Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

City of Austin bans parking in bike lanes, provides extra enforcement

Makenzie Long
A person bikes on Guadalupe Street on April 17, 2024.

The Austin City Council ratified a resolution on April 4 banning parking cars in bike lanes, along with approving enforcement of it through new means and equipment.

The resolution specifically directs the city manager to adopt changes to the city’s traffic regulations and will apply to all bike lanes within city limits, except on low-speed and low-volume “neighborhood bikeways,” where vehicles are not separated from cyclists. The resolution also requires the city manager to acquire a fleet of e-bikes and create a volunteer bike lane enforcement task force to help enforce the new rules. 

“Bike lanes are meant for biking, not parking,” said council member Zo Qadri, who represents the University and much of Central Austin, in an email. “It’s a fundamental safety issue. … Adding some teeth for enforcement helps us work towards safer streets for our cyclists.”

Qadri, who co-sponsored the resolution, said parking in Austin’s bike lanes has always been illegal, but this new resolution provides an “additional enforcement mechanism.” He said banning parking in bike lanes will make the city’s bike infrastructure safer for cyclists and bring the city closer to its Vision Zero goals, which aim to lower traffic injuries and fatalities in Austin.

The resolution lays out a six-month grace period after the new policy’s implementation, where the city will issue warnings with educational content instead of parking citations. Past the grace period, the resolution requires the city manager to develop a bicycle-friendly driver training program for first-time offenders of the new parking law.

“I believe enforcement is most effective when coupled with something that prevents repeat offenses,” Qadri said. “Creating a driver training program can help folks understand the importance of following traffic laws and how that contributes to a safer and friendlier Austin.”

Lenore Shefman, a personal injury lawyer specializing in bike crashes in Texas and California,  said traffic blocking bike lanes can create “dangerous situations” for cyclists. She said while Austin has better bike infrastructure than other cities, the city still has room for improvement. 

“Texas should be protecting riders in the sense that we should never be expected to ride on the sidewalk,” Shefman said. “(Cyclists) get hit all the time coming in and out of grocery stores (and) going out onto major roads.” 

Shefman said Austin does have laws protecting “vulnerable road users,” but street designs often do not allow enough room for cyclists to coexist with other road users like cars, trucks and buses.

“Because of our vulnerable road user ordinance, any vehicle over 6,000 pounds is supposed to stay six feet away from a cyclist,” Shefman said. “You can’t do that on Guadalupe (Street). … They take up part of another lane, so there’s no place for people on bikes to go.” 

Shefman said the consequences of parking in bike lanes or not paying attention to non-car traffic can be deadly. Qadri said he hopes the new resolution will make bike travel safer citywide.

“Many Austinites in these areas prefer to use a bike to get between home, work and class,” Qadri said. “It is vitally important to keep them safe in a car-centric society.”

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