Why a pilot program to allow electric bikes and scooters on certain parkland trails?

    PARD has heard from electric bike users of a need to safely access certain trails to help improve mobility within the City. In addition there has been an update in dockless scooters and bikes on parkland trails since the City of Austin permitted their use on streets. A public survey conducted for the dockless pilot program on streets found that two-thirds of those surveyed say dockless is an easier and faster way to get around and that people prefer to ride on protected bike lanes or urban trails. In addition, in September 2018, the Pedestrian Advisory Council and Bicycle Advisory Council passed resolutions suggesting that a pilot project be undertaken to understand what allowing electric bikes and scooters on parkland trails might mean.

    Given all of these items and the increasing use of these devices on parkland despite the ordinance that limits their use, PARD decided to implement this pilot program to fully understand the impact and what changes to ordinances might be effective to help manage these devices on parkland.

    Are E bikes, Scooters, and other motorized devices prohibited on city trails by law?

    Yes, they are prohibited. Austin Code of Ordinances § 8-1-31 prohibits any “motor driven device in a public recreation area,” which includes park trails. During the Pilot Program we will also be examining the need for an ordinance change and allowing electric bikes and scooters on the following trails:

    • Johnson Creek Trail
    • Shoal Creek Trail South of 15th Street
    • Northern and Southern Walnut Creek Trail
    • The Boardwalk (Ebikes only)
    • Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake (Ebikes only)

    During the pilot will Austin enforce this city ordinance?

    Yes, the ordinance will still be in effect. However, a small exception for the pilot program trail areas will be carved out during the Pilot Program. The ordinance will still be enforced in other public recreation areas. In addition, Park Rangers will be present on these trails to provide information and assistance to comply with the laws and best practices when using trails. Riders should only use their electric assist or motorized devices on trails that are allowed and must follow the trail speed limit of 10 MPH.

    What trails will motorized devices be allowed on during the Pilot Program?

    Electric bikes and electric scooters will only be allowed on the following trails:

    • Johnson Creek Trail
    • Shoal Creek Trail (South of 15th Street)
    • Northern Walnut Creek Trail
    • Southern Walnut Creek Trail
    • Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake (Ebikes only)
    • The Boardwalk (Ebikes only)

    Trails selected to be part of this pilot program are mostly paved trails that are enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities for recreation. In addition, these trails serve as part of Austin’s active transportation system.

    When will the pilot begin and end?

    The Pilot Program will run from January 2019 to November 2019.

    What data is the City collecting?

    The City will be collecting a variety of data points and feedback including:

    ·  Incidents on park trails involving motorized devices causing injury by location.

    ·  Feedback from trail users and nonprofit partners on their comfort level with these added uses through online surveys, intercept surveys, Austin 3-1-1 comments on motorized devices on parkland and more targeted focus groups.

    ·  Collection of speed of all users to understand if the current 10mph speed limit is being followed and if it is appropriate.

    ·  Feedback on the trail etiquette education campaign to inform users on how to safely use multi-use trails.

    ·  Trail erosion data to understand physical impact to trails.

    What else is the City doing as a part of the Pilot Program?

    In addition to the data collection, Park Rangers and others will engage in an Education Plan for all users on the trails. This education element of the Pilot Program will include conversations on trail etiquette, how to respond to incidents on the trail, and an overview of the laws and recommendations on the trails. Trail users can connect with Park Rangers on the trails or through other existing programs, such as Bark Rangers, Coffee with a Ranger, or Read with a Ranger.

    What if I have a one wheel? Hoverboard? Other e-vehicles?

    This temporary exception to the ordinance only allows electric bikes and electric scooters that adhere to state law definitions. All other motorized devices are still not allowed on Austin trails.

    Where can I share my feedback?

    Your input is important to this project. Please complete a survey to provide feedback or comments on this SpeakUp Austin! website.

    You can easily report any on-trail incidents or comments to Austin 3-1-1 by calling or submitting through the app.