Wish had an article after his latest Chicago Marathon race this year where he discussed how Chicago as a city get’s behind the marathon and that the way it’s done is something the city of Austin and it’s leadership should look at. I have to agree with him and I’m glad he brought up the topic of races in Austin which has been dormant since the City Council passed the new events ordinance. During the course of the Task Force and city council meetings I had a few blog posts, multiple e-mails and also we had the keepaustinrunning site up with updates.
One of the things that I still don’t understand is why the office of safety in Austin has standards in place that no other city seems to think are necessary. The number of cones, their spacing, their height … triple barricades instead of single, amount of use of officers … we’re way overboard compared to what other cities do and that has a number of negative consequences:
- It costs more. Yes, go figure having a cone, that is bigger at more frequent intervals makes it more expensive. Having a policeman and a barricade makes it more expensive than just having one of those.
- Roads are closed longer. It takes longer to put bigger barricades out, it takes longer to put more cones out … it also takes longer to take them off. This means the rules we have (which other cities seem to do without very well) are part of the reasons people get annoyed by races.
Since last December I’ve run two marathons. The California International Marathon and the Portland Marathon. Two different states and two different cities, and both of them had no trouble closing fully or partially large roads, in Portland a lane was closed on what was pretty much a highway and the number of cones there per 100 feet was less than we have on a city road in Austin. I was safe with an 18 wheeler there but am not with a Prius here … it’s just unnecessary but we have an office in the city that get’s to make the rules as it sees fit without any citizen oversight. I’m looking forward to some of the City Council taking up the health initiatives the city is promoting and going out of Austin and running a half marathon or marathon. Maybe then they’ll see what Austin can do to make marathons a great experience for the runners, for the residents of Austin be reducing the inconvenience and a more effective fund raising effort by reducing the unnecessary costs some city staff are imposing.