Transportation department to address new scooter plans, concerns of disabilities committee


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Transportation Department will update the Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities Friday on the latest when it comes to the shared micro-mobility program.

On Tuesday, transportation officials announced the city’s newest proposal. A plan to impose a 15-cent rate hike per ride on all shared mobility providers in the city.

But that’s not all. Transportation officials are also working on updating its rules for these mobility devices. At present, the city continues to regulate under the rules established more than a year ago. They plan to revise those rules by early 2020.

ATD plans to make enhancements including:

  • Limitations on the number of devices deployed upon a single city block face
  • An expansion of the definition of ‘dockless’ to incorporate all types of shared mobility vehicles
  • Geographic zones and boundaries designed by ATD to allow for a more equitable and discreet provision of service
  • Additional penalties for providers who fail to comply with the City Code or Director Rules.

Chase Bearden with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities believes additional penalties could make a difference. He tells KXAN he encounters a blocked right-of-way almost daily. Bearden said he reports his findings to 311, but believes there’s more that can be done.

“It’s barriers for many in the disability community that are going to work, that are trying to pick up the kids, they are going to a bus stop, they’re trying to go to lunch with colleagues. they’re running into scooters on ramps, scooters parked in accessible parking spaces around town over and over,” Bearden said.

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

ATD tells KXAN 311 reports are sent directly to the companies and providers must address the issue within a certain time. If the issue does not get resolved during that time, ATD then sends city crews out to address the issue themselves.

Transportation officials tell KXAN licensees need to respond to complaints and obstructions within the following timeframes:

  • Sidewalk Obstruction of less than 3 feet – 60 minutes;
  • Travel and bicycle lanes – 60 minutes;
  • Transit stop obstructions – 60 minutes;
  • Environmentally sensitive area– 60 minutes;
  • Private property – 2 hours; Rules
  • Rebalancing off-hours – 2 hours;
  • Other obstructions and nuisances – 2 hours
  • Unauthorized portions of parks and trails – 2 hours;
  • Other unauthorized areas – 2 hours.

ATD said they work with the companies to pick up devices up in a timely manner. If needed, the city can impound a scooter or e-bike. The company would then levy charges to recover costs of retrieval, processing and storage of devices.

KXAN also reached out to the city’s 311 department to find out how many reports the city receives of shared mobility devices blocking pedestrian rights-of-way.

In 2018, from Sept.-Dec., the department received 454 reports of dockless devices obstructing city-owned properties, rights-of-way and sidewalks. This year, during that same time period to date, the department has received 286 reports. Overall, since the beginning of the year, the department has received a total of 1,799 reports.

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