Public Notice: Happy Earth Day, and More
Earth Day celebration meets transportation policy
It is the absolute peak of festival season here in Austin: Between Moontower comedy, Old Settler's music, Fusebox performance art, Indie Meme film, Earth Day, 4/20, and assorted other happenings, if you can't find yourself some fun this week, you're doing something wrong.
Each of those happenings gets some love in the appropriate sections of this issue (actually, we had to make up a new section to commemorate 4/20), so I'm just going to focus briefly on the odd nexus between Earth Day and your own Austin Transportation Department.
Earth Day ATX – this Saturday, noon-7pm at Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon – promises, among a variety of other events, e-bike, bike, and trike demos and workshops, plus a Modern Vehicle Zone, boasting the latest in sustainable vehicle technology.
And alongside those new technologies, Austin Transportation will hold a third public listening session about how to regulate and implement dockless bike, electric bike, and electric scooter systems. That's become the newest battleground in the war over regulating disruptive technologies (see Nina Hernandez's "At War on Two Wheels," Apr. 20), and ATD wants to know what the public wants out of the upcoming pilot program (www.austintexas.gov/docklessmobility). Tell them, from noon to 2pm.
And for the second year, ATD is offering free Austin B-cycle day passes for Earth Day: Just enter the code 42118 at any B-cycle kiosk, and ride free for the day.
Not to be outdone, the Austin Aviation folks have extended the Earth Day window, and will commemorate it with a variety of information booths and a sculptural display to be installed at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport all day long on April 23, on the theme of reducing your environmental impact as air travelers as well as in daily life. So, um, if you happen to be flying anywhere next Tuesday, check it out.
City Council will wade into the scooter wars at next Thursday's meeting, hoping for a less acrimonious process than that which occurred a couple of years ago with ridesharing and short-term rental companies. As noted above, Nina Hernandez previews the jostling between Bird and LimeBike, two scooter-rental giants who've now both jumped into the market on their own terms, without license or regulation.
But meanwhile Spin, another "dockless mobility company," has been working for almost a year on a partnership pilot program that launched at St. Edward's University in February. Spin issued a statement Tuesday with St. Ed's, touting the success thus far, and the collaborative process they've gone through with the city and other entities – clearly trying to (ahem) spin things to differentiate themselves from Bird and LimeBike.
But also on Tuesday, San Francisco ordered all three of the dockless companies trying to start up in Austin – LimeBike, Bird, and Spin – "to stop operating until they can ensure riders are obeying state laws and that the devices are not a hazard to the public," according to an AP report Wednesday.
At press time Wednesday evening, the Planning and Zoning & Platting commissions are holding a joint meeting on the mapping of the zoning categories in CodeNEXT Draft 3; for you junkies, it'll be replayed on the city's ATXN website (www.austintexas.gov/atxn): Thursday (today) at 1pm on ATXN2, and Saturday at 6pm on ATXN1. And there are plenty more meetings coming down the pike; see that schedule here.
Hill Country Ride for AIDS, coming up on Sat., April 28, still needs volunteers for race day: primarily early-morning parking volunteers, and race day route monitors; see more, or donate, at www.hillcountryride.org.
This Monday, April 23, is the last day to register to vote in the May 22 primary run-offs.