City of Austin looking for public feedback on dockless scooters/bikes

- On Monday morning, Emily Shryock says she was out and about on West Campus when she came across several different spots on the sidewalks where her wheelchair couldn't pass.

"Unfortunately I've seen barriers a lot related to these dockless scooters.  A lot of times you can tell that they've just been maybe left by riders, blocking a ramp or a curb cut.  This is the first time that I've ever seen it where they've been intentionally lined up like that," Shryock said.  

Shryock says the first scooter obstacle she encountered, there was grass on one side so she just went around the scooters.

"The second one there was no way that I could because on one side there was stones and gravel where I was going to get stuck if I went off the sidewalk and the other side was construction material so I did flag somebody down, ask them to take the picture and they offered to move the scooters out of the way," Shryock said. 

Shryock called 311 and also posted the photo to Facebook.  The post is getting hundreds of responses.

"Since then, that particular scooter operator has removed that drop nest from their application so that won't be done at that location anymore because the sidewalk is too skinny," said Jason JonMichael, Assistant Director of Smart Mobility for Austin Transportation.

It's issues like this that JonMichael with Austin Transportation says the city is hoping you'll let them know about. 

"So we're going to go through this right and we need our residents to use 311 and send us where these things are happening so that we can get that information to the operators," JonMichael said. 

JonMichael says the transportation department is encouraging Austinites to fill out this survey about dockless mobility: https://www.surveymonkey.com.

"This survey is a way to make sure that we're listening to the public and we're getting an idea of what's working and what's not," JonMichael said.

Austin Transportation says Austinites can take the dockless survey until the end of the month.  They've already gotten more than 4,000 responses.

"I don't think you can go a day without somebody saying 'we have a congestion problem.'  I would counter that 'we have a design problem.'  Our city is designed for people driving cars," said Katie Deolloz, Executive Director of Bike Austin.

Deolloz is really excited about dockless bikes and scooters.  As for what happened to Emily Shryock, she says it's important to keep the sidewalks clear.

"We also want to see a network that's designed for all ages and abilities, that's how our city should be designed -- again I keep going back to that...city is designed for people of all ages and abilities.  Part of that is just common courtesy and common decency.  If you don't want to be impeded, why would you ever do anything to impede another person?  Especially our community members and our neighbors with mobility impairments," Deolloz said.  

"A lot of the comments and the shares have been very positive, a lot of folks saying 'wow I've never even thought about this from this perspective,'" Shryock said.  

A lot of the confusion about dockless is not just where to put them when you're done but where to ride them.

The City says you can ride on most sidewalks downtown but there are some spots where you can't.  Here is a map of the restricted sidewalks:

A Bird spokesperson told FOX-7:

"We sincerely apologize for the unfortunate and embarrassing misplacement of our vehicles in Austin yesterday. We have been in touch directly with Emily to convey our apologies, and have immediately implemented new processes to correct this going forward.    

Bird values the feedback from Austin community members and we are constantly looking for ways to improve and evolve our service. To help combat issues related to the placement and parking of our vehicles, we are deploying a Bird Watchers Program. Individuals involved in this program will work with local communities to ensure that Birds are being parked, ridden and picked up correctly. We are also planning to partner with key local organizations to help us in this effort, including the Austin Transportation Department and ADA.gov in Austin."


 

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