Austin spent millions on improving their infrastructure and now they are looking to citizens to enforce the rules of using that infrastructure. Anybody who reports a vehicle blocking a bicycle lane will now get a bounty when the driver of the vehicle is charged. Yes, it’s a Wild West bounty program in the 21st century.
This program makes sense since police don’t always enforce traffic laws (and in the city I live police refuse to enforce traffic laws) and it encourages more reporting. When drivers block bicycle lanes not only do they endanger every cyclist they are also causing traffic jams, which slow down all vehicles on the road.
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.