In an effort to improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, the city of Austin has a new initiative called Don’t Block the Box. Texas state law stipulates that “you should wait to enter an intersection until you are sure you can make it all the way through,” but this law was not really enforced here. In March, signs were installed at four key intersections on Cesar Chavez, and the public was warned. Now tickets are being issued. This initiative will be expanded to other gridlock-prone intersections in the near future.
Police officers have been monitoring the Lavaca/Guadalupe intersections during the morning and evening rush hours. I’ve counted as many as eight officers on foot, bicycles, and motorcycles, flagging down and chasing offenders. Last week, as Bill and I were trying to navigate across an intersection, the two cars that blocked the crosswalk were both pulled over and ticketed. I suspect it’s not a coincidence that enforcement began in front of Austin City Hall, but I do agree that this initiative will help with traffic flow and pedestrian safety.
The Austin Police Department announced that over 800 tickets were issued in the first two weeks of April. Fines start at $169. Not surprisingly, Austinites had some suggestions on what to do with the extra revenue being generated by these tickets:
- “Purchase body cameras for Austin police”
- “Build another boardwalk”
- “Buy drones and jetpacks for everyone to avoid I-35 and Mopac”
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