Pflugerville officials consider future of dockless bikes, scooters in the city

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Pflugerville city officials are engaging in conversations about dockless mobility options, spurred on by the recent arrival of electric scooters and bicycles.

Dockless mobility vehicles, some council members say, have the potential to enhance the city’s transportation options.

“In the right location, in the right place they provide a great first-mile/last-mile transportation for facilities,” City Council Member Mike Heath said.

Heath continued that he believes the issue is a “phone call issue” for the city, saying council should not look at policy until dockless vehicles become an annoyance or a request from citizens.

That opinion is not unanimous, however. Several city officials are advocating for a “wait-and-see” approach to adopt policies for scooters and bikes. The idea is to let other, larger cities sort out how to manage dockless vehicles and then synthesize their best practices.

While Pflugerville certainly does not see the same volume of scooter usage as Austin does—city of Austin data shows 310,231 dockless vehicle rides were logged in February—dockless options are beginning to pop up.

Pflugerville City Council members have reported seeing dockless scooters at Stone Hill Town Center, on Pfluger Farm Lane and in the Village of Hidden Lake neighborhood.

Mobile phone applications show Lime scooters near Lake Pflugerville, in Wells Branch and as far north as the Star Ranch subdivision in Hutto. One electric bike from Jump—Uber’s dockless bike offering—is located near downtown Pflugerville.

Terri Toledo, communications director for the city of Pflugerville, told Community Impact Newspaper that the city has received no applications nor formal inquiries to deploy dockless scooters.

As of February, the city of Austin had issued 17,650 permits for dockless scooters and bicycles to 10 different companies.

Heath does not believe Pflugerville has the infrastructure, such as sidewalks and bike lanes, to support wide-ranging scooter and bike mobility options at this time, effectively capping the number of dockless vehicles in the city.

There are 316 miles of sidewalk in Pflugerville as of March, according to data provided by the city of Pflugerville.

“You have to have more comprehensive shared-use facilities—in other words, sidewalks, hike and bike path facilities,” Heath said.

Council members in February decided to table the discussion over dockless scooters and bikes until they become a prudent issue. City Manager Sereniah Breland said she would not bring the issue to the dais again until at least two council members have requested an agenda item.

But Council Member Jeff Marsh said he wants all dockless scooters and bikes operating in the city to be impounded until the city adopts a policy. That suggestion is not without precedent. The city of Dripping Springs in March voted to ban dockless scooters from its city limits altogether.

As it stands, policy for dockless options across Pflugerville remains unclear. City staff was not given policy guidance at City Council’s Feb. 26 discussion on the topic. As a result, dockless companies such as Lime, Bird and Jump continue to operate in the city without permits.

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the reporter for Northwest Austin.
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