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Frequently Asked Questions

To access Standards in pdf, AutoCAD and MicroStation format, click here.  You can use the table of contents to locate details by name.  This is a temporary location for the standards while the publisher sets up their site to provide all formats.

To access Specifications, you can access the publisher's website here.  All other Criteria Manuals and the City Code are also available on the publisher’s website.

 

Click here to view our 2012 Annual Report!

(Our 2011 annual report can be viewed here)

Bicycle Program

Children age 17 and younger are required by law to wear a helmet while on a bicycle. Adults age 18 and older are not required (but are encouraged!) to wear a helmet. Learn how to properly fit your helmet here.

View City of Austin code regarding helmet use.

City of Austin code states that a person may ride a bicycle on the sidewalk, however sidewalks are slower than streets, and are not always as safe as they seem. Crossing motorists may not expect such fast-moving sidewalk traffic. Ride carefully, checking before crossing streets and driveways. Slow down for pedestrians, and give an audible signal well before passing them.

Remember: sidewalk riding is illegal in certain parts of central Austin. Click here for a map of areas that prohibit sidewalk riding.

Paths provide a great alternative to street riding in many cases. Most are shared with pedestrians, joggers, small children, and dogs. As the paths’ fastest-moving traffic, bicyclists should take care to communicate with other users and give them plenty of space. Ring your bell early and often or state audibly, "On your left!"

Share the outer lane when it’s wide enough to keep at least three feet on both sides of you while keeping clear of the curb. You may take the full lane if it is narrower than 14 feet. This keeps you visible, and helps drivers to pass you safely by cueing them to change lanes.

If you are not comfortable taking the lane, and it’s too narrow to share, either choose a different route or ride carefully along the sidewalk if one is available. When riding on the sidewalk, use extra caution when approaching driveways.

Check out this informative video for more information on safe passing!

The following are great examples of proper hand signals to use when riding your bicycle:

 

Photograph showing how to signal on a bicycle.

 

Metal detector loops are placed in the asphalt at street intersections and should detect your bicycle. If you aren't being detected, please report this online or dial 3-1-1. Thanks for helping us be the "eyes and ears" on the roadway!

Photo showing the metal detection loops.

Yes! In order to ride at night, the law requires your bicycle to have:

  • A front white light, visible from a distance of at least 500 feet.
  • A red rear reflector, visible from a distance of 30-300 feet, or a red rear light visible from 500 feet.

Remember: the brighter, the better! Bright lights help ensure that you will be seen by motorists and other road users.

Yes! You can view high and low res versions of the map on CAMPO's website here. CAMPO stands for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization and serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson Counties.

You can make longer trips more bikeable by taking a bus or train part-way. Every full size Capital Metro bus has bike accommodations, as does the Red Line. For more information on biking by bus, click here.

Sharrows are shared lane markings used on roads that are too narrow for bike lanes. Use them by riding straight through the arrow. Sometimes this means taking the full lane, and faster-moving traffic must change lanes to pass safely.

On roads with one lane in each direction, move over (when it is safe) to help approaching cars pass you safely. In wider lanes, sharrows give you a good distance from parked cars on one side and traffic on the other. In both cases, stay visible and alert! Be ready to safely and predictably stop, slow, or change lanes – just like you would do if you were in any other vehicle.

 

Bike lanes are parts of the road that are prioritized for the use of bicycles. Treat them like all other lanes, entering and exiting them predictably using signals.

Cycle tracks, also called "green lanes," are separated bicycle facilities that run alongside a roadway. Unlike regular bike lanes, cycle tracks are typically separated from auto traffic by a physical barrier, such as parked cars, bollards, a landscaped buffer, or a curb. Here are a couple of examples:

Cycle Track on 3rd Street.Bluebonnett Lane cycle track.

 

 

 

 

 

Additional information about cycle tracks can be found on Bike Austin's website here.

For the greatest security, lock up in well-lit places with plenty of foot traffic. Use a U-lock with a cable or a second U-lock to secure the frame and both wheels. Anything loose or secured by quick-release levers might also be stolen if it is left on the bike. Be sure to remove your lights and take them with you.

To increase your chance of recovering your bicycle if it does get stolen, take a few minutes to register it with the Austin Police Department here.

The purpose of the Bicycle Advisory Council (BAC) is to advise the City of Austin and other jurisdictions on all matters relating to the use of the bicycle. Meetings are held every third Tuesday of each month at City Hall. All members of the public are welcome to attend and provide input on agenda items. For more information on the BAC click here.

The door zone is the space in which a bicyclist is in danger of getting hit by a car door. We recommend riding at least 3 feet away from parked cars to avoid collision.

Before you ride, be sure your bike is in good working order – especially the brakes and lights. At night, you must use a white headlight (visible from at least 500 feet) and a red rear reflector (visible from 30-300 feet). A bright red rear light is highly recommended. If rain is possible, give yourself extra time to take it slow. Wearing a helmet is a wise choice and required by law for bike riders age 17 and under.

Bicyclist "ready to ride"

The two green boxes at the intersection of Barton Springs Road and Lamar Boulevard are called “two-stage turn queues.”  They help cyclists navigate turning left through an intersection.

Photo of a two-stage turn queue.Cyclists: Use the boxes when you want to turn left. For example, if you are traveling eastbound on Barton Springs and want to head north to downtown on Lamar, continue straight at the intersection of Barton Springs and Lamar through the green light rather than getting in the left turn lane. Upon reaching the green box, position yourself and your bicycle in the box facing north. When the light turns green for northbound traffic on Lamar, continue northbound. This maneuver is typically know as a “box left turn” or a “Copenhagen Left”.

Motorists: People driving motor vehicles should stay behind the green box while waiting at the red light. If a cyclist enters into the box, they have priority at the intersection. When the light turns green, wait until it is safe to pass the cyclist on the other side of the intersection.

Please click here to view a copy of the approved Bicycle Master Plan.  For additional info, contact our Bicycle Program staff or visit our Bicycle Program page.

In October of 2009, Austin’s City Council approved an ordinance to regulate how drivers pass bicyclists and other vulnerable road users. The ordinance states that:

  • Passing motorists must either move into another lane if one is available, or pass at least three feet from the vulnerable road user (six feet for large trucks and commercial vehicles).
  • Motorists must not pass and then turn right if the turn is unsafely close to a vulnerable road user.
  • Left-turning motorists must yield to vulnerable road users approaching in the opposite direction.
  • Motorists may not drive in any way meant to intimidate, harass, or threaten a vulnerable road user.

You can make safe passing easier by riding predictably, communicating with other road users, and moving over when safe to let faster-moving traffic get by. Also, give others the same comfort zone that you’d like for yourself; don’t pass other vehicles within three feet, whether they’re moving or not. Check out this informative video from the Austin Police Department on safe passing.

You can view the complete ordinance here.

For your convenience, our map is sold at various bicycle shops around town, but our Bicycle Program staff would also be happy to provide you with a map! Simply visit our office at 505 Barton Springs Road, Suite 700 to get your very own copy. Contact our bicycle staff for additional info.

To report an issue, call the citywide customer service line by dialing 3-1-1. You can also report a concern online here.

Please have the address of your area of concern ready to relay to the operator.

Bike Share Program

This is still in the works. Bike Share of Austin is in the process of determining rates for Austin. You can check out other cities’ rates by visiting the B-cycle website and searching under the “Locations and Rates” tab.

Bike share bike next to the Capital Metro Red Line.Imagine a bike that is always ready to ride, where and when you want to ride it. The tires are always inflated and the chain is never rusty. A bike that fits everyone – tall, short and in between. A bike with front and rear lights for riding safely at night, a basket to carry your items, and even a bell for making your presence known. A bike that’s there whenever you need it, and gone when you don’t.

 

The system will be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Bike sharing is a new way of getting around your city. It’s affordable, clean, and simple. It’s good for your health, your pocket, and our environment.

Imagine a network of bike stations located within a few blocks of one another throughout your community. As a bike share member, you can unlock any of the specially designed bikes at any station and ride it to any other station. Fast, simple, inexpensive.

A local non-profit organization, Bike Share of Austin, will handle the day-to-day operations of Austin’s bike share system. This includes things like maintaining the bicycles and marketing the system.

Yes! The system will include Apple and Android mobile applications that allow riders to locate docks and bikes as well as text alerts to riders when bikes are overdue.

Child Safety Program

The City of Austin Child Safety Program’s team of Safety Trainers is available to provide training free of charge to interested schools in Austin. They are also available to assist with holding a bike rodeo for your school. To schedule a training or rodeo, contact Rhonda Bolick, Education Program Coordinator, at (512) 974-5633.

All requests for crossing guards should be supported by the Campus Advisory Council (CAC) for the school. With CAC approval, call Austin 3-1-1 or submit a request online citing the specific intersection for the proposed crossing guard.

The request will be received by the Child Safety Program, which will conduct a pedestrian and bicycle count on an unannounced, fair-weather day to determine an accurate average count. A minimum of twenty children crossing during school zone hours is the usual standard to warrant a crossing guard.

To be considered by the Austin Transportation Department, all requests for infrastructure or engineering changes near a school, such as school zones, must be coordinated and approved by the Campus Advisory Council (CAC) for the school. If the CAC is supportive of changes, the first step is to submit a 311 request with the specific location of the desired school zone.

This request will be received by the Child Safety Program, which will evaluate the request, seek additional information if necessary, and pass it along to the appropriate ATD Traffic Engineer with a recommendation. The Traffic Engineer will then make an assessment, and if the engineer believes a new school zone or change to the existing school zone is necessary, he or she will seek appropriate approval for the changes.

Requests for traffic calming for speed mitigation issues are handled through the Local Area Traffic Management program. The form to request traffic calming devices can be found here.

Safe Routes to School is an international movement with two basic goals: improve the safety conditions of routes to school and encourage more children and families to bike or walk to school. Locally, Safe Routes to School is an initiative of the Child Safety Program. Our goal: To enable and encourage all children to choose a health-enhancing, physically-active mode of transportation to and from school.
 
The Child Safety Program partners with schools to help them develop their own individualized Safe Routes to School Program and Plan. Program elements can include Walking School Buses, Bike Rodeos, classroom walking contests, and much more. Contact our Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator, Chelsea Donahue, to see how to get your school involved, or check out our quick-start guide.

BOW WOW (Bike on Wednesday – Walk on Wednesday) is an encouragement program promoted by the Child Safety Program to motivate more children to bike or walk to school. The month-long program runs each Wednesday, when children who bike or walk are able to enter their names into a raffle. At the end of the month, two bicycles (one for a boy, one for a girl) and ten pedometers are distributed to raffle winners.

To learn when your school will be scheduled or for assistance in starting your own BOW WOW encouragement campaign, contact Rhonda Bolick, Education Program Coordinator, at (512) 974-5633.

Neighborhood Partnering Program

The Neighborhood Partnering Program (NPP) allows citizens to partner with the City to propose small to medium scale projects on City-owned property to improve the places in which they live, work and play.  

Examples of projects that qualify:

  • Beautification/landscaping, including adopting a City median
  • Pedestrian and bicycling enhancements
  • Community gardens
  • Pocket parks
  • Trails, trailheads, and gateways
  • Curb, gutter, and green streets
  • Street furniture
  • Park improvements

All proposed projects must be on City-owned property, have a community benefit and be publicly accessible. They must also come from a community group such as a:

  • Neighborhood Association registered with the City of Austin
  • Neighborhood Plan Contact Team
  • Community service associations
  • Educational, ethnic, cultural, or religious organizations
  • Neighborhood Cost-Share is when you apply to the City to have your project funded.
  • Grant Assistance is when you apply to the City for funding to meet a cash portion of a grant you have received or for which you are applying.
  • Neighborhood Watch Signs is when you apply to the City to install neighborhood watch signs purchased by a neighborhood group.
  • Parking Benefit Project Proposal is when you apply to the City to develop a project proposal to expend public improvement funds earned by a Parking Benefit District.
  • Adopt-A-Median [Coming Soon] is when you apply to the City to enter into an agreement to beautify and maintain a median or other rights of way.

Yes! For cost-sharing programs, completed applications are due June 1st and October 1st of each year; or the first business day thereafter. You can submit your application early, however, all applications will be considered for funding at the same time. Grant Assistance applications can be accepted at any time in order to meet grant deadlines, however, only 1-2 of these are awarded per year. Adopt-A-Median, Neighborhood Watch Signs and Parking Benefit District project proposals are processed on a rolling basis.

First, you need:

  • A great idea!
  • A simple sketch of your idea, with the location identified
  • An idea of the project budget
  • A plan to meet your cost-share through fundraisers, in-kind labor, cash donations, etc. 

Second, talk to your neighbors: show them the sketch, tell them about the cost-share, earn their support! The City requires:

  • The endorsement of the commonly recognized neighborhood association or the homeowner’s association for your area (City staff can help you to identify this).
  • The endorsement of at least 60% of the area bounding the project. (City staff can assist in identifying the affected residents).
  • An agreement to maintaining the project for the life of the project.

Third, request an application to start the process by filling out a form here.

What you'll need:

  • your name, phone number, and organization you are representing.
  • A project location and a brief description of your idea.

*Projects that are determined to be eligible for the Neighborhood Partnering Program will be sent a formal application. 

Fourth, work with the Neighborhood Partnering Program staff to submit the full Neighborhood Partnering Program application and requested back-up materials. Prior to receiving Neighborhood Partnering Program funding:

Your organization will be responsible for maintaining the project for the life of the project. This means that you must be prepared to replace or repair certain aspects of the project if need-be, and must be able to do ongoing maintenance. For landscaping projects, you should be prepared to do maintenance on regular intervals as determined by a project agreement, which is developed with each awarded project.

Cost-share is calculated as a combination of any of the following:

  • Cash is directly applied to the project cost-share.
    • Grants can also be used as a cash match under the cost-share program as long as the granting organization authorizes that use.  
    • Parking revenue earned by a Parking Benefit District may be used for up to one-half of a neighborhood’s cost share proposal.
  • In-kind labor is credited at the same rate non-profits utilize to calculate the value of volunteer hours. That rate is set each year by Independent Sector, and the rate is approved by the Government Accounting Standards Board. The rate is typically around $21/hour.
  • Professional and other in-kind services are credited at fair market value. To receive this credit, the service provider must provide an invoice for services, which will be credited to the project.
  • Donations of materials and equipment are credited at fair market value. 
  • Maintenance such as paying water bills estimated for credit over a 2-year period. Projects are required to be maintained for the life of the project by the successful applicant, and credit for maintenance is given for a 3-year period.

Application tips

Want to submit a strong application? Below, you can find some pointers.

  • Have a complete project description in mind. This part, called the “scope,” is the most important part of your application. In order to evaluate the projects, staff must understand the full breadth of the request. You should be able to describe each item requested with respect to location and size, but you do not have to provide overly detailed specifications. Here are some examples:  
  • For landscaping, a location and general size is fine. Landscaping type can be described as  “native plants and xeriscape,” or an installation pattern can be described. 
  • For parks improvements, describe the location and the type of improvement. For example, a map might be marked with the notation, “install play equipment in areas marked with a red dot.” 
  • When describing your project, it is helpful to list some of your goals so that staff can better assist with technical issues related to the scope. Examples are:
    • Create a safer place for people to walk
    • Add play elements to the park that are attractive and fun
    • Make our street look more residential and attractive
  • Estimate a budget. This will help you with developing the cost-share. 
  • Know your cost-share! In order to be fair to all projects, City staff must calculate the in-kind contributions as accurately as possible. Talk to your neighbors and develop a solid plan so that staff can approve the cost-share.

Staff will review your application to ensure that all the minimum requirements are met, as well as:

  • Ensuring the requested land/area is available for use
  • Ensuring the requested amenity is suitable for the area
  • Reviewing the appropriateness of the scope, budget, cost-share and demonstration of support

If the above criteria cannot be met, the application will not be allowed to proceed. If minor corrections can be made that will allow the application to move forward, staff will give the applicant one week to resubmit. 

Applications that do proceed will go through a technical review committee, if needed, to understand everything that is required to install the project. That committee will determine whether or not the project is feasible from both technical and cost perspectives. If the project is not feasible owing to technical, budgetary, or logistical issues, your organization will be notified.   

Requests that make it through the feasibility assessment will be reviewed, scored, and ranked with awards being made based on available funding.

There are six main evaluation criteria for the Neighborhood Partnering Cost Share Proposals:

  • Community Participation (20 points) – Points are awarded based upon the active participation of the responsible entity in the project. 
  • Cost Share Proposal (20 points) – Points are awarded to projects that assume a greater percentage of the project cost.
  • Quality of Life Enhancement (20 points) - Points are awarded to projects based upon the degree that they contribute to physical environment improvement, neighborhood quality of life and neighborhood identity.
  • Incorporates or Meets City Initiatives (20 points) -Points are awarded for projects that address an existing but under-funded requirement, implement adopted neighborhood plans or incorporate City sustainability initiatives.
  • Geographic Equity (15 points) - Additional points will be awarded to neighborhoods from underrepresented areas based upon previous NPP project awards.
  • Reconsidering Qualifying Applications (5 points)- Qualifying applications that have been previously presented but were unfunded, are eligible for 10 extra points when funding is available at staff discretion.

Pedestrian Program

New sidewalks are funded both by private development and through City of Austin Capital Improvement Program (CIP) projects. When a new private development project is constructed, the developer is required to provide sidewalks. This requirement also applies to most redevelopment projects. City CIP projects that involve full street reconstruction also generally include pedestrian & sidewalk improvements.

In addition the City CIP program, there are also standalone Sidewalk construction and rehabilitation projects. These projects are typically funded through voter-approved bonds, but also receive funding from state and federal grants and from the City of Austin sidewalk fee-in-lieu program.

The City of Austin Sidewalk Master Plan has a prioritization matrix for new sidewalk projects that includes the following factors:

  • How far are the nearby schools, major employers, transit stops, government offices, public accommodations and public housing?
  • How many people live in the area?
  • Are there already existing sidewalks in the area?
  • How busy is the street?
  • Has a request been made? (Has the request been made by the ADA task force, as part of an Adopted Neighborhood Plan, or by a neighborhood resident?)
  • Have there been reported pedestrian safety concerns?

Using this decision matrix, the Pedestrian Program’s limited budget is used to achieve maximum benefits.

Submit your reqest by calling Austin 3-1-1 or entering it online here. Please provide the location and extent of the requested improvements. If you provide your contact information, City of Austin staff will follow up and provide feedback about funding availability.

Not currently, but the City is working to include sidewalk projects as part of the new CIVIC website which provides a map-based display of City of Austin Capital Improvement Projects.

Click here for the approved Sidewalk Master Plan (pdf).  For additional resources and information about City of Austin sidewalks, visit our Pedestrian Program page.

Street and Bridge

The City of Austin uses a Pavement Management Information System (PMIS) to track pavement inventory and performance to coordinate, plan, and forecast pavement needs. The PMIS ensures that the sealcoat method is the most cost effective program for long-term pavement maintenance. The decision to maintain a specific street is primarily based on its age and condition.

Read more about street preventative maintenance and the sealcoat process.
 

  • Minor concrete repair and construction
  • Street preventative maintenance
  • Right-of-way maintenance
  • Bridge maintenance
  • Street repairs
  • Tree pruning and trimming

Please call 3-1-1 to find out when a particular street is due for preventative maintenance. To hear which streets are scheduled for the following day, please call the Street Resurfacing Hotline at 974-7878.

Just call 3-1-1 (512-974-2000 outside of Austin) or visit 311's customer service page to make your request.