Traffic in Austin

September 30th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

Austin is growing too fast for our roads to handle. Have you noticed traffic lately? Rush hour starts earlier and last forever it seems like. The city itself is working on improving roads and smoothing traffic across I-35, Mopac, and 183, but while they work on these changes, sometimes it only makes traffic worse. So what is being done to alleviate this unwanted stress?

The U.S. Department of Transportation – Beyond Traffic

Austin will see up to 70 million people come into our city over the next few years, and that is an insane amount of growth! It can be expected due to the amount of jobs and opportunities this city offers, but in order to compensate for this massive crowd, the U.S. Department of Transportation is taking a stand. The first of 11 hearings involving fast-growing cities and their traffic will kick off today, and Austin will be well-represented. The backups downtown along with the rush-hour traffic seen every day on the highway are just a few of the issues that will be addressed at the meeting. This is only the beginning of the DOT’s Beyond Traffic plan, a 30-Year Framework that is aimed at improving road conditions across the country. For more information, visit the DOT website.

MLK & I-35

One of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in our city is the crossover between Martin Luther King Blvd and the south I-35 service road. Over 79 people have died at this intersection in just this year alone, which has prompted the city council to invest over $300,000 improving the traffic and the safety of this intersection for drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike. New lanes will be added to alleviate the heavy traffic flow and reduce the number of collisions happening at this intersection, and the City of Austin intends to take care of some crosswalk and curb work on the east-to-south right turn. This will protect both drivers and pedestrians, and increase safety for the students walking and working nearby. The contract begins October 1st, so expect to see a few changes and a little more traffic until the improvements are made.

Car2Go
car2go
In order to improve traffic downtown, Austin has renewed its contract with Car2Go in order to give more Austinites access to easy and affordable transportation without having to worry about parking, insurance, or even owning their own car. But the changes made to this contract shrunk Car2Go’s service area to focus primarily on downtown, with key access areas on Cesar Chavez, Pleasant Valley, and Lamar. The cars are still able to travel as far north as Steck and Anderson Ln and as far south as Stassney, but these far distances are for return trips only. Unlike the urban Car2Go in the city, drivers will not be able to leave the car for another driver outside of 51st street, which will make it difficult for commuters living up north.

Where you live in the city will definitely affect your perception of traffic and your ability to access public transportation and awesome services like Car2Go. If you have any thoughts about traffic, comment below or share your news with us on Facebook.

How to Drive in Austin’s Crazy Storms

April 19th, 2015, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Never expect predictability when it comes to weather here in Austin. Last night’s thunderstorm was just a typical spring evening. The hail and rain knocked out trees, power lines, and caused a few interruptions to Reggae Fest. Were you out and about in the storm yesterday? Did you have the unfortunate luck of driving in your car when it hit? We all know the proper safety procedures when it comes to lightening and hailstorms – take cover, avoid tress and metal lampposts, stay dry, but what happens when you’re trying to drive yourself home and the hail is pounding your windshield? You can always pull over and wait for the worst of it to pass, but there isn’t always time for that. Austin is poppin’ and you will have places to be and be seen regardless of the crazy weather. These tips for driving in the rain – even in these crazy Texas storms – will keep you and your passengers safe and guarantee that you’ll arrive to the show, even if you are a few minutes late.

1. Take Your Time
When they’re wet, it’s going to take longer for your tires and your brakes to adjust to the weather. In order to avoid rear end collisions and hydroplaning, slow it down and take your time.

2. Stay in the Middle Lane
When possible, move into the middle lane or at least the lane farthest from the sidewalk. Water will pool and puddle in the outside lanes, closest to curbs and sewer drains. Standing water like this increases the risk of hydroplaning and flooding your car, depending on the depth, so your best bet is to avoid it completely if you can.

3. Maintain Proper Following Distance
This is a Driver’s Ed basic, but in the rain you run the risk of ruining your visibility if you follow too closely, especially behind Texas’ infamous big trucks. They’re going to kick up a lot of water and rain into your windshield, which is only more dangerous for you. Slow it down until your 3-5 seconds behind the car or truck in front of you.

4. Avoid Using Your Brakes
It may seem counter-intuitive, but slamming on your brakes in the rain is only going to lead to spin outs and hydroplaning. Keeping a safe following distance will decrease your need for braking, and if you do have to slow down, simply take your foot off the gas and let your car coast to a safer speed.

5. Basic Vehicular Maintenance
Stay on top of your tires and your windshield wipers. This means regular maintenance checks, oil changes, and tire rotations, either done by yourself or a mechanic. This regular maintenance will keep your vehicle in shape and prepared for whatever crazy weather phenomenon Texas decides to throw our way this spring.

Of course, if you can avoid driving in a storm like last night’s, there’s no reason for you to be out in it. But we can’t always be in the safest, driest, or even most logical place in this city, especially on a Saturday night, so follow these tips to keep yourself safe when driving in the rain.

(Thanks, Yue Zhang, for the great photo!)

Happy Holidays from Austin Housemates!

December 7th, 2014, Posted By Austin Housemates

zilker-christmas-tree

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, we still have two huge days approaching. Celebrating Christmas and ringing in the New Year are always better spent with a crowd of our favorite people, or at least those few special someones that you only see once or twice a year. But while friends, family, and feasts are on the agenda in the coming months, don’t let accommodating all these guests in a shared living space put a damper on holiday plans. Here are a few ways you can entertain your guests in Austin during their holiday visit.

When it comes to the holidays, we’re lucky to live in Texas. Our winters are fairly temperate, meaning you can explore the city, the night life, and some of our historical landmarks here in Austin without bundling up and fighting the cold and snow. Take advantage of the warmth and avoid overcrowding in your living space by taking your guests out and about. If the weather is going to be particularly nasty, choose a venue with both indoor and outdoor accommodations – because you know the weather often changes its mind halfway through the day! And because there are a slew of events going on this holiday season, finding one to entertain everyone in your group won’t be too hard.

This Christmas, Zilker Park will be hosting its annual Trail of Lights, a mile-long walk through the park complete with hot cocoa. But if you’re looking for something a little more off the grid, check out the light show on 37th Street. These quirky and outrageous neighbors design their own light décor, making for interesting and festive displays. For the New Year, Austin’s annual New Year celebration ANY is in Barton Park on New Year’s Eve with live music, famous food trucks, and local vendors and artists selling their wares. It’s a must-see for visitors to get a showcase of local food, art, and music. And since the festivities end at 10pm, you’ll have your pick of parties downtown.

Accommodating visiting guests over the holidays should not be stressful, whether you live alone or with roommates. If you share your living space, don’t hesitate to let your holiday plans be known. If you are inviting friends and family over for dinner or to stay with you for a few days, discussing this with your roommates is very important. They live there too, and if the shared space is going to be utilized by your guests, communicating with one another can help you avoid any holiday drama. Inviting them along is a nice, friendly gesture, but just simply giving people a heads up can work wonders. They can help you cook, clean, and they may even have furniture you can borrow for that big dinner party.

Enjoy Your Summer in Austin

May 23rd, 2014, Posted By Austin Housemates

Thursday Night Social Ride, Austin, Texas

Whether you’ve lived here for years or if you’ve just landed at Austin-Bergstrom, you’ve realized one thing: Austin is HOT. Now, the weather lately has been bearable – with a decent amount of rain and a nice breeze, but when we break into that peak summer season you may find yourself melting on 6th street. For those not familiar with a humid summer, Texas heat may come as a surprise. It’s thick, it’s heavy, and it’s sweltering. People will try and tell you that you’ll get used to it, but that isn’t going to happen overnight. There are ways to prepare and avoid the Texas heat without fighting for a spot at the pool or running up your electric bill.

The best way to enjoy your Texas Summer is to take advantage of the Austin night life. Austin takes care of its residents by offering up tons of outdoor festivities during the coolest hours of the day. Not only are the drink specials always better after the sun goes down, but live performances and outdoor movie theaters can completely turn around a hot and boring summer day. The Metz Recreation Center has weekly movie showings throughout the summer, making it a perfect stop for families. Zilker Park offers up Oklahoma! as this year’s Summer Musical in the Park, starting July 11th. And it’s right next to Barton Springs! The icy cool natural spring on the Greenbelt that is oh-so-refreshing in the middle of July. Only in Austin can you spend the whole day swimming in the springs followed by a musical performance right across the street.

The city also boasts its fair share of public parks which, once sunset starts, are great places to enjoy the summer. Whether you’re planning a dinner picnic, taking an evening jog, or taking the dog out for some quality outdoor adventures, Austin’s parks are definitely the place to be (and they’re free!). If you’re a cyclist, these parks are popular pit stops for the numerous social cycling groups around the city. These are large groups of leisure bike riders who hit the trails or head downtown once a week or so. Many of the rides happen in the early morning or early evening when the weather is just right. If you’re new to the city, this is a great way to meet locals and learn your way around. One of the most active cycling groups meets at Festival Beach in Edward Rendon Park every Thursday at 730pm, so if you have a bike check them out!

If it’s you’re first summer with us here in Austin, keep an eye on the do512 website (www.do512.com) as they consistently post all upcoming summer events. You can fill up your calendar with fun activities or relaxing evenings instead of wasting away in front of your AC unit. If you have any ideas or know of any summer events happening throughout July and August, hit us up on Facebook and let us know!

New Occupancy Limits for the City of Austin

April 26th, 2014, Posted By Austin Housemates

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Austin is the fastest growing city in Texas – in the country! – and with the expanding UT campus, the effervescent artistic culture, and the budding film industry, it can only hope to get bigger. As the city aims to accommodate all of its newcomers, the Austin City Council voted against the trend of “stealth dorms” that have been developing throughout the city.

So what does this ruling mean for all the newcomers?

It means that roommate housing just got a little more difficult in Austin. Single-family homes in residential neighborhoods in specific zip codes have been reduced from a 6-roommate capacity to a 4-roommate capacity. “Stealth dorms” is a term used to describe single-family homes occupied by non-related roommates, usually students, young professionals, and newcomers to the city looking for affordable living situations.

The new ruling does not apply to apartments, condominiums, or those buildings not in residential neighborhoods. In fact, existing dorm-style homes with 6 or fewer roommates do not have to change. It is simply a new city ordinance that aims to curb illegal and precarious homes and insure each resident of Austin – both new and native – has the opportunity to live in comfortable, affordable, and safe housing.

None of the Austin Housemates’ houses or roommates are affected by this code change. We are still looking for the opportunity to grow our business by purchasing and managing more houses.

Austin is still the brightest city in Texas, and if you’re looking to seize a chance to get in on the action and its growth, now is the time to move! Just keep the new city ordinances in mind as you seek housing.