AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - SXSW is about to be in full swing. That means thousands and thousands of Austin's colorful rentable scooters will be scooting through town.
Wednesday morning, Austin Energy wanted to make sure their employees knew how to use this dockless stuff...so they held some free training.
Austin Energy employees heard from EMS and police. "I think we average about two injuries per day that we're responding to that's what the average is based on our current data," said Mike Benavides with Austin Travis-County EMS.
"If there's a bicycle lane, kind of stay in the bicycle lane. If there's not and if you feel safe you can drive on the sidewalk. Just remember that if you are driving on the sidewalk that you pay attention to the pedestrians on the sidewalk," said Austin Police Detective Patrick Oborski.
After that, Austin Energy employees like V.P. of Customer Energy Solutions and Corporate Communications Debbie Kimberly put what they learned into practice with a brand new, and free, safety helmet. "So it's really important to learn how to ride these things. I'm older, I don't think I'll be a scooter rider. The electric-assist bike was a lot of fun. No way did I burn any calories going around in a big circle," Kimberly said.
I asked Austin Energy if they're encouraging their employees to take alternate modes of transportation like scooters and bikes or if they just want them to be safe if they do decide to hop on -- they say it's a little of both. "In the case of the E-bikes and E-scooters, 100% Texas wind energy so that's great it's helping keep down greenhouse gas emissions," Kimberly said.
Switching gears from clean energy to traffic flow -- just this week City Council discussed the "Strategic Mobility Plan" -- 74% of Austin-area residents are driving in cars by themselves right now. So to prevent endless gridlock on Austin roads as our population doubles. By 2039, the plan aims to get that number to a 50/50 split between drivers and those who use other modes of transportation.
"Not everyone's going to get out of their cars but some people need to and some people will if you can create the right choices," said Mayor Adler on Monday.
So if the goals of the City's Strategic Mobility Plan do become reality and this is what traffic ends up looking like in 2039, City of Austin employees are already off to a great start here... "If the citizens start seeing City employees doing it, then more people are doing it and it might catch on faster," said Austin Energy employee Jeffrey Sanderson.
Danielle Napattaloong is well on her way. She's already sold her car. "I knew that there are more options for transportation these days. I live close to a bus stop and I knew that the City of Austin also helps employees utilize Cap Metro," Napattaloong said.
And now she's got even more options. "These are electric alternative methods that ultimately hopefully will be more sustainable as we're working towards cleaner energy and supplying cleaner energy in the city," she said.