Scooters blocked her path. Her post led to a new program

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With more than 1,000 electric scooters on the road, the Austin Transportation Department said between May and August, the city’s 311 system received 53 calls about scooters.

Not all of them are complaints, they said, but one call made to 311 Monday drew a lot of attention on social media.

“As a wheelchair user, I don’t have the opportunity to just step off a curb or jump over or walk around an obstacle,” Emily Shryock said.

Shryock told us she was on her way to work Monday morning when she noticed several Bird scooters blocking the sidewalk.

“First ones that I saw, I said, ‘Oh this is really annoying and inconsiderate.’ And saw the next one. ‘Wow, this seems to be a pattern.’ And then the third one and fourth one, I was really angry,” she said. “Because that is really cutting off access at multiple points for somebody who is just trying to get where I need to go.”

Shryock said she called 311 to report the scooters blocking the right of way. Tuesday morning, she noticed they weren’t there anymore.

The Austin Transportation Department told KXAN when a 311 call comes in about scooters blocking access, they contact the company directly.

The company then has 4 hours to move the scooters. 

A Bird spokesperson said the company apologized directly to Shryock. They’re now implementing a new program called “Bird Watchers Program” to make sure “Birds are being parked, ridden and picked up correctly.”

Lime, another company that has scooters in Austin, said, “We hold ourselves to a less than two-hour timeframe to allow time for receiving the notice, to dispatch a member of our operations team to the location, to remove the scooter, and to communicate successful removal back to the ATD. On average, it takes us 30 minutes to accomplish these items.”

Shryock said some responsibility falls on scooter users as well. 

“Please don’t leave them on ramps. Please don’t leave them in the middle of sidewalks,” she said. “Because not everyone has the option to go around them.”

In the meantime, the city is asking for your feedback on scooter use. They said they’ve received more than 4,700 responses so far.

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