APD launches new traffic initiative for SXSW - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

APD launches new traffic initiative for SXSW

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Everyone's trying to get somewhere, but, some people are more zealous than others.

"We live about 20 minutes away regularly, it was like an hour and a half just to get here and get parking," said SXSW performer, Michael Sanchez.

Sanchez almost didn't make it to his SXSW performance.

"It was detours, groups of people walking when they weren't supposed to, on top of police trying to traffic everything, it was crazy," Sanchez added.

"It blocks the traffic flow," said Austin Police Commander Tim Pruett.

He's part of a new traffic initiative downtown, put into place especially for SXSW.

Pruett said, "When the officers are here they seem to obey the traffic signals for the pedestrians a lot more, than when we're not here."

Additional officers are being placed in busy intersections and in front of parking garages to keep people safe and remedy the traffic.

"It's mainly the frontage roads, from 11th Street down to Cesar Chavez, on the east end and west frontage," added Pruett.

Statistics show over the last 5 years Austin has had nearly 1,800 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes.

To date, 20% of all traffic fatalities have involved pedestrians.

Pruett said, "In the past we may have not had people here or waited until the point where we needed to be here, but we're trying to be proactive."

The point is not to write tickets, but if you block an intersection, you might get into trouble.

"It is a violation, a Class C misdemeanor, so they could write them a ticket," said Pruett.

It will be up to the judge to determine how much money you have to pay.

Pruett added, "Traffic's flowing well and most of the people are complying with us."

By improving the flow of traffic, officers hope to keep everyone safer downtown during SXSW.

A separate safety initiative is also happening in south Austin. It's focusing on reducing the number of traffic crashes involving pedestrians. This safety initiative lasts throughout the month of March.

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