Have any thoughts on dockless scooters and bikes? The City of Austin wants your feedback

Raga Justin

The City of Austin is accepting public feedback until Friday on dockless scooters and bikes, which have recently taken over both streets and conversations. 

The survey is an attempt by the city’s Transportation Department to gauge public opinion on dockless mobility in order to create official regulation ordinances.

Jason JonMichael, assistant director for Smart Mobility, a city program conducting research on dockless mobility, said the survey is one of the city’s most popular, with over 6,300 responses.  

“I would say its pretty 50/50,” JonMichael said. “Half the folks are saying we need more of this, and we have other folks that are taking the other direction — they don’t want these on the streets anymore.”

The city set emergency rules in May to regulate dockless mobility after bikes and scooters were introduced last year. The city will establish its final rules by November, JonMichael said. 

When official regulations are finalized, the seven companies that operate dockless bikes and scooters around Austin will be expected to comply. 

“We do have the ability to shut people down,” JonMichael said. “If we have bad actors, we will find means and methods to properly enforce those people and drive better behavior.” 

JonMichael said the advent of dockless mobility has helped elevate challenges associated with safety, mobility and blockage of access to transportation, as well as heightened tensions between bicyclists and pedestrians. 

“As a city, we have to figure out what that healthy balance is,” JonMichael said. 

James Lentz, president of the UT Campus Bike Alliance, said he did not see how more mobility could be a bad thing. 

“There are legitimate concerns with right of way of space for pedestrians, (such as) when there’s a scooter going 15, 20 miles an hour on a sidewalk,” civil engineering junior Lentz said. “But there are ways to get around that.”

One possibility would be to create designated road space for scooters and enforce it, Lentz said. The city is also working to develop speed limits for dockless bikes and scooters, JonMichael said. 

Abbi Turner, a communications and leadership sophomore, said she enjoyed using Bird scooters but also saw potential challenges. 

“It’s a cheap way to move, and sometimes you don’t want to walk all the way across campus,” Turner said. “But it can get also get out of hand easily, and there’s danger in that.”