Is Getting There Getting Better?

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 11.55.03 AMThere are literally hundreds of special events in Austin every year and at least one major event every month. What you may not know is that the City has a very sophisticated process for helping events with planning, getting required permits, and even communicating the right information to residents, visitors, adjacent businesses, and other events organizers. The “one-stop” portal for all of this information is City Stage.

From here event planners can connect with the various departments working together as a special events team. Businesses can figure out how to deal with events and road closures near them as well as how to join in as a vendor. Residents can get key information on code enforcement as well as upcoming events. And visitors can find information they need to enjoy the special events safely. What’s missing?

One of the biggest complaints we hear about is transportation-related: “I didn’t know there would be a street closure here” or “there is so much traffic getting there or getting past there” are the two biggest. Fortunately, the site also has a Getting Around tab. It tells you about upcoming street closures. It tells you about available parking (a handy map or app might be better, but wayfinding is coming). It even tells you about options.

City Stage’s website is probably the easiest of the major event websites (including ACL Festival and SXSW) to navigate when it comes to finding transportation information. However, SXSW is very clear that the festival is “easily accessible by foot, shuttle or bicycle.” And ACL announces “there is NO parking at the Festival site” and “parking is strongly discouraged in surrounding neighborhoods,” along with a map of parking a mile or more away and clear options.Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 11.55.14 AM

City Stage, on the other hand, simply provides information with no clear guidance or even a hint of where to park, that parking might be hard to get or far away, and it certainly doesn’t suggest that there are better alternatives than driving.

We have a phenomenal portion of people getting to and around SXSW and ACL events by walking or using Austin’s many travel options. So it is just a bit surprising that we don’t see the City more actively asking events to provide more than a traffic control plan. Maybe an alternative transportation plan that gets more people to the event with fewer cars would be more helpful, because simply requiring a “traffic control” plan doesn’t seem to be making anyone happy.

What do you think?


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