04 Feb 2020


Street Justice: Huge Traffic Ticket Discounts and Theft-Inducing Car-Sharing Apps

Gordon Chaffin is a freelance journalist who focuses on infrastructure and traffic news and insights for Street Justice. You can support independent journalism by subscribing to Gordon’s newsletter. He’s offering a 20% discount to THIH readers.  –Maria Helena Carey

Tall plastic bollards mark the walkway through parking garages from arrivals pick-up at the Austin Airport, to the tax and ride-hailing pick-up location. (Photo by Gordon Chaffin)

How Austin’s Airport Organizes Ride-Hailing PUDO

I’m in Austin, Texas this weekend speaking and doing reporting at the Fully Charged Live USA conference about electric vehicles, alternative energy, and sustainable infrastructure. To leave the Austin airport and get to my hotel via taxi, I had to follow a new and/or temporary pathway through parking garages. The Austin Aiport moved the taxi stand and designated Uber/Lyft/Via pick-up spot to the inside of a parking garage.

From the arrivals curbside for private vehicles, you’re directed with moderately confusing signage along a circuitous route. It seems AUS got rid of a parking row in one garage to create a temporary pedestrian walkway pictured above — with very tall plastic bollards. These delineator posts aren’t what you’re used to seeing in the DC-area. They’re maybe 5-feet tall and sit on metal stands allowing the bollards to bend and recoil after you hit them. So, not good at protecting pedestrians from car impacts, but the high-visibility orange color is nice. Arriving passengers walk the length of a whole parking garage, then cross a dark alley and up some stairs into a second garage, where the taxi stand and ride-hail stands are.

This pathway is clearly new and possibly temporary. Airports around the US have been reconfiguring their departure and arrival curbside layouts for massively increased traffic from UberLyftVia. Airports with minimal curb space like DCA force ride requests to be taken via a lot in Crystal City. Some airports, like Phoenix’s Sky Harbor, are trying to charge a fee to each ride-hail trip — which accounts for the externality of increased traffic and brings UberLyftVia prices closer to parity with taxi companies that have dealt with airport pickup fees for longer.

DC to Offer 57% Discount on Traffic Tickets Issued from Photos

On Friday, DC’s Department of Public Works (DPW) announced a change in rules for enforcing traffic violations. The agency wrote that beginning February 28th this year, DPW enforcement officers “will issue $65 tickets to any motorist the agency photographs improperly parking, stopping, or leaving a bike lane.” Despite its press release full of references to commitment for reducing traffic deaths to zero, DPW has chosen to give violators an $85 discount from the regular fines.

The agency will mail $65 tickets for STOPING, STANDING, or PARKING in a bike lane — or doing those things in a crosswalk — instead of the tougher, already on the books, penalty of $150. In January 2019, DC’s Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Motor Vehicles (DMV) changed the fines for those violations to $150. Street Justice reached out to DPW via phone and email with multiple questions about this new policy. Specifically, was the $65 fee an intentional discount or an oversight? he agency’s Public Information Officer returned our call and said they were trying to get answers, but did not provide them by publication time.

[Full Story]

Getaround Car-Sharing App May Put Users at Risk for Theft

On Monday 1/27, DC Police Sgt. Matthew Grabwoski told ANC 4B (Takoma/Brightwood Park) that several Getaround customers have had their cars stolen. The car-sharing app sets up short-term car rentals by matching users — a car owner offering their vehicle for rental and a user looking to use a car.

Sargeant Grabowski said the Police believe assailants are using the map of available cars to find easy targets. Once a user downloads the app and completes a short security check, they have access to a map of cars available for immediate rental. According to MPD, those offenders will break into the car, unlock it, and drive it away using the keys left inside for Getaround users.

Getaround offers some security measures to users renting out their cars, including location tracking and ignition deactivation, but that device can be defeated after watching a few YouTube videos and bringing a few tools to your carjacking.

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Changes to CoHi’s Most Congested Block + MBT Going Back on the Street In Manor Park

In 2019, DDOT redoubled their efforts to communicate with communities affected by ongoing and planning projects by starting a tour of Ward-based Open Houses. n general, these walk around and talk to project officials near posterboards approach lowers the temperature of discussion and enables more constructive conversations between residents and government staff. 

In November and December, DDOT held open houses in Wards 1 and 4 respectively. Notable tidbits I learned from covering these events:

  • DDOT intends to take both sides of the curb on 14th Street NW between Irving and Kenyon Streets NW to install a Pick-Up/Drop-Off zone.
  • DDOT Vision Zero staffer Emily Dalphy said they’re exploring the deployment of abrupt stop sign road humps like the ones on Seargent Road NE’s intersection with Emerson Street.
  • Met Branch Trail’s connection between Fort Totten and Takoma will involve another on-street section similar to 8th Street NE in Edgewood.

[Full Story]

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