City of Austin Approves Rules for Micro-Mobility Devices

On May 23, the City of Austin updated the city’s transportation code to incorporate dockless electric scooters and e-bikes. The codes includes all “micro-mobility devices,” such as “scooters, skateboards, and other compact devices designed for personal micro-mobility either privately owned, or part of a shared micro-mobility service.”

The city council approved rules for micro-mobility riders, which are largely similar to the rules for bicyclists. Here are the key takeaways:

  • Riders shall obey all official traffic signals and signs
  • Riders less than 18 years of age must wear a helmet
  • Riders can not ride in the opposite direction of traffic
  • Riders can not use a portable electronic device while riding
  • Multiple riders can not use a single-rider device
  • Riders can not park the scooters in the public right of way or any way that would obstruct pedestrian/vehicle traffic, block sidewalks, or block building entrances/exits
  • Riders shall yield the right of way to pedestrians on a sidewalk or a vehicle in the roadway when exiting an alley, driveway, or building

The rider safety ordinance now allows Austin Police to issue citations for people riding dockless electric scooters in violation of city rules. Violation of the new ordinance is a class C misdemeanor – with a fine of $20 for a first offense and $40 for any subsequent ticket.

Most noticeably, City Code 12-2-13 permits users to ride a micro-mobility device or bicycle on a sidewalk in a “reasonable and prudent manner,” as long as they “yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and crosswalks” and “operate on sidewalks in a manner consistent with the Americans With Disabilities Act and that does not endanger or hinder movement of persons with limited mobility or other sidewalk users.” The rules do not ban riders from using scooters on sidewalks nor do they ban users from riding scooters in city parks. Regulations around parkland use of micro-mobility will be re-evaluated after some pilot programs.

Micro mobility devices provide Austinites an option to reach nearby destinations quicker than a car. Since their arrival in April 2018, scooters have become prevalent in certain areas of Austin, to the point that the city has incorporated them in the transportation code. With safe riding practices, scooters can be useful solutions for the First Mile/Last Mile travel in the context of getting to/from bus and rail stops.

To read the full ordinance, click here.