Proposed Rules Would Make It Impossible To Use Scooters On Butler Hike And Bike Trail

Feb 12, 2020

The Austin Parks and Recreation Department is set to recommend a number of rules regarding scooters on Austin’s trail system, such as speed limits and geofencing to keep scooters off of the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail.

“We heard from the public specifically in regards to the Butler Trail that there was a desire for scooters not to be an added use to that very busy trail,” said Amanda Ross, division manager for natural resources at the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.

Currently, geofencing limits scooters to 8 mph once riders reach the trail. Under the proposal, new geofencing limits would stop the scooters from working on the trail. 

The recommendations come following a pilot program at several trails last year: Johnson Creek Trail, Shoal Creek Trail south of 15th Street, northern and southern Walnut Creek Trail.

The pilot only allowed for electric bikes on the Butler trail, because most of the trail isn't paved. 

A new state law allows the use of electric bikes on trails, but the city still has discretion on rules regarding scooters. The parks department is proposing to allow scooters on paved trails but continue to ban them on unpaved trails.

Ross presented the findings of the study and recommendations to the Urban Transportation Commission Tuesday evening. While some at the meeting called for more police officers on the trail to enforce the rules, others cautioned that could lead to inequitable outcomes.

“Exploring infrastructure improvements, alternative routes ... I think that would make a better use of our time and resources than trying to crack down on infractions when people are just trying to get around and enjoy the city,” said Daniel Alvarado, a member of the commission.

The parks department is also proposing a new campaign to remind all urban trail users about proper etiquette, including yielding. Staff members also hope to work with companies to come up with ways to ensure scooters are parked properly once they reach trails.

The Austin City Council would have to sign off on the proposals, the first of which could be on the agenda in a matter of weeks.

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