Monthly Archives: October 2013

How can we improve pedestrian safety?

The City’s Pedestrian Safety Ordinance, which requires drivers to stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street, has been quite controversial. Sometimes the best way to deal with controversies like this is to step back and look at the bigger picture. In that, there should be two things that are not controversial:

  • The goal of a community that provides for pedestrian safety and access;
  • The responsibility that pedestrians, motorists, and the city share to provide that safety.

That’s why Councilmember Sabra Briere and I are working to develop a Citizen Pedestrian Safety Task Force that can look at the data, industry best practices, the specifics of our location, and the full toolbox of safety-enhancing techniques to propose how to meet our shared goal: a community that provides for pedestrian safety and access.

Concurrently, staff are working to secure funding for a more involved approach that would involve a technical committee and additional professional expertise. I believe the task force has value whether or not such funding is secured.

A core resource in this effort is the Federal Highway Administration’s document How to Develop a Pedestrian Safety Action Plan.

Outdoor smoking regulations

Ever have to walk through a cloud of cigarette smoke to get to where you are going? Or wait for a bus in a smoke-filled shelter?

Those are some of the complaints I’ve been hearing from constituents lately, which is why I’m working to draft an ordinance that would prohibit smoking:

  • near business entrances;
  • at public transit boarding and waiting areas; and
  • within designated areas of City parks.

The first two of these are already covered by Washtenaw County regulations, but only the County Health Officer is empowered to enforce it.

The third is based on concerns I’ve heard about smoking in parks, especially in Sculpture Plaza Park where the nearby businesses have been directly affected. I recently received an email from a constituent who used to have her office overlooking Sculpture Plaza Park, but she had to relocate when smoking increased in the park.

That said, the ordinance would only enable the administrator to declare areas of parkland to be smoke free. It would not require that he do so (though at a minimum I think our playgrounds should be smoke free), and if he did he would not need to declare all park land to be smoke free. The goal is to  allow for nuance and nimbleness in implementation.

These are the policy outlines so far, and I welcome your input to help improve the process. Please email me at [email protected], use the contact form, or call my cell phone at: 734-972-8304.