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Car blocking a bike lane? You might be able to report it and make some money soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2022 by Samuel Stark

In an effort to help city employees cite vehicles for illegally blocking bike lanes, the Urban Transportation Commission unanimously approved a “bike lane bounty” program at its meeting Tuesday night.

The program, inspired by one in New York City, would allow Austinites to use the 311 mobile application to report photo evidence of cars obstructing bike lanes. The person reporting the infraction would then receive 25 percent of the revenue collected by the city for the citation.

“The city spends millions of dollars to make these facilities, and these facilities get blocked all of the time,” said Mario Champion, Urban Transportation Commission chair and author of the proposal. “A successful transportation system doesn’t just move cars, it moves people.”

Champion said the proposal isn’t too dissimilar from other programs already used by the city. One program uses citizens trained by the police to find and cite cars illegally parked in accessible parking spaces around Austin.

“These are things that already happen, they just don’t happen on this topic,” Champion said.

Champion’s proposal mentioned that, under the current city ordinance, the city will only cite a car if it is parked in front of a no-parking-in-bike-lane sign.

“It really should be the reverse,” Champion said. “(As in) you can’t park in a bike lane unless there is a sign that says for whatever reason it is OK to park in the bike lane.”

If approved, the program would also put up signs explicitly stating that parking in bike lanes is a citable offense.

The commission unanimously approved Champion’s proposal; however, commissioners changed the name to the Bike Blockage Program.

The next step for the proposal is going before the Mobility Committee at their next meeting. If it is approved there, an official draft will be written.

Photo made available through a Creative Commons license.

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