Posts Tagged ‘Uniform Traffic Code’

Rochester Hills doesn’t have some basic traffic ordinances

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

This story started with a trip on the Clinton River Trail through Rochester Hills. The trail crosses Crooks Road midblock. There’s a stop sign for the trail users and a crosswalk, but no stop sign for road users.

There’s another sign for trail users: Cross traffic does not stop.

This is odd for two reasons. First, it’s not the intended use of this sign according to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). These signs are for two-way stops that users might mistake as four-way. That’s not the case here.

But secondly, road users are supposed to stop when a user is in the crosswalk. If you’re going to invest in signs, shouldn’t they tell the motorists to yield to those in the crosswalk?

Not in Rochester Hills

Most cities adopt the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC) in their city ordinances which includes a provision for motorists and other road users yielding to pedestrians.

Rochester Hills apparently forgot to include this. It appears as if it used to be in Article III of Chapter 98 according to one of the park ordinances. It’s not there now.

The Rochester Hills City Council did just update these ordinances and included the Michigan Vehicle Code, but they must have overlooked the Uniform Traffic Code. Or did they?

What does this mean?

In Michigan, the “rules of the road” have been divided between the Michigan Vehicle Code and the Uniform Traffic Code. Among many other rules, the Uniform Traffic Code includes:

  • Road users yielding to pedestrians in the crosswalks (Note that state law requires yielding to pedestrians and bicycles only when turning through a crosswalk.)
  • Prohibiting jaywalking and hitchhiking
  • Prohibiting littering on streets
  • Prohibiting driving on sidewalks
  • Requiring pedestrians to yield to vehicles outside of crosswalks
  • Requiring vehicle drivers to exercise due care around pedestrians, but especially children
  • Treating skateboarders, roller skaters, or in-line skaters as pedestrians and prohibiting them from roads

We’re not suggesting you try all these, but if you are struck by a car that fails to yield on a trail crossing in Rochester Hills, don’t expect city ordinances to help.

As for the rest of the Clinton River Trail, Auburn Hills, Pontiac, and Rochester have adopted the Uniform Traffic Code. Sylvan Lake has not.

What are the bike lane laws?

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

With new bike lanes being added in the city of Detroit this year (and many more planned for next year), the question has come up: What are the state laws and local ordinances pertaining to them?

The answer in Detroit is there are none. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

Unfortunately that’s probably true in many cities, villages, and townships (CVTs) across Michigan that are “maintaining” their own traffic law language. We quoted “maintaining” because most CVTs aren’t. While state laws and national model traffic laws for bicycles have been updated, in many, if not most cases local ordinances have not.

Ideally, all CVTs, including Detroit would eliminate their local traffic laws and simply reference the Motor Vehicle Code (state law) and the Uniform Traffic Code (which is a maintained by the Michigan State Police.) By doing this, everyone would be working off the same set of traffic laws and it would be easier this one copy up to date.

But getting back to bike lanes, what does the Uniform Traffic Code say about them?

R 28.1001 Rule 1. Words and phrases.
(1) As used in this code:
(c) “Bicycle lane” means a portion of a street or highway that is adjacent to the roadway and that is
established for the use of persons riding bicycles


R 28.1320 Rule 320. Bicycle paths or bicycle lanes; establishment; traffic-control devices.

(1) When the traffic engineer, after a traffic survey and engineering study, determines there is a need, he or she may establish a part of a street or highway under his or her jurisdiction as a bicycle path or lane.

(2) The bicycle path or lane shall be identified by official traffic-control devices that conform to the Michigan manual of uniform traffic-control devices.

R 28.1322 Rule 322. Bicycle lanes; vehicles prohibited; parking permitted under certain conditions; violation as misdemeanor.

(1) A person shall not operate a vehicle on or across a bicycle lane, except to enter or leave adjacent property.

(2) A person shall not park a vehicle on a bicycle lane, except where parking is permitted by official signs.

(3) A person who violates this rule is guilty of a misdemeanor.

One item we don’t like in the above language is the requirement that a traffic engineer determine “a need” for bicycle lane. We would like to see the survey, study and need requirement stricken. It’s an unnecessary cost burden and “need” can be quite vague.

It’s one thing to do a traffic study and determine the need for vehicle travel lanes in order to accommodate traffic flow. One can measure traffic and plug those numbers into a computer model.

It’s quite another to do a traffic study which  determines how unsafe a road is for bicyclists — both perceived and real — without a dedicated bike lane.