A website is now live that Austin officials say makes it quick and easy to alert the city about streets that need to be safer.
City officials said they are particularly interested in what pedestrians have to say over the next couple of weeks.
Austinites can select their mode of travel (walking, bicycling, riding a motorcycle, driving a car, or using an assistive device such as a wheelchair), choose from a drop-down list of concerns, and add additional details. They will immediately see their dot appear on the map, among the others that people have placed.
With all the notes that people have already placed, the map can be a bit daunting, but it’s fairly user-friendly once you zoom in on the streets you’re interested in.
This map is for planning efforts only, city officials said. People should call 3-1-1 to identify pressing safety concerns that need immediate attention.
But this might make you feel a little bit better about Austin traffic: Last week, a Brazilian radio station posted a photo on Facebook of a traffic jam in São Paulo, and let’s just say it’s … pretty brutal.
OK, first of all, this looks like a literal nightmare. It looks like that Rush Hour game that your parents bought you to keep you entertained (in the car, of all places) where you had to get your little red car out of the traffic jam.
Second of all, how did this even happen? According to the translated version of the Facebook photo, a light was broken at the intersection after a storm that caused flooding and fallen trees in the area.
So, Austinites, just be thankful you weren’t stuck in this.
TxDOT says Houston’s road has 1.1 million annual hours of delay per mile which is not much more than Austin’s at 1.09 million. Just last year, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute’s 2015 report ranked I-35 in Austin as the No.1 most congested road in Texas.
Most of us can agree that traffic in Austin isn’t pretty. Granted, it’s not Houston, but still the commute home some days can be a bit harrowing. And it’s not like we’re the only two cities in Texas with a rough traffic situation.
That’s why Houston personal injury attorney Brian White decided to take a comprehensive look at the Texas Department of Transportation’s collision data ranging from 2012 to 2015 and determine what the most dangerous intersections in Texas are. White and his law firm only included intersections where 48 or more collisions occurred within the four years.
The very notion that she could harbor endearing feelings toward the highway, which everyone who’s ever been on it knows is more than unpleasant, led Hatmaker to write this lengthy but spot-on Facebook post about I-35 below.
On Thursday, Austin police arrested Patrick Eugene Johnson, 59, whom they say is responsible for more than 90 rock-throwing incidents along Interstate 35 since 2014. He is being charged with attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, though he may face additional charges, and is being held in Travis County Jail with bail set at $250,000.
Here are a few things to know about the suspect in the rock-throwing case:
1. In July 2013, Johnson was indicted on three counts of sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. According to the affidavit, the victim was 13 years old when he first met Johnson and “stated that a friend of his had introduced him to Johnson since Johnson was known to provide marijuana, beer, cigarettes.” Johnson had been out of jail on a $20,000 bond, but his case is still pending. Read more here.
2. Johnson was in the towing business for 40 years, according to his LinkedIn. He retired in 2004 due to medical issues and formed anti-towing activist organization Texas Towing Compliance in 2006. He has since acted as president of the organization. Texas Towing Compliance purports to document illegal towing practices and advise people how to fight their tows. He is well-known to the Austin Police Department and City Hall, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo noted in Thursday’s press conference. Johnson is a frequent speaker during citizen communications time at Austin City Council meetings, railing about certain tow-truck operators and alleging that police refuse to enforce city towing regulations.
3. Johnson has a YouTube channel featuring videos of his appearances before various government panels, including the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Other videos feature him driving around and exposing what he calls predatory towing practices, scams and “organized criminal activity.”
4. Also according to his LinkedIn, Johnson claims he won a Distinguished Service Award from APD, though no details are given. Though his page says he works closely with Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, his videos on YouTube mostly criticize the agency for failing to adequately regulate tow drivers.
5. He also has a Twitter account with the username @atxniceguy. Additionally, there is a @PATJ0HNS0N Twitter account that appears to be a parody account. It was created in December 2015. The person behind the account is unknown.
6. Johnson is public about his health problems on social media and has spoken about them on several other occasions. He opened his Feb. 27, 2014, appearance before the Austin City Council by saying “I was up here yesterday visiting y’all and I collapsed because of medical issues and they had to take me to the hospital by EMS out of City Hall.”
According to his Facebook account, Johnson said he was going to “live my remaining time in Hospice.” He also mentioned that an unnamed group “is taking control of my Texas Towing Compliance effective June 23, 2016.”
UPDATE: We asked, you answered. And the overwhelming consensus? Mayor Adler’s “Don’t Rush” Wednesday was kind of a bust. As the Twitter account that personifies the bumper-to-bumper beauty of MoPac, @EvilMoPacATX, pointed out this morning, there wasn’t a whole lot of rushing involved in most Austinites’ mornings.
Oh don't you worry @MayorAdler, nobody's rushing today.
To be fair, #AustinDontRush day isn’t quite over. The second rush hour of the day is still to come. Maybe commuters have found the perfect excuse to cut out of work a little early.
EARLIER: It’s here. Today is the day Mayor Steve Adler asked commuters to slow it down, sleep in, skip work or find an alternative means of transportation for what he calls, “Don’t Rush” Wednesday. Are you on board? In yesterday’s poll more than 50 percent of readers said they didn’t plan on changing their commute, but weren’t opposed to the idea, while 14 percent answered, “No, why should I change that?”
Did you plan on carpooling, taking the bus or working from home this rainy Wednesday morning? Or is it as much of a “rush” as any other day? Drop us a comment on Facebook or tweet us @statesman, and let us know what you did and why.