More 11K scooters and e-bikes to operate in Austin during SXSW

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On the eve of the 2022 South by Southwest conference and festivals, Austin residents and visitors alike might notice a new sea of ​​scooters hanging around the city. With traffic volumes increasing as tourists flood the capital, transport officials in the city are encouraging residents to hitchhike, scooter-style.

Austin Department of Transportation data Shared micromobility documents report that there are currently 11,176 scooters and e-bikes available, as of this month – 253 bikes and 10,923 scooters. The city has authorized the use of four providers, described below:

  • Bird: 4,500 scooters
  • Lime: 5,850 scooters; 500 bikes
  • LINK: 1,500 scooters
  • Wheels: 1,750 seated scooters

And while residents and visitors might notice what appears to be more scooters near the downtown corridor, the volume of individual scooters and e-bikes has not changed for SXSW. ATD officials said six-month KXAN vendor licenses are licensed twice a year, in June and December; temporary specialty licenses to increase the number of scooters and bicycles allowed were not issued for SXSW.

For new providers, licensed fleet sizes are limited to 500 devices and can only operate in the city center. When renewing the license, companies can then apply to increase the size of their fleet of scooters and bicycles.

More than 11,000 electric scooters and bikes will be available at the 2022 South by Southwest conference and festivals. (KXAN Photo/Kelsey Thompson)

With many roads partially or fully closed in the Downtown Corridor for SXSW, city transportation officials are encouraging attendees to use public transit and micromobility options to get to and from the festival. During the Spring Festival season, roads such as East 6th Street, Rainy Street, Congress Avenue and Red River Street will be partially or completely closed to through traffic.

Sixth, Red River and Rainey Streets will be closed to traffic daily and will be pedestrian-only areas, officials said. Signs will be posted outside the barricades asking riders to get off their scooters or bikes outside the barricades and walk to their event. Although participants are allowed to cross with their scooter or bicycle, they are asked not to leave the device inside the barrier zones. If traveling to the other side of the barriers, passengers are requested to disembark and pass their device through the barriers before re-boarding and rolling to the other side.

A downtown overview of partial and full closures, event barriers, and pedestrian pick-up and drop-off areas. (Courtesy of Austin Department of Transportation)

City officials said all cyclists and micromobility riders are expected to obey traffic laws as motorists unless otherwise directed by a police officer or traffic lights, signs and directions in the region. Children under 17 must wear headphones when using a device.

Riders are not permitted to use cell phones or other electronic devices while using an apparatus. Parked bicycles and scooters “must not impede or obstruct pedestrian traffic on sidewalks”, according to city ​​regulations.

For more information on SXSW transportation operations — including shuttles, rideshares, and Capital Metro transit offerings — click here.

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