Awareness cited after few tickets for new ordinances
Court records show that just three citations have been issued since a 2009 ordinance was enacted requiring a three-foot buffer between motor vehicles and other road users. This cyclist was on Barton Springs Road headed toward Lamar Boulevard.
Two hot-button city ordinances may have generated a lot of conversation last year, but they have not generated a lot of citations in the months they’ve been in place.
A texting-while-driving ban took effect Jan. 1, and court records show 43 citations have been handed out through July 14.
For the rule requiring three feet between vehicles and other road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians, three citations have been issued since its inception in November.
City leaders and advocates say the number of tickets is not as important as making drivers more aware.
There is “some value in having people think more carefully about their actions,” City Council Member Chris Riley said. “I think the passage of the ordinance has raised people’s awareness of the issues as far as vulnerable road users as well as texting while driving.”
Austin police said there were no major initiatives to enforce the two ordinances — officers write citations as they observe them — but that
Continued from B significant public education by the city and the department has helped inform drivers.
“I can’t say that we’ve seen a decrease in crashes, but what I do know is that citizens are more aware, and I think the majority of them comply with these rules,” Cmdr. Stephen Baker said.
Baker said crashes related to the new ordinances are hard to track because not many drivers will admit to fault or incriminate themselves if they were at fault.
In the first six months of this year, there were 147 wrecks involving cars and bicycles, compared with 168 during the same period last year. In the first six months of 2008, there were 157 such wrecks.
The texting-while-driving and the three-footdistance violations are Class C misdemeanors, which carry a fine of up to $500 and can be appealed in Municipal Court.
For the most part, cycling advocates agreed the ordinances are helping.
“In working with the Legislature last year, the most valuable component is the educational component,” said Mark Stine of the statewide advocacy group BikeTexas. “While there still are problems and issues, I see more awareness as time goes on.”
Stine said even a few citations for both ordinances are steps in the right direction toward safer roads for cyclists.
Gilbert Martinez, president of the Austin Cycling Association, said he hopes the enforcement would help change drivers’ behavior.
“We like that they enforce the law and are all in favor of seeing more of that,” Martinez said. “I think that the vast majority of motorists are attentive, but sometimes you have a collision or tragedy that happens, and those things, of course, add to the tension” between drivers and
By 2003, Gilbert Schroeder had already put in 56 years at the grill in Schroeder’s Place in Thorndale. ‘That’s all he believed in doing was working,’ said his daughter, Julaine Grimm.