City of Austin installs parking boxes for dockless scooters, bikes ahead of SXSW


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The city of Austin is installing multiple parking boxes due to the rise of dockless mobility scooters being left unattended on the sidewalks.

In an attempt to gain control over the scooter epidemic, the city of Austin will start installing “parking boxes” for dockless scooters and bikes at seven different locations in the downtown area.

More than a year after the new transportation method was introduced to Austin, the rentable scooters and bikes are still seen lying in piles on the sidewalks and streets, impeding people from walking or driving on them correctly.

Another issue the city is experiencing is careless riders on sidewalks and streets, which increases the risk of injury, according to Anne Brown, the chairwoman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. In the first eight months of 2018, the safety commission 9,411 reports of scooter injuries. Most of the injuries were minor, but around a third were broken bones or dislocations.

“We get around 50 people per week that come in with injuries from riding on the scooters,” Dana Thomas, an ER nurse in training at St. David’s Medical Center, said. “People let their kids ride them when they don’t really know how and some people will get on them after a night of drinking. That’s not safe. Especially when you’re riding on the road or right next to it.”

The number of people who do not wear safety equipment while riding these rentals is another issue. Though anyone under the age of 17 is required to wear a helmet, there are no other rules regarding safety equipment such as wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads which could greatly reduce the number of injuries.

“There’s no way that people my age would wear any safety stuff if they were forced to. I never see anyone even wearing a helmet,” Eleanor Lofrisco, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin, said.

It’s possible that people would not want to ride the scooters if they had to purchase or rent their own safety equipment, which could negatively affect the scooter and bike companies.

St. Edward’s University recently banned the scooters on its campus after they began to crowd the walkways on campus, increasing the risk of injury to students. St. Edward’s police were seen loading their cars full of the scooters to take them off campus in the days following the ban.

“I didn’t realize that they’re all gone, but then again I don’t like them. I tried them once downtown and wasn’t a huge fan,” student Maya Carter said. Many students like Carter were indifferent to the ban or didn’t notice it had taken place, but agreed that the campus is probably safer without them.

The first parking box was built at the 200th block of W. 6th St. and the next six will be installed at various locations on 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th St. The city plans to continue building boxes around the downtown area to encourage those who use them to park in places that don’t block pedestrians and drivers.