Anyone who has spent time in Austin has undoubtedly sat through the dreaded standstill traffic. Whether it’s on the highway or on tight downtown streets, everyone who commutes in the city is familiar with the seemingly constant phenomenon. Austin Business Journal estimated that Austin’s population increased by 159 people per day from 2016 to 2017. With growth of this magnitude, it is difficult to create solutions to transportation problems without a full-scale overhaul.
Other large Texas cities, like Houston and Dallas, have multiple metropolitan hubs. By contrast, Austin has a single core employment center – downtown, UT, and the Capitol. With 18% of employment concentrated into a centralized location, Austin’s metropolitan complex holds one of the highest density percentages in the United States.
The Austin Transportation Department has done their best to keep up, but with only Interstate 35 and MoPac serving the area, the nearly exponential growth of the city has surpassed any government attempt to mitigate the gridlock.
Fortunately, Austin’s entrepreneurial spirit has inspired some creative solutions to the traffic problems. In this article, we will discuss the innovative ways companies and individuals have taken their shot at navigating the treacherous Austin traffic.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Wait… no, it is a Bird. I’m not talking about the feathery ones that fly – I’m talking about the sleek black scooters you’ve seen zipping around the Austin streets.
Bird Rides, a California based company, released its flock of scooters onto the Austin streets earlier this year, revolutionizing commutes for college students and professionals alike.
Riders can rent scooters for just $1, with a $0.15/minute charge for the duration of the trip. The cheap solution allows commuters to weave in and out of traffic, freeing them up to all of the right-of-way advantages of bikers and pedestrians. The scooters can reach speeds of over 20 mph, yet are user-friendly enough for almost any rider to master the vehicle.
Beyond the aforementioned benefits, the scooter’s biggest push is their dockless feature. Riders do not need to drop off the scooters in any particular area – they can simply park the scooter on any sidewalk and walk away. The scooter will then wait idly for the next rider to use the remote GPS programmed into the mobile app to find the scooter and claim their ride.
The scooters have faced some government backlash recently, but after a little downtime and some pesky paperwork, they are here to stay! Time will tell exactly how influential these scooters will be on your commute, but one thing is for sure… They are pretty dang fun to ride!
The company Lime has offered bike sharing across the country, but couldn’t help themselves when an opportunity arose to break into the scooter industry. Lime-S exploded onto the scene, tossing out over 700 neon motor scooters across the downtown Austin area.
The scooters operate similarly to many of the dockless vehicles that have snuck their way into the market. A rider simply has to download the app, locate a scooter using the built-in GPS, scan the QR code located on the scooter, and ride away!!
For an initial cost of $1 and $.015/minute, these wide-framed, speedy scooters are perfect for any downtown commute!
The simplicity of these devices have made them a fan favorite around Austin and are perfect for any short commute or downtown adventure. With the speed of a car and the accessibility of a bicycle, there is practically nowhere in the downtown area these scooters cannot take you!
Ofo has capitalized on one of the oldest forms of transportation around… the bicycle! By combining the accessibility of ride-sharing and the simplicity of the bicycle, ofo has developed a platform that allows users to rent bikes at a low cost for any duration of time.
Riders can rent bikes for only $1! Ride times vary by city, but most last between 30 minutes and 1 hour.
This cheap alternative form of transportation can get you almost anywhere in the city, and the sheer volume of bikes available make it easy to find a ride! In fact, ofo’s team estimates that they have over 10 million bright yellow bicycles cruising all over the world!
We know it can get hot in Austin, but trust us… That breeze in your face as you cruise down SoCo… totally worth it!
These sleekly designed white bicycles sprung up faster than anyone could anticipate! Almost overnight, their shining frames dominated the downtown scenery (especially the bike racks).i
Riding a pace can be broken down into three easy steps:
1. Find your Pace
The Pace app makes it easy! GPS location points you directly to the nearest bike, or just look around, they are pretty hard to miss.
2. Unlock and ride
To ride, simply swipe! Your app will provide you with all of the tools necessary to unlock your bike – you can even put them on hold so they’ll be waiting for you at the pickup spot.
3. Lock and go
When you reach your destination, find a nearby bike rack and use the built-in lock to secure the bike’s safety. Then… walk away! You can take care of the rest on the app.
For just $1, you can take a Pace bike anywhere (as long as it is in under 30 minutes). To make it even easier, Pace allows users to set up monthly memberships, taking the stress out of dealing with recurring payments.
Pace has done a fantastic job designing bikes for almost anyone, but to be sure they are meeting the needs of all riders, they have set up a program that is truly altruistic. The Pace Pledge program allows users to contact Pace directly if their area is underserved or if the bikes available do not meet their specific physical needs. This could mean a tricycle for those who need a little help balancing, a side-cart for those with visual or hearing impairments, and even hand-cranks for those with lower-body disabilities!
Pace has provided a bike sharing platform for all. With high-quality bicycles and a company that cares, there is no reason these bikes should not be your go-to form of downtown transportation!
Now that you’ve got all the information you need, it’s your turn! Beautiful summer days are not hard to come by in Austin, so what are you waiting for??
All of these platforms offer FREE (yes, you read that right) FREE trials, so there is no reason you shouldn’t hop on and ride!
We hope that you found these tips useful, and maybe you won’t be so confused next time you see a row of brightly colored vehicles pop up outside of your apartment building!
P.s. Most of these companies offer student discounts! Take advantage of your scholarly title to shave a few extra bucks off of that pesky commute.