City Government (as pertains to bicycle issues)
Last update: June 2013
We have a separate page on the City Council.
Bicycle Program of the City of Austin
Around 1994, the City of Austin started a Bicycle Program in the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Here's a link to the Bicycle Program website.
In 1996, the Bicycle Program became the Bicycle & Pedestrian Program. For simplicity, we will use the old name ("The Bicycle Program"). The goal of the Bicycle Program is to promote cycling and cycling safety throughout the city. Specifics include:
- Implementing the Austin Bicycle Plan. The Bike Program implements the 2009 Bicycle Master Plan, which incorporates the suggestions of the Streets Smarts Task Force (PDF).
- Installing New Bike Racks. The Program has been installed bike racks in public locations throughout the city, providing parking for hundreds of bicycles. The racks are free, but you have to install them yourself. Call the Bike Program to
- ...get free bike racks for your business or apartment complex.
- ...suggest a site for bike racks.
- ...volunteer to help install bike racks (no experience necessary).
Most of the initial bike racks were been installed by Yellow Bike Project members, hired by the City to install the racks.
- Facilitating Spot Sweeping & Repairs. The Program facilitates road sweeping and pothole repairs. Call them to report a hazard requiring sweeping or repair.
- Publishing the Bicycle Map. Available for purchase in local bike shops, as well as online.
- Collecting Statistics. The Bicycle Program is very interested in hearing of accidents, near accidents, and police harassment.
Bicycle Program Coordinator. Annick Beaudet, circa 2007+. Past Coordinators: Colly Kreidler from 2004 to circa 2006, Linda DuPriest from 2/99 to 2/04, Keith Snodgrass from 1997-98, and Rick Waring (the original) from ~1994-97.
Bicycle Advisory Council
Advises City staff about bicyclists' needs, and makes sure that bicyclists are considered in new roadway projects. Here's a detailed description of the council, and their official page on the City website.
Urban Transportation Commission
The Urban Transportation Commission (UTC) is kind of like a committee of the Austin City Council, and its members are citizens appointed by city councilmembers. The UTC considers all kinds of issues relating to transportation in the City. It has little decision-making power in and of itself, but the City Council usually adopts policy which the UTC recommends. Issues of concern to cyclists that the UTC has considered include banning cars from parking in bike lanes, adding bike lanes to certain streets, and requiring downtown businesses to let bikes use drive-through windows. Here's a link to UTC's website, although it contains little more than contact info for the commissioners.
For about five years until about 2005 the UTC included three strong bicycle advocates:, Patrick Goetz, Tommy Eden, and Mike Dahmus, but Tommy and Mike left around that time, leaving only Patrick. About this, Patrick wrote on Feb. 14, 2005:I've grown fat and lazy enjoying the competent and effective efforts of Mike and Tommy. I've said this once, and will repeat it again: As far as concrete action goes, Tommy and Mike have done more to further bicycle transportation issues in the last couple of years than everyone else in Austin combined times 4. When you're tooling down the nice new bike lanes on Jollyville road NOT getting killed by being run down from the back, you might want to give a few moments of thought to the fact that the existence of that bike lane (as well as other facilities) is a direct result of someone's hard political work; i.e. it didn't just happen by accident, and it's not going to start happening by accident in the near future. When you get ticketed and/or arrested for walking across the street at an intersection where the city has posted a "No Pedestrians" sign, never mind that there isn't another intersection for a mile in each direction (no, I'm not making this up), you might wish that someone had been around advocating for the rights of pedestrians and bicyclists in a transportation environment designed to accomodate motor vehicles, and motor vehicles only.
Consequently I think it would be a good thing if someone on this list applied for the UTC position Dahmus is vacating. Lane Wimberley would be a very good candidate, but I'm sure there are others. All you have to do is apply. That's what I did, that's what Tommy did, that's what Mike did. You go to 8th and Congress and fill out an application. You meet with the councilperson. You get appointed, you go to meetings a couple of times a month and read a few documents in between; you start working to make things happen. 4 years later a bicyclist is NOT killed because of facilities you worked to get installed, and more people are biking because the facilities are there. It's not much, but it's a hell of a lot better than nothing. Think about it.
The UTC generally meets once month in the evening (date and location varies), and citizens can address the UTC to give their two cents on transportation issues.
The UTC also has a Bicycle Subcommittee, open to all, which is one of the best avenues for local cyclists to pursue improvements for cycling in the city. Meetings are generally held on the last Wednesday of the month at 6:30 at One Texas Center (505 Barton Springs), in the 8th floor conference room. Here are agendas and minutes from some of the meetings. Here's Mike Dahmus' 99-00 Bike Subcommittee site. The Spinning Wheel Project has documented resolutions passed by the Bike Subcommittee in 2000.
Reporting problems with Signals, Signs, and Roadways
Fill out the online form to report problems to the City.
Or by phone:
- For traffic engineering, traffic signs, striping, parking, speed limit, and bicycle related issues, call the main number for Traffic Engineering, 974-7129, and make an official request for the situation to be reviewed. All requests are entered into a computer, a "blue form" is then generated and handed over to the traffic engineer supervisor who then gives the request to one of his 3 engineer technicians. The tech is trained to make the initial decision on whether or not the request warrants a change to be made. If so, the change is made and either way the citizen receives a letter back explaining why or why not the change was made. (this paragraph from the City's Bicycle Program)
Police department's collision database
Search APD's collision database.
(Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization)
CAMPO controls spending on all federal transportation dollars that flow through the Texas Department of Transportation for a five-county region (Travis, Williamson, Hays, Bastrop, and Caldwell). Only projects written into its 25-year plan (which anticipates funding of more than $28 billion) can be funded. It's made up of representatives of local governments.
Typically, it tends to favor roads over public transit and bike/ped facilities. CAMPO reserves 15% of the roughly its STP 4C federal funds for bikes and peds (~$12 million in 2002), but -- surprise, surprise -- often that bike/ped money doesn't get spent.
CAMPO usually meets the second Monday of the month at 6:00-~10:30 or so at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center at UT (SW corner of 26th & Red River).
Travis County Commissioners Court
The Travis County Commissioners Court is deceptively titled -- they're really a legislative body like a city council, not a court of law that determines guilt or innocence. They're comprised of a "judge" (more like a chairman) and four comissioners.
Summary of City meetings where cyclists can speak
Citizens can sign up to speak for three minutes at most public meetings. This is an excellent way for cyclists to try to influence local government about cycling issues, especially when there is a specific cycling proposal on the table. Here's a summary of City meetings where cyclists can speak. Meetings are held in various locations right now until the Council selects a new headquarters. (The site of the old building is soon to be occupied by a computer company, as per an agreement with the City.)City Council. Every Thursday. Meetings start around 1:30 and generally run into the evening. Agendas and minutes are available at the City Council site. We also have more info about the City Council.
Urban Transportation Commission. Third Monday of the month from 5:30-8:00. See above for more info on the UTC.
Planning Commission. Every Tuesday at 6:00.
CAMPO (Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. Second Monday at 6:00-~10:30 or so at the Joe C. Thompson Conference Center at UT (SW corner of 26th & Red River).
City gives $100/year to cyclists
Part of every residential City of Austin utility bill is a charge for "Transportation User Fee" (TUF), but households which don't own or drive cars are exempt from the fee. You can easily claim your exemption by calling the City's utility billing department at 494-9400. The fee is currently $7-10/month, depending on what kind of residence you have (2015).
Notice that the exemption actually has nothing to do with whether you cycle; you get the exemption if you don't own and don't drive a car.
This exemption is not new, it's just not widely known. It's been part of the TUF since it was authorized by the City Council in the mid-90s. The text for the exemption is in 14-10-14(D)(1) of the Austin City Code.
Note: We've had reports that City phone reps are denying the TUF exemption to callers who have a driver's license, even if they don't own or drive a car. This is wrong; merely possessing a driver's license shouldn't disqualify you from getting the exemption. If they try to do this to you, contact the Urban Transportation Commission.
Planned roadway & funding changes
Please see our Roadways section. Only 2% of the City's transportation budget goes to cycling facilities (2006). (About 1% of commutes are made by bicycle in the Austin area.)
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