Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

SXSW Eco: Drive an Electric Car for Free, But Your Bike Could be Impounded

Photo by Mose Buchele

Warning were attached to bikes locked up outside SXSW Eco today, saying the bikes could be impounded.

South By Southwest Eco is Austin’s premiere sustainability conference, so it’s probably no surprise that you’ll find a lot of bike riders there. The conference even has a folding bike rental option.

But this morning there were so many cyclists parking at the entrance to the AT&T Conference Center, where the event is held, that every nearby signpost appeared to be taken. (There are no bike racks at the Center, or even within a few blocks, according to University of Texas’ bike rack map.)

So, with nothing apparent to indicate they shouldn’t, cyclists (this reporter included) started locking up on the railings leading to the entrance.

Imagine the surprise when they returned from panels like “What’s Good for Your Health is Good for the Planet,” and “Legal and Policy Issues for Social and Eco-Entrepreneurs” to find a warning attached to each bicycle from UT Transportation: just a friendly reminder that bicycles left in unauthorized places can be impounded and their riders issued citations.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the bikes were interfering with traffic, though there was a Chevy Volt test drive expo taking place near the unauthorized bikes.

We’ve put in an email to SXSW Eco to let them know that bicyclists might be breaking the rules, and to find out where bike parking is available at the conference, as that information isn’t available on the conference website. We’ll update when we hear back.


We heard back from Elizabeth Derczo, a media liaison at SXSW Eco. Not surprisingly, they didn’t know about UT’s policy of threatening to impound bikes.

“Apparently, there is bike parking in a couple of places in the parking garage,” Derczo helpfully pointed out.

“We would definitely entertain the idea of arranging more temporary bike parking next year,” she said.

Disclosure: KUT Austin, the lead station of StateImpact Texas, is a sponsor of the SXSW Eco conference.


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