody could go, ask, and report back.


       —HD    May. 7 '08 - 07:20PM    #
  2. I totally applaud these efforts. What irritates me is that everything seems focused on commuting to work. I have had more people than I can count give me crap about how omgwtfbbq I make teh commutez!!1!!1 to work. Look here—I have the best job in the world and I wouldn’t leave even if I won the lottery (for real). It means I have to-gasp!!-drive 30 miles, but it’s worth it. However, I do try to “commute” by bike in the evenings…to EMU, to stores, etc. Personally, I’d like to see some focus on that aspect. Again, I applaud folks who walk/bike to work, but that is not feasible for most of us and I’d like to see some focus on and encouragement of non-work commuting. (I’m sorry if this aspect is focused on and I’ve just missed it)
    Thanks for letting me vent about my pet peeve! :)


       —TeacherPatti    May. 7 '08 - 11:45PM    #
  3. do tickets issued to cyclists count as points against your driver’s license?
    HD, the answer to this is “not in Michigan.” There are other states where a bicycle ticket results in the same number of points as the same infraction in a car.

    How often do you cite cyclists in Ann Arbor for various and sundry bonehead violations while cycling?
    More often now. This meeting was particularly focused on “education and enforcement” and how those things should happen in Ann Arbor and why. The Police Department is looking more at bicycle infractions and has begun ticketing accordingly. So all you bicyclists out there, consider this part of the educational aspect: you must follow all the rules of the road, including (but not limited to) a full stop at a stop sign and a full stop at a red light until it turns green (no, you can’t come to a stop and then continue through the red light).


       —Juliew    May. 8 '08 - 02:48AM    #
  4. Mike Anglin raised the issue at Monday’s council meeting of a cyclist getting ticketed for running a red light (late at night, in this case). It was OT, so the subsequent discussion was limited. Members expressed concern about the $125 (IIRC) cost of the ticket received by the offender, but no concern about the ‘cost’ of a potential collision.

    What I wonder is whether any effort was made to inform the public of this new level of enforcement, if it is that. Did that come up tonight, Julie?


       —Steve Bean    May. 8 '08 - 03:32AM    #
  5. “...you must follow all the rules of the road, including (but not limited to) a full stop at a stop sign and a full stop at a red light until it turns green (no, you can’t come to a stop and then continue through the red light)”

    And please don’t stop at the red light in the street and then jump the bike onto the sidewalk, proceed through the intersection, and then move back into the street. That just looks obnoxious.


       —TeacherPatti    May. 8 '08 - 02:21PM    #
  6. My adherence to traffic laws while biking is pretty much equivalent to my adherence while driving. That is, I obey the law when I see cops but otherwise do whatever I think I can safely get away with.

    The primary difference being that on a bike, with no windows around me, my radar indicating who’s around is much more sensitive. And on a bike I’m quicker and more agile, so I’m more likely to pull a stunt that would get me in trouble in a car.

    But the proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is that I’ve been pulled over in my car by the AAPD five times since last August (one ticket), and on my bike I have had nary a run in with the law, despite many miles logged, some of them not entirely sober.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 8 '08 - 02:27PM    #
  7. Hello all,
    TeacherPatti, thanks for your comments on Curb Your Car Month. The primary reason that the month is so focused on commuting is that that is what my organization does and we organize most of the events for Curb Your Car Month. That’s not to say that there could be a lot more going on. And I applaud the work of Bike Ypsi, the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society, the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition and others who are trying to focus on more than just commuting this month.

    Anyway, that’s the deal, there. Another reason why we focus on commuters is that this is a group of people who can be targeted most readily and who’s change in behavior could most impact the planet, congestion, etc.

    So that’s pretty much the deal.


       —Nancy Shore    May. 8 '08 - 05:46PM    #
  8. “And please don’t stop at the red light in the street and then jump the bike onto the sidewalk, proceed through the intersection, and then move back into the street. That just looks obnoxious.”

    I guess I don’t understand why this bothers you so much. Are you in a race with the bicycle? Are you annoyed that they get somewhere faster than you? I don’t get it because it is perfectly legal in AA to do just such a thing.

    This reminds me of a situation where I was biking to work down Ashley where there was a pretty long line of cars. They would stop at the lights and I would pull up past the cars and stop also. Every time I would pull past this one car, the driver would honk her horn and wave her fist. You don’t own a maroon Saturn do you?


       —imjustsayin    May. 8 '08 - 05:57PM    #
  9. Nancy—thanks!! That does make total sense :) I hopefully will see you at the RAT! on Friday!!

    PSD! Lucky you to get out of 4/5 tickets :)

    “imjustsayin”...um, it doesn’t bother me “that much”. I just said it looks obnoxious. I say that because when bicyclists are in the street, we are to follow rules of the road. To me, “rules of the road” means that you stop at a red light and wait there until it turns green and then you proceed through the light. I guess I’m just not in that much of a hurry that I feel the need to jump my bike on the sidewalk to avoid waiting a few seconds for a light to change.

    I do not own a Saturn and I would never, ever shake my fist at bicyclist or anyone else. I am not that angry of a person and I kinda feel sorry for anyone who is. I have no idea on earth why you would think this is me or why you would jump to this conclusion about me.

    I seem to have bothered you “imjustsayin” and I’m not sure why, but I do apologize. Peace to you.


       —TeacherPatti    May. 8 '08 - 06:55PM    #
  10. On Ashley? How weird. Twice I’ve been flying downhill on Ashley on my bike, going so fast I couldn’t hear traffic over the wind, only to have a car whip up right on my ass and lay on the horn. This is how they repay you when you obey the laws, stay in your lane, and go the speed limit.

    And Patti, I think imjustsayin was justteasing by implying you drove the maroon Saturn. I don’t think s/he meant to hurt your feeling. Oh, and I don’t know how I got out of the tickets, especially considering that they must have a record of my run of bad luck (i.e., the number of times I’ve been pulled over) in their computers. I did, while being let go for speeding, get a “fix that taillight” ticket, but it was one of those get-it-fixed-in-a-week-and-bring-it-in-so-we-can-see-and-we’ll-waive-the-ticket kind of tickets, so I’m not counting it.


       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 8 '08 - 07:13PM    #
  11. TeacherPatti, PSD! got it right. I know you are not the “Maroon Saturn Lady”. I WAS justkiddin.

    My point was that it is legal to ride on the sidewalks in AA just as it is legal to ride on the street. Would I ride on the sidewalk? No. Justcouldnt see why it would irritate you. Thats all.


       —imjustsayin    May. 8 '08 - 08:54PM    #
  12. While most people at the Same Roads forum were in favor of increased education of cyclists and enforcement of laws pertaining to them (this is not just my impression — we did an extremely scientific survey of attendees that totally PROVED this), the sticking point seems to be that someone should have let people know about this new effort ahead of time. Which I’m all in favor of, in that letting the public know about increased enforcement automatically provides education on the subject. I think I’ve heard that in other communities they start by handing out warnings that essentially say “You’re not getting a ticket now but we will start giving them out soon, so you might want to change your behavior accordingly.” Which seems like it would be about as effective without making people hostile to the effort right off the bat.

    An AA News reporter approached the bike cops right afterwards saying something like, “I think it would be an interesting story…” so perhaps some free advertising will be appearing in the paper soon.


       —KT    May. 9 '08 - 04:48PM    #
  13. As far as I am concerned, bicyclists are fast pedestrians who happen to be on wheels, whether in the road or on the sidewalk.

    Who is in charge of this stepped up enforcement? I want a name to vote against this coming election.

    thanks,
    mike


       —mike    Jul. 15 '08 - 04:36PM    #
  14. The stepped up enforcement is a decision by the police department, headed by an appointed chief. It’s not a decision directly from any of the elected officials. Just like no elected officials were directly behind the decisions to fine people for walking on the railroad tracks.


       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jul. 16 '08 - 10:36PM    #
  15. I don’t have a terrifically strong opinion about the new enforcement, but one argument for it is exactly that it counters the notion that “bicyclists are fast pedestrians”. So if it’s causing people to have that sort of discussion, that’s good.

    (The short version: pedestrians, unless they’re sprinting, have a stopping distance pretty close to zero. Cyclists don’t; if you’re biking at any comfortable speed, then bad things happen when someone crosses your path unexpectedly. So you need a right-of-way, and that’s what the standard traffic rules provide you with.)


       —Bruce Fields    Jul. 17 '08 - 02:52AM    #
  16. “I don’t have a terrifically strong opinion about the new enforcement…”

    Though I do have a very strong opinion about cyclists who really run through stops at speed, and don’t tend to notice people stepping into the crosswalk. Ditto for the jokers who like to woosh past your shoulder when you’re on the sidewalk. Any attempt to reign them in a bit is welcomed….


       —Bruce Fields    Jul. 17 '08 - 03:04AM    #
  17. Re. pedestrians and stopping distance. How many times have you had someone step back into your path without looking? Probably more than a few times if you walk through art fair.

    Pedestrians are unpredictable whether you’re walking or cycling; you don’t need right-of-way, you only need SIPDE and the extra caution that comes from being aware that pedestrian’s mental maps only take in to account the area around them within a few steps as of the last 5 seconds. e.g. pedestrians will step out of doorways only scanning the closest several feet at best.


       —mike    Jul. 27 '08 - 09:27PM    #
  18. Clarification: I’m not saying do away with right-of-way, but cars are not equal to bicycles in many important ways. Mass and speed puts them within several pounds and mph of a running pedestrian.

    From my point of view, the order of right-of-way should be:
    1. handicapped
    2. pedestrians
    3. human-powered vehicles / skateboards / rollerblades
    4. scooters
    5. motorcycles
    6. automobiles

    The first few items I see working rather well without laws every day. Even when I see a cyclist go through a light, they are checking for traffic and not causing obstructions; not that I’m out much more than an hour a day to see everything.


       —mike    Jul. 28 '08 - 09:21PM    #
  19. I agree with mike’s hierarchy of yielding. I would go farther to say that semis and other big trucks are #7, and I’d even split automobiles so that big, road-hogging, gas-guzzling, turn-lane-blinking gas guzzlers should yield to smaller vehicles.

    Or, to put it 2 other ways:

    The more damage your vehicle does to the environment and can do to people, the more you need to yield; and

    With great power comes great responsibility.


       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jul. 29 '08 - 01:09AM    #