311 app now allows cyclists to report parking obstructions in bike lanes

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Photo Credit: Steph Sonik | Daily Texan Staff

The Austin 311 mobile app now allows cyclists to report bike lane parking violations directly through the app. There were approximately 70 violations of improperly parked vehicles in bike lanes since October 2019. 

The new subcategory “bike lanes” was added to the category “parking violations” in the app last month, said Jacob Barrett, a public information specialist in the Austin Transportation Department. Users can add photos of the parking violation, the location and a description of the vehicle.

Barrett said bike lane parking violations can decrease city mobility. 

“If you have a car blocking a bike lane, that means the cyclist has to take another route, whether it be around the car, into a lane or onto the sidewalk,” Barrett said. 

Alice Hui, supply chain management senior, said she biked to campus three or four days out of the week last semester but chose not to use bike lanes because they were often obstructed. 

“(The 311 app) is helpful,” Hui said. “Whenever I have a complaint, it’s always nice to have a place to submit them.”

The 311 app is part of the 311 call center, which handles nonemergency issues within the city, such as a loose dog or a need for graffiti removal, said Patty Martinez, a public information officer for 311.

“The 311 app is just another channel of communication with the city of Austin,” Martinez said. “We have it available for citizens and community residents to use it as a way to communicate with the city.”

When bike lane violation requests are submitted, the city parking enforcement is notified and can issue a violation to the person blocking the bike lane, Barrett said.

“If we have parking enforcement folks close to an area, it may be really quick, but it really depends on a case-by-case basis,” Barrett said.

By adding the bike lane category to the parking violations service request, Barrett said the Austin Transportation Department will be able to gather more specific data regarding traffic violations.

“(The data) enables us to actually track that category more specifically, and more data is better data,” Barrett said.

The app provides citizens with a list of service requests that can be filled out via a mobile device and sent to the city for remediation, Martinez said. The parking violation service request category was added Dec. 10, with subcategories such as “bike lanes” added continually. 

 

Barrett said the community asked for this new update.

“We’ve had requests for this feature, whether it’s folks tweeting at us on Twitter or actually telling us in person that this is a desired feature,” Barrett said. “It is a great addition for the community.”

Barrett said he hopes to continually update and improve the app to fit the needs of the citizens.

“We’re always looking to add more features to improve safety in our community, whether that be reporting features through 311 or other ways that citizens or residents can get involved,” Barrett said.