City bans scooters in certain downtown areas citing traffic, safety concerns

CDC to investigate public health risks of scooters

people+ride+the+rentable+scooters+down+3rd+street.+The+city+has+become+overloaded+with+dockless+mobility+scooters%2C+with+almost+5%2C000+in+the+greater+austin+area+alone
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City bans scooters in certain downtown areas citing traffic, safety concerns

people ride the rentable scooters down 3rd street. The city has become overloaded with dockless mobility scooters, with almost 5,000 in the greater austin area alone

people ride the rentable scooters down 3rd street. The city has become overloaded with dockless mobility scooters, with almost 5,000 in the greater austin area alone

Denique Williams

people ride the rentable scooters down 3rd street. The city has become overloaded with dockless mobility scooters, with almost 5,000 in the greater austin area alone

Denique Williams

Denique Williams

people ride the rentable scooters down 3rd street. The city has become overloaded with dockless mobility scooters, with almost 5,000 in the greater austin area alone

Denique Williams, Staff Writer

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The City of Austin is banning scooters in some areas of downtown during SXSW.   

The city is still in the midst of finding a solution to its growing scooter issues. With the approach of SXSW, the problem seems to only be growing larger.

There are over 4,800 scooters in the city and SXSW brings with it a crowd of more than 70,000 people, creating a dangerous hotbed of crowds and fast-moving scooters all in the midst of downtown traffic.

Students already notice that they are everywhere, but the added danger of SXSW traffic makes the situation more noticeable.  

”I think the scooters are fun really fun when I’m riding them, but when I’m driving they can be dangerous and annoying,” said active scooter user and Austin local Samantha Villanueba.

To cut down on the danger, Austin is attempting to use various methods to keep the scooters out of the way of festival attendees. The city is looking into everything from installing parking boxes to actively ticketing reckless scooter drivers. The first parking box is said by city officials to be installed at the 200 block of W. 6th St. Other parking boxes will be located in various other areas including 4th St.

The Austin Transportation Department (ATD) reports that there have been over 2 million rides taken on these dockless scooters and this high number of rides have produced an equally high number of injuries. So many injuries in fact, that the CDC has been called in by city leaders to investigate scooter-related crashes and injuries.

“It’s a really good idea to ban scooters during SXSW,” said Allison Walter, who works for a lending company downtown. “They are extremely dangerous around people in general but especially in large crowds.”

Walter knows firsthand how dangerous the scooters can be. She was hurt riding a scooter four months ago, injuring her foot and ankle after colliding with a car.  

“It took me two and a half months to ride again. I didn’t even go near one for a long time, but now that I do ride them, I pay very close attention to what I’m doing and ride in bike lanes,” Walter said.

Austin already has specific ordinances when it comes to limiting where people can and cannot ride scooters, but closing off certain streets to scooters may come as an unwelcome surprise to SXSW visitors.

Tourists who may be unfamiliar with the city may find themselves on the wrong side of the law when police confront them about riding the scooters in certain areas of downtown. Initially, APD officers could only issue warnings for reckless driving of scooters, but with the new regulations that are up for discussion March 15, officers would be able to issue immediate citations for individuals who do not ride the scooters in a responsible manner.

“There are just too many people riding these scooters weaving in and out of traffic and running over people’s toes,” continued Villanueba. “ Austin already has so much money, it seems like they are just using these scooters to try and make more.”

SXSW attendees will have to keep a watchful eye for the issues that the abundance of these scooters or the lack thereof may create.

“Pay close attention,” said Walter. “Cars downtown don’t pay attention. You have to pay attention for yourself.”