Metro Detroit cities making road improvements to increase pedestrian safety

Posted at 5:22 AM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 06:27:08-04

OAKLAND COUNTY. MICH. (WXYZ) — As the weather warms up and as more people become fully vaccinated, business is starting to pick up again. That includes social districts, allowing people to carry alcohol while walking streets.

With that in mind, 7 Action News wanted to know what city leaders in Birmingham, Royal Oak and Ferndale are doing to keep people safe while walking around this summer.

In Birmingham, extra pedestrian signage will be placed in the middle of Brown, Old Woodward and Eton – ten extra signs in all. Construction has taken place to create more space on sidewalks, including Maple.

In Royal Oak, re-striping is done yearly to help drivers better see crosswalks. New this year, traffic signal upgrades are planned through 11 Mile and 13 Mile Road.

“All of those have optimized signal timing. That helps interact better with pedestrians. There are push bottoms which gives them enough time for pedestrians to cross the road, a clearer crosswalk signal that actually has the countdown on it as opposed to just the flashing hand and you never really know how much time you have,” said City Engineer for Royal Oak Holly Donoghue.

Donoghue says construction is planned at Sixth and Main to create a refuge island in 2022.

In Ferndale, construction is underway at Marshall between Allen and Woodward, which will include bike lanes and crosswalk updates. Crosswalk updates are also planned on all streets seeing resurfacing this year.

Police will also be watching busy intersections.

“Our officers are always out and about especially in the area of 9 Mile and Woodward,” said Jill Mahlmeister with the Ferndale Police Department.

There does seem to be a bit of confusion about what the law states when it comes to pedestrians having the right away.

According to Mahlmeister, the law states drivers need to yield to pedestrians within the crosswalk when they are on the same side of the street, but if they are not on the same side of the roadway they can proceed with caution.

While in most cases drivers should stop, Mahlmeister says people crossing the road should not always depend on it.

“As a pedestrian, I would never just assume a vehicle is going to stop. Again, make sure the roadway is clear before you enter and make eye contact with the driver before you enter that roadway,” said Mahlmeister.

Donoghue says their biggest issue is not drivers, it’s actually pedestrians not crossing safely. She and Mahlmeister both urged people to take advantage of the crosswalks inside of walking into the street without it.