Home > Complete Streets, Design the Details, Public Transit > The Ticker tackles downtown sidewalks

The Ticker tackles downtown sidewalks


Thank you

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The Ticker tackles downtown sidewalks and veers into street issues.

Nothing new, but worth mentioning that when people bike downtown they belong on the street and all three lanes–not just the bike lane. In fact, due to poor design of Traverse City’s bike lanes and the likelihood of being doored, it’s is considered practical to avoid the bike lane.

Yes, you can take the left lane…and look good doing it.

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As well, a reminder that TC passed an ordinance last year requiring traffic to stop, not yield, at crosswalks when people on foot present to cross.

More on the rules of the streets.

  1. Max
    July 5, 2012 at 9:43 am

    We need to work on an ordinance that would (legally) allow cyclists to go through stop signs and lights without making a complete stop. If I had to *completely* stop at every stop sign I encounter while riding my bike it would become quite a PITA very quickly. Drivers who don’t bike don’t understand that there’s a huge difference between making a complete stop in a car, which is as simple as pressing a lever with your foot, and making a complete stop with a bike which involves much more effort to stop and start again and, ironically, tends to tick off drivers even more than not completely stopping does.

  2. Greg
    July 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    Not sure what Max means by “If I had to *completely* stop at every stop sign I encounter while riding my bike it would become quite a PITA very quickly. There is no “if”, you are required to as the law stands. This is the biggest complaint I hear about “those bikers”. No one is forcing you to ride your bike, if you feel following the rules is too difficult, than make a different choice.

  3. July 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Nice idea, those ordinances….but, the reality is downtown TC has many summer visitors, not familiar with the road, laws, even one-way street designations….expecting the visitors and ignorant locals alike to actually know to stop for a crosswalk? HA! I was one inch from being an Illinois Mazda’s hood ornament on Tuesday, right in front of Horizon books IN the CROSSWALK. The driver is looking EVERYWHERE else except for the marked crosswalk sign, as they are blinded by the western sky/sun. Imagine painting STOP on the street surface, before the cross walks. Stop means Stop…every car – every time. Imagine a 15MPH speed limit on CASS, Union, State, Front, Park, Boardman and Pine streets. 25 is too fast in the core downtown…..of course, eliminating the one-way street zen-meditation labyrinth would go along way to calming traffic. As long as downtown TC keeps the irrational thinking in place of one-way streets, chaos will be the rule.

  4. July 5, 2012 at 11:21 am

    Ah, the old stop sign debate–where common-sense and a bit of empathy go a long way.

    First, we need to recognize that stop signs were invented for automobile traffic and though they have a place, aren’t always the best solution to neighborhood traffic control. That said, they are the law of the land for all traffic, bicycles included, in Michigan. Not all locations in the States or around the world follow the same one rule fits all approach. I think Max has a point that perhaps changes in the laws need to occur as we begin to retrofit our communities for an increase in self-propelled transportation in the coming years. Idaho is one state that allows people on bikes to regard stop signs as yield signs in certain situations, obvious exceptions being main major streets and highways.

    Greg, if we applied the same logic you propose here, if you can’t follow the rule find a different choice, I doubt we’d have many people driving cars, either. No one is forcing anyone to drive a car, but the rate of rolling through stop signs, rolling trough red lights as we turn right, driving 35 mph in 25mph zones knowing we won’t get a ticket, screaming through crosswalks when people on foot present, and any other litany of offenses that go unenforced when we drive is a far bigger concern to me than a person on a bike rolling through a neighborhood stop sign at 5mph. Perhaps we all need to choose a different choice.

    Actually, that’s a good idea…everyone should change their main mode of transportation for a month and perhaps develop some empathy for what other people experience. Then, perhaps we’d all take the following pledge:

    “I solemnly pledge to behave as considerately as possible no matter how I get around.”

    For review:

    Collection of bicycle laws (M-Bike)
    Michigan Vehicle Code website (keyword searchable)

  5. GregGraetz
    July 5, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Regarding your linked reference to last year’s article on City Code of Ordinances, Uniform Traffic Code Section 410.03, what is the general observation in vehicles adhering to this ordinance? My experience as an every day pedestrian has a majority of cars stopping for the ‘T’ crosswalk at Front & Boardman, about half the cars stopping at the ‘T’ crosswalk of Front & Pine, and maybe 1 in 50 cars at best, but probably much fewer than even that, stopping at the crosswalk halfway between Washington & State going across Garfield. These are what I would consider the three most well-marked crosswalks in town. When taking into consideration the standard walk/don’t walk crossings at other intersections, cars fail to yield to pedestrians when turning right on red on almost a continuous basis, without consequence to the driver since the right-of-way is not enforced by the police department.

    There’s an old Seinfeld episode that involved Jerry going to pick up a rental car upon arriving in some city, and the people at the counter said his car was already gone, even though he had a reservation. The funny part about the scene was the fuss made over how anyone running a business can _take_ a reservation; it’s the _keeping_ of the reservation so the customer gets whatever it is he reserved that is the key to the reservation process. My point is this: it is wonderful that we have this ordinance in the city but I challenge anyone reading this to find a police officer who has enforced this ordinance, either by issuing a ticket for the violation or even just pulling someone over and giving them a warning after educating them about the ordinance. If this ordinance is in place, what percentage of city pedestrians know that it is? What percentage of the vehicular traffic blowing through crosswalks know about the ordinance against what they are doing. Of the cars who stop at the crosswalks when pedestrians are present and attempting to cross, I would bet the vast majority are stopping out of courtesy rather than because they are acknowledging an obligation due to a law or ordinance, and would stop whether there was an ordinance or not. In summary, the ordinance to me seems rather pointless if it is not enforced. Without enforcement, there is no incentive to adhere to the rule. The advantage of proceeding down the road without pause so as to arrive at a destination a little sooner has no counter, disadvantageous result of the threat of a potential ticket. I think concern over possibly getting a speeding ticket keeps drivers from going in excess of the posted limit more than concern for safety, at least within a certain range of excess speed. Without 2 separate but equally important steps associated with passing an ordinance for cars and bikes having to stop when pedestrians are present in a crosswalk, which are (1) education that the ordinance even exists; and, (2) enforcement of the ordinance to the full extent, stopping for pedestrians will just fall back to being an occasional act of courtesy and the ordinance may as well not even ever have been written.

    One obvious exception to this is the mid-block crossings in the middle of downtown on Front St. between Park & Union, where the signage actually states a legal obligation to stop for pedestrians. However, I have still never witnessed a driver being stopped by a city police officer as a deterent for disobeying this rule.

    It is easy to argue that city police may have better ways to spend their time than enforcing failure to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, and unfortunately it will probably take a tragedy to ever change its position on the order of priorities. (We did have an instance in Ann Arbor where a pedestrian was killed by being run over by a car going through the crosswalk on Plymouth Rd. back about 10 years ago or so, and it was sad that it took that event happening in order to get Ann Arbor and its city police to consider enforcement of crosswalk safety).

    If the city is worried about the cost of keeping more than a certain quantity of police officers on shift at any same designated time interval, it would be easy to post one or two at just about any crosswalk or intersection in town for a day and have them write tickets all day long to all the failure-to-yield violations; the revenue from the tickets would logarithmically make up for the cost of paying the officer, and would likely save a few medical bills as well.

    Thanks for reading.

  6. GregGraetz
    July 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    Absolutely, other ‘Greg’. I’ve seen police pull over and issue tickets to cyclists right in front of my house for failure to stop at a stop sign. While I feel bad for the riders, I like to hope that adhering to the rules of the road while biking means that all of us who choose to pedal instead of drive will be treated better while on the roads sharing them with cars. This goes for the city ordinance requiring the equipping of your bike with lights for half an hour before sunset until half an hour after sunrise as well. Don’t bike the wrong way on a one-way street, signal for your turns and stops, and stop for stop signs and traffic lights. We ask cars to do it and it makes us safer as pedestrians. If you bike safe, our general biking community will ideally be more likely to be seen as deserving of a level of respect and decency from drivers.

  7. Max
    July 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Seems like police time would be better spent stopping drivers who fail to completely stop than harassing cyclists at the stop sign in front of your house. I don’t think anyone would argue that being hit by a half ton machine at any speed is far more dangerous to a pedestrian than being hit by a pedestrian on a bicycle.

    And getting respect from drivers? Yeah, that will be the day I eat my hat! I see so much reckless driving around here, including frequently blowing through the stop sign in front of my house on a residential street at high rates of speed. In the *years* that I’ve lived here I’ve never once seen anyone in a vehicle get a ticket for that.

    While on my bike I’ve had people threaten me with their vehicles – blowing the horn, revving the engine, yelling at me and getting very close to touching me with their vehicle – all because they don’t like that I’m actually following the rules of the road…completely stopped at a stop sign or stop light waiting to proceed!

    They also have little consideration for me in passing or yielding/stopping, they yell rude things to me out their windows and pull in front of me and stop just to be jerks, again all while I’m following the rules. Why in the world would I want respect from these people? It seems like getting behind the wheel of a car causes people to become the rudest, most inconsiderate…!!

    We need to stop the bias against cyclists around here, it is not they who are rude for rolling through a stop sign when no one is around and no traffic is present. As my driving instructor told me many years ago, driving is about common sense and courtesy. It’s a good rule to follow whether driving or biking. But I’m not at all motivated to seek respect from people who frequently make me feel that my life and health is in danger!

  8. GregGraetz
    July 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    Please don’t misunderstand my earlier post; I am not suggesting the police pull cyclists over at the stop sign by my house. Rather, I am pleading for them to stop the cars who won’t slow to let me walk my bike across the street at Garfield in the crosswalk when I’ve got a trailer full of kids I’m trying to pull. I’m begging them to let me get my bike and my kids on their bikes across Grandview Pkwy without playing a game of Frogger. I’m wishing I could feel comfortable with my kids getting their bikes across the intersection at Boardman and 8th street during the ‘walk’ sign right-of-way. No, I’m not worried other cyclists are going to kill me while I’m riding my own bike. I only mention the stop sign as an aside, highlighting that anyone traveling on the road must follow the traffic laws, but also that if they can pull bikes over at a stop sign, they better be pulling cars over for running through crosswalks with equal or greater frequency.

  9. Greg
    July 5, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I’m confused again Max, probably the hear, sorry. You say bikers, as in you, are being harrased in TC, but at the same time, our City Planner Mr. Sorying is spending time trying to convince a club that TC should be elevated to a “Silver” status for being a more bicycle friendly community. Both can’t be right can they?

  10. July 6, 2012 at 8:46 am

    The ordinance is on the books, but you’re right, the City has yet promoted it to any great attempt. I’ve been wanting to write about crosswalk experiences/observations for several months now, so thank you for the reminder.

  11. Max
    July 6, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Greg, are you saying that my experiences biking around here are not real or valid because someone in city government thinks this is a bike friendly town?

    I don’t know what the criteria are for “silver”, but I will say that I do think this town is bike friendly, at least when compared to other Michigan towns. But rude drivers seem to be everywhere in this state and beyond.

    Also, I’m not really sure why the argument here is even about what we are legally required to do. I’m aware of the rules of the road and don’t need a lecture about them. I was suggesting a rule change for cyclists because we are not in heavy death machines and it conserves energy to roll through stops *when it’s safe to do so*.

    As for rolling stops, one would have to be pretty oblivious to their environment to not notice that most people for most of the stop signs within neighborhoods do not completely stop *whether they are driving or biking*.

    And to GregGraetz, I’m sorry if I misunderstood what you were saying. My rant really wasn’t about you to be honest, what you said just triggered it. It’s more about all the comments I hear around town and also see in other spaces (Ticker article that this entry references, for example) about how terrible cyclists are not following the rules to the letter, but never anything complaining about drivers and their bad driving, which is far more dangerous.

    Your long comment about the lack of enforcement against drivers plus the remark about a cyclist getting a ticket for essentially the same illegal behavior just validates my own observation that there’s a bias against cyclists here. I wonder if it’s because we are more visible being out in the open.

  12. GregGraetz
    July 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Hi Max,

    Just want to make clear in reply to your July 6 9:08 post, approximately 90% of the time I leave the house, all year around, I’m on a bike, and the remaining 10% is about even with 5% walking and 5% driving the one car we still have lingering around here. It would be hard for me to be any more biased in favor of cycling. However, when I’m on a bike, I follow the applicable rules of the road as closely on a bike as I do in a car for each respective mode of transportation.

  13. Max
    July 6, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I guess I don’t understand your point in saying that? Just because you follow things to the letter every single time doesn’t mean most others do. I use my bike for transportation the majority of the time, and sometimes just to ride around because it makes me feel good.

    I’ve been doing that since I was a teenager and I have never ever, even on planned group rides, seen a cyclist who always completely stops at every single stop sign every single time on every single ride. I’m not saying you’re lying, maybe I’ve never seen you riding, but I do know that I see a lot of people biking and see a lot of rolling stops.

    My point is that whether you think it’s right or not, cyclists are already doing rolling stops and it doesn’t seem to be causing any harm (I don’t think drivers being irritated counts since they seem to be irritated no matter where we are or what we are doing on our bikes) or making anyone any less safe so why shouldn’t there be a law change to allow cyclists to legally treat stop signs as yield signs?

    There are already some corners in town that have yields instead of stops (Kelley/Barlow, Grove/Barlow for instance) so why are these intersections different than another just a block or few away from them where there is a stop instead of a yield? It doesn’t make sense and neither does insisting on rules for the sake of safety when there really doesn’t seem to be any evidence to back up that it’s safer to always completely stop. If there is evidence I would love to see it.

    And just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that people go out there and break the law, just suggesting a law change so that most cyclists are in compliance with the law in what they are already doing and the police can spend their time on more serious issues.

  14. Greg
    July 6, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I do agree that the police need to issue more speeding and rolling stop tickets to motorized drivers, never said they shouldn’t or cars don’t do it. But just because you disagree with a law does not mean it is ok for you to break that law. The girl from the PAC “TART”, I think her name was Lee Maynard, gave a presentation a few months ago at a City Commission meeting and proudly admitted she rides the wrong way down 7th street to get to work because it’s easier. She blamed it on bad city planning with one-way traffic on 7th so she chooses to ignore the law. I for one was disturbed by this, stating it was inconvenient for her so she ignores the law is not a good example for a group begging for community support
    There are many laws on the books (way too many) that should not be there, but to just ignore them is selfish. If the bikers in the State or TC can get this “Stopping Law” changed that is one thing and we can have that discussion at a later date. The current law requires everyone to share the roads, and also states that all road laws are to be obeyed by everyone. I don’t understand why this is so difficult to understand. I realize you are not trying to gain anyone’s respect, you made that perfectly clear, but to complain about others not following the laws, while you pick and choose the ones to follow is just plain silly.

  15. Max
    July 9, 2012 at 11:25 am

    If I remember right, after that presentation the mayor at the time said the same thing about riding his bike on 7th street.

    It’s easy to be all self-righteous online, but I doubt people are doing what they say. Not even the riders of the ride-of-silence a couple months ago stopped at every stop sign or even every traffic light, even though they seemed really into road rules and helmets and such.

    I am not debating whether everyone is required to follow the law, I don’t know why that’s so difficult to understand, and my original comment was about changing the law for cyclists – you and the other Greg were the ones who derailed that discussion in the first place.

  16. July 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm

    I ride on the sidewalk like we used to as kids.. its fun, quiet and not threatening from other bicyclists coming at me!

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