Dockless scooters are already here, but Austin still wants your feedback

Austin

You may have noticed electric scooters left in front of businesses or homes without locks or chains.

A California-based company called “Bird” launched in Austin last week, just as city officials started seeking out feedback on dockless bicycles and scooters. 

Tuesday night, Austin’s Transportation Department held the first of four listening sessions to gather input from the public. 

The city asked people to share how they get from one place to another and what they expect from dockless mobility options. 

“We’ve been paying attention to this for a while,” said Jason JonMichael, assistant director of Smart Mobility at Austin Transportation Department. 

He said how many permits or what kind of rules will be implemented have not been determined yet, but the city has already identified one area that could be of concern. 

“How these dockless bikes or other modes of transportation are placed at the end of a customer’s trip is the most important part,” JonMichael said. “Because that’s where the tripping hazards come into play. That’s where potential ADA hazards and blockages come into play.”

JonMichael said safety is the city’s number one priority. “As a city, we’re responsible for everyone out there. Therefore we’re responsible for everyone’s safety,” he said. 

Meanwhile, many students at UT Austin are already riding electric scooters around campus.

“It’s cool how they just kind of float around, and you can leave them anywhere and pick them up anywhere,” said sophomore Drew Saltzman.

He said he first rode “Bird” scooters in Los Angeles and was excited to see them launch in Austin.

Saltzman said he doesn’t have a car in Austin, so these dockless scooters provide a great alternative. “First I would walk, then I got a skateboard. I started to skateboard around then B-Cycle came, so I biked everywhere, and now we have these electric scooters.”

Bird told us they obtained a business license to operate in Austin and has been talking with city officials to discuss the best practices. 

The city says as the public engagement process continues if any e-scooters are blocking a sidewalk and left there for more than 48 hours, the scooters will be impounded. 

The company says, however, that shouldn’t be an issue because they pick up the scooters every night to charge them. 

If you missed Tuesday night’s open house, there are more chances for you to provide input.

  • Mon., April 16 – 6-7 p.m., Willie Mae Kirk Library, 3101 Oak Springs Dr.
  • Sat., April 21 – 12 p.m., Earth Day ATX, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St.
  • Sat., April 28 – 2:30-4 p.m., Twin Oaks Library,1800 South 5th St.

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