By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
The Steiner Ranch HOA has been issuing warnings and citations for the use of electric bikes, motorcycles, scooters, dirt bikes and golf carts that are in violation of the community rules and laws of Travis County. But that did not deter an accident from happening earlier this month.
Moments before an accident on October 7, residents shared that they saw boys riding motorized vehicles called e-bikes through the Laura W. Bush Elementary playground and on the sidewalks behind the school, adjacent to Towne Square Community Center.
Then the middle school aged boys collided resulting in injuries, according to multiple sources.
“We responded to 12600 Country Trails Ln at 4:01 pm on October 7. The nature of the call is Accidental Injury. The incident involves minors,” shared Kristen Dark, senior public information officer at TCSO.
One local resident reported that she saw three fire engines, three EMTs and two helicopters come into Steiner that Saturday afternoon.
By around 4:30 p.m. an ambulance had left the community and one report shared: “Two boys were airlifted out of Town Square Park after crashing into each other on electric bikes.”
The boys were reportedly wearing helmets. As of October 19, the boys injured in the accident were doing okay, according to sources: One was reported to have some head trauma, another had had surgery around his eye from where his helmet hit, and a third broke his femur.
Community leaders shared little about the accident.
“Motorbike Incident Statement” was agenda item 7d at the October 17 SRMA Board meeting.
Jeff Libersat, the SRMA counsel, was present at the meeting and advised the SRMA board that “there’s no reason to make a statement just because it happened on the (association) property. It is not a fault of the association. People are welcome to make personal statements.”
During that meeting, the SRMA Board approved a Sheriff’s patrol for $2,800 to do more traffic control around the LWBE and Canyon Ridge Middle School. The Sheriff will also “enforce any motorized vehicle policy,” shared Amy Yukich, SRMA president.
The new TCSO patrol is tentatively scheduled to start Nov. 6.
During the homeowner forum several residents shared feedback on the motorized vehicle policy. One resident shared he did not feel like there was any change since the policy went into effect.
“I’m not seeing any difference with motorized vehicle enforcement,” one homeowner shared. “Our stuff keeps getting destroyed and landscaping (too).”
But SRMA has been issuing fines and warnings.
“We have indeed given both verbal warnings as well as citations (fines) to about 12 residents,” shared Zachary Dulevitz, the association executive director. “There is another case that has been given to Travis County since the policy went into effect on July 24 after filing with the county.”
The Steiner Ranch Motorized Vehicle Policy went into effect on July 24 and includes a steeper $500 fine per incident for violators.
“It is the board’s intention to protect all of our residents, including these children. The reckless behavior – jumping off of hills, brake-checking cars, violating traffic laws, full throttle speeding, popping wheelies on roads – especially on the roads, at the parks, and on the trails must stop immediately,” said Rachel McGilvray, SRMA secretary and district 2 director shared at the July 18 SRMA Board meeting. “It is not legal to ride them in the neighborhood.”
At the June meeting, the SRMA board and community members heard from Lt. Jason Jewert, Sgt. Don Rios and Sgt. Nate Matteson. These members of the Travis County Sheriff’s Office talked about the laws and rules in place.
“Any vehicle capable of going 28 mph or more must be driven on a street and must follow Texas laws. Only fully licensed drivers on registered vehicles are allowed on public roads,” according to TCSO.
“Since dirt bikes cannot be registered in Texas, they are not legal on the roads, nor are they legal on sidewalks. Do not drive dirt bikes, motorcycles, or throttle powered electric bikes on the sidewalks,” the Sheriff’s Office warned at the July meeting.
here have also been issues with trespassing in Steiner. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trails or HOA property including parks, grass, fields, sidewalks, basketball courts, and tennis courts. Using motorized vehicles in these areas is trespassing and is punishable by law including tickets and fines, according to SRMA board members.
Currently the association is looking into repairing damages from motorized vehicles on the exterior basketball courts at Towne Square Community Center, Yukich said.
Travis County Sheriff’s Office advises people to follow the law when it comes to operating motorized vehicles including golf carts and motorized bicycles.
“It can be tempting to allow unlicensed drivers and children to operate these vehicles on public roadways and sidewalks,” Dark said. “That is not only extremely dangerous, it’s unlawful and the consequences could be deadly.”