In the love-em-or-hate-em war that has erupted in the short time that dockless electric scooters have swarmed (some) of Austin’s neighborhoods, it’s hard to predict what reactions to the city’s next move will be. According to a Wednesday KUT story, next month the parks and recreation department will allow electric scooters and bikes on a few Austin trails.
The pilot for both e-bikes and e-scooters will take place on four city trails:
- Johnson Creek Greenbelt Trail
- Shoal Creek Greenbelt Trail
- Northern Walnut Creek Trail
- Southern Walnut Creek Trail
In addition, the program will include e-bikes only on the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail on Lady Bird Lake.
Sharp observers might have noted that that e-bikes and e-scooters have already been making their way on to the trails, but technically that’s prohibited by city ordinance—the code bans motorized vehicles, including those rented by Lime, Jump, and Bird, from city trails. This city’s pilot program will provide information on how the vehicles can be best integrated with the runners, cyclists, and hikers already on them.
The program, which is expected to launch in mid-December, will monitor all electric vehicles on the trails (including privately owned ones), and results will determine if they’ll be allowed in the future, as well as how that use will be managed if they are.
According to KUT, the city considers this a chance to weigh in on the vehicles, which have drawn vocal opposition and safety concerns from a sizeable portion of Austin residents (others, highly praise the vehicles, in part because they could mean fewer cars on the road). The department will launch a website with more information about the program in the coming weeks.
Between Lime, Bird, and Uber subsidiary Jump, Austin has about 2,000 scooters on the road, KUT reported.