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No cars, but bikes and scooters will be allowed on Rainey Street during weekend closure

Thursday, December 5, 2019 by Samuel King

Beginning tonight, Thursday, Rainey Street will close to vehicle traffic three nights a week as part of a pilot program to ease congestion.

Initially, bikes, scooters and pedicabs were going to be banned during the closure, but staff from the Austin Transportation Department decided to reverse course.

“After receiving feedback from (the City Council) Mobility Committee and the Pedestrian Advisory Council, staff revised the pilot plans to allow scooters, pedicabs and bicycles within the closure to maintain access for these modes and support the concept of a shared street,” Austin Transportation Director Robert Spillar wrote in a memo announcing changes to the pilot.

Rainey Street, between Davis and River streets, will be closed to vehicles Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. A study found a high number of people walking in the area on Thursday nights, peaking on Saturday night. There will be designated drop-off zones for ride-share passengers.

Austin Police Department officers will enforce the closures. The pilot program is expected to run until March 8.

Initially, the program was supposed to begin Nov. 14, but the start date was delayed to make adjustments to the plan. While some residents who live in the neighborhood still have concerns, Council Member Kathie Tovo encouraged neighbors to see how it plays out.

“We know things have to change dramatically in the Rainey area,” she said. “The mobility situation in that area is very challenging; the conditions that are in place right now are dangerous for pedestrians and others.”

Staff from the transportation and police departments will collect data and feedback, and make changes to the pilot program as needed. The data will also be used to study the potential impact street closures have on safety and mobility in the area.

This story has been corrected. A previous version of this story incorrectly said Rainey would be closed between Driskill and River. This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT.

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