Monday, September 12, 2011

Mixed Signals

I live on a block bordered by four one way streets that all go in different directions, which is infuriating at times. Going south on Main requires three left turns, for example. That's nothing, however, compared to the sight of seeing cars going down one way streets the wrong way.

In Kerrytown, this seems to be a more common occurrence than should be normal. While walking towards Zingerman's, I spotted a car going east on Catherine just before the Fifth Street traffic light. From that direction, cars can only go south on Fifth - not straight, and not left. But the car first tried to go through the traffic light, then tried to go north on Fifth, and finally figured a way to get back the right way. But not until a few cars had to be careful not to get into an accident.

I lay most of the blame on this at the feet of traffic engineers, because we have a fairly counterintuitive system of one-way streets in parts of A2. Unlike NYC, for example, where almost all of the streets alternate one-way. we have some parts of town that are just one-way, some that are mostly two-way, and some where the streets change, or point in opposite directions (e.g., Madison at Packard). Drivers have a great deal of responsibility to not only read the signs but look at how traffic ahead of them is flowing. But the city could have tried harder to have some consistency in its traffic pattern design.


  1. So true. When my younger brother was at UM he gave up his car in exasperation after he got ticketed going the wrong way on a 1-way in Kerrytown. Confusing patterns + very young drivers = predictable results.

    Hope you had a nice time Friday night btw... anything exciting happen after I left?

  2. Fear not, it used to be significantly worse. State itself used to be one way in the heart of downtown. Worse yet, it was northbound one way south of Liberty, and southbound one way north of Liberty. In the middle of the intersection was an island, popular among idle teenagers and people yelling about the great lie of carbon dating.

  3. I moved to Ann Arbor this summer and must say that I find the drivers here downright terrible. I've almost been hit several times while using crosswalks in which I had the right of way. I've seen red lights and stop signs alike completely ignored, though only one resulted in a collision. Too many times I've seen cars make right turns in front of bicyclists. I even saw a police officer pull over a car going the wrong way down a one way street and the officer let the offender off with a warning.

    Are these poor driving habits a result of poor city planning or lack of consequence for not slowing down to abide traffic laws? And further more, as a pedestrian and bicyclist - why do I have to be the one in danger of these people?

    I know that I'm going off on a bit of a rant, but if a driver doesn't feel they can safely maneuver their vehicle through the streets of Ann Arbor and abide by traffic laws, perhaps they shouldn't be driving as they are a danger to themselves and those around them.

  4. I think the thing that drives me the craziest is when people drive down Detroit by the Farmer's Market, and then make a patently illegal left turn onto Fifth to get back onto Detroit near Zingerman's. Which is horrifically unsafe, given pedestrians and the car traffic coming south from Fifth by Kingsley.

    Anon: Sometimes I think that we have the problem of a lot of external drivers (out of state, tourism, parents of undergrads) who bring their own styles of driving. Sort of like what happens in DC.
    AH: It pretty much continued in the same vein.

  5. @GH as a former Community High student, I can say I made that illegal left from Detroit onto Detroit more times that I care to mention. What's the statue of limitations on moving violations BTW?

    @Phil, I really miss that little island on State and Liberty. So what if traffic didn't make any sense there. At least we had a pointless traffic island.

  6. I have often felt that the traffic system in Ann Arbor was some grad student's thesis or something. Perhaps he majored in Urban Planning or something. It seems like none of the lights are timed or anything and the lights that should be longer aren't and the ones that should be shorter take forever. It took me the longest time to get used to the streets (I grew up in a town with a fairly nice grid) and here you seem to have streets that go everywhere. With all of that, I barely notice the messed up one ways.

    As for the drivers in this area: