Dockless mobility pilot program on Austin trails to begin in December

Lime scooters line a sidewalk in Austin.

Lime scooters line a sidewalk in Austin.

A new pilot program allowing electric bikes and scooters on some Austin trails will begin in mid-December, according to a Nov. 26 memo issued by the Austin parks and recreation department.

The pilot will run nine months, through fall of next year, and will help the parks and recreation, public works, transportation and law departments craft recommendations for potential code changes.

Since Austin City Council authorized a dockless mobility program in April, the number of such electric vehicles licensed to operate within city limits has grown to 11,371—and residents have raised concerns about accessibility and safety.

Motorized vehicles are currently prohibited from public recreational areas, including trails maintained by the parks and recreation department.

The department has received feedback regarding electric bike and scooter use on trails via surveys, email communications, stakeholder meetings and from advocates, per the memo.

In response, the relevant city departments developed the pilot, which will gather feedback from trail users and nonprofit partners, monitor the speed of electric vehicles, identify pinch points, develop a trail etiquette education campaign, update signage to indicate the trails included in the program, and track crash reports and injuries.

Five trails are included: Johnson Creek, Shoal Creek, Northern Walnut Creek Trail, Southern Walnut Creek Trail, and the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

The Ann and Roy Butler Trail will only allow electric bikes. The parks and recreation department heard specific opposition to electric scooters on this trail, whose surface is questionable for safe operation of scooters, according to the memo.

To enforce this program, the parks and recreation department will follow its processes already in place: increasing signage in areas of concern and increasing patrols from the park ranger unit. In more serious cases, the department will work with its parks police unit to address issues.

"Our trails are being used by both electric bikes and scooters," said Amanda Ross, Natural Resources Division Manager for the parks and recreation department.

The pilot, Ross said, will help the city understand the best way to deal with this issue, whether by increasing enforcement funding or investing in divided use trails.

"We're really just trying to understand what our options are," she said.
By Emma Freer
Emma Freer began covering Central Austin for Community Impact Newspaper in 2017. Her beat includes the Travis County Commissioners Court and local business news. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School in 2017.


Austin Public Health planning response in case of coronavirus hospitalization spike

As local health authorities monitor an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, they are bracing for a possible uptick in hospitalizations.

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as of May 27. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County reports 73 new coronavirus cases May 27

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as well.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
As economic restrictions loosen, some Central Texas toll roads are beginning to fill up with traffic

Traffic counts on roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority have consistently climbed since early April.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

Amie Gonser will open 620 Art Gallery & Studio in June as a fine art gallery and space for art education classes. (Courtesy Amie Gonser)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: News on 20 Central Texas businesses and nonprofits

Read about Central Texas business news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage this week.

A new executive has been brought in to fill leadership roles at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Dell Children’s Medical Center, Dell Medical School announce new addition to executive team

A new medical executive has been brought in to fill leadership roles at Dell Medical School and Dell Children’s Medical Center.

Williamson County is preparing to open to the public June 1. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County prepares to open to public June 1

As the county prepares to open its buildings, here is what you need to know.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

The Townlake YMCA is one of the local facilities reopening June 1. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
YMCA of Austin to reopen area facilities June 1

Townlake YMCA, Southwest Family YMCA, Northwest Family YMCA, Springs Family YMCA, Bastrop YMCA and Hay Communities YMCA facilities will be reopening June 1.

Williamson County reported 19 additional confirmed cases of the coronavirus May 27.  (Community Impact staff)
Williamson County reported 19 additional confirmed cases of coronavirus May 27

So far, about 1.59% of the county population has been tested.

Austin skyline
Report: Austin lost more than 129,000 jobs between February and April

As multiple sectors of Austin’s economy temporarily closed stores to customers as part of a nationwide effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, more than 100,000 Austin jobs were lost in the process.