Austin/ Community & Society
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Published on April 02, 2024
Austin Council Aims to Increase Cyclist and Pedestrian Safety with Strict Bike Lane Parking BanSource: Unsplash/Denise Jans

To ramp up the safety of Austin's cyclists and pedestrians, City Council Member Paige Ellis, alongside a coalition of council members, is pushing a resolution that could bring sweeping changes to the city's approach to bike lane enforcement. "This resolution is about making sure people can safely get to their destination," Ellis said. A bid to outlaw vehicle parking in bike lanes citywide comes complete with a proposition for a fleet of e-bikes earmarked for the Transportation Mobility Service Officers and a Volunteer Bike Lane Enforcement Program, as reported by the Austin Monitor.

The directive, if passed by the council, would also spearhead a program aimed at educating first-time parking offenders. Offenders could have their ticket fees waived after completing bicycle-friendly driver training. Moreover, a grace period of six months before enforcing ticket fines has been proposed. Allowing for a period of adjustment reflects an understanding of the gravity of habitual motorist behaviors and an invitation to a collective move towards a more cycle-conscious city. These measures are being undertaken as part of a commitment to "creating a more resilient, safer, and inclusive Austin," Ellis concluded in her discussion with The Austin Monitor.

Currently, parking in bike lanes is illegal only where signage is posted, but this resolution stands to make that rule ubiquitous across Austin. It is a clear response to enforcement struggles, with reports to 311 often resulting in delayed action due to "limited availability of mobility officers and the delay in response times," as noted in the resolution. In an earlier initiative by Houston, success was found through the establishment of a similar bicycle-friendly driver training program, which reportedly enhanced the safety of cyclists and drivers alike, according to Austin Monitor.

The conversation about road safety reaches beyond city resolutions and into the very fabric of the community. In line with this, organizations like Austin Ghost Bike Project, Safe Streets Austin, and Farm&City are taking a stance, calling for zero vehicular fatalities. They've set things in motion with an International Ride of Silence scheduled to commence at 7 p.m. on May 15 starting from Austin City Hall.