Parking woes, scammers, thievery and lost friends are all issues that can ruin a South by Southwest experience. The Austin Police Department, AAA Texas and Better Business Bureau of Central Texas are all offering tips on how to best avoid those pitfalls.
APD Commander Bill Manno says anytime there is a big event, parking can be a challenge. He said parking close to the festival has been labeled "event-parking" only—violators will be towed. He also said the Guadalupe neighborhood, which is the area between I-35 and the State Cemetery, will be closed to public parking this year.
“Typically what happens is so many cars park on those narrow residential streets that not only do the residents have a hard time coming and going, but ambulances and fire trucks have a very difficult time getting in there," Manno said. "So it’s not just a quality of life issue, it’s a public safety issue.”
Manno said if attendees get towed from a public street, they should call (512) 441-7094. He also warned festival-goers to be wary of fake parking attendants.
Austin Police also recommended using the "buddy system", bringing a map of downtown and picking a rally point to meet up at.
"Cell phones are going to be very unreliable," Manno said. "When you get that many people in one place, cell phones might just quit working."
AAA Texas' Doug Shupe reminds drivers and pedestrians to use common sense.
"Preventing crashes and keeping our roads safe is everyone's responsibility. That means it is going to take bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists to be watching out for each other," Shupe said.
Shupe said pedestrians should only use designated crosswalks and never assume other cars are aware of them. He said drivers should not text and drive, and bicyclists should be aware of their surroundings.
Meanwhile, the BBB of Central Texas put out a list of tips for SXSW attendees to help them avoid buying fraudulent tickets or wristbands:
- Do your research. Know the going rate for the badge or wristband you’re after, and avoid offers that are deeply discounted or highly inflated. You should buy badges and wristbands directly from sxsw.com.
- Avoid wiring money. Be wary when using wire services for payment, because once you pay your money transfers instantly. The recipient is untraceable and you won’t be able to get your money back. Also, avoid having your tickets mailed. Arrange to pick them up in a public place in person.
- Verify its authenticity. BBB recommends you verify the legitimacy of the badges and wristbands before you pay. Ask for a receipt. Look at the badge or wristband and compare it to a verified one. If something looks different, or if a seller claims they don’t actually have the badge in hand, walk away.
The BBB also has tips for keeping smart phones safe:
- Lock your phone. Add a security code to your phone to prevent thieves from accessing your data. Then set your device to lock automatically when not in use for a specified time.
- Avoid unsecured Wi-Fi. If you choose to connect to an unsecured or public Wi-Fi network, do not enter passwords or access any personal information.
- Beware of unknown apps and links. During SXSW, businesses might promote their apps for you to download. BBB advises you avoid downloading apps without first researching the source. They may contain viruses, malware or spyware that can compromise your personal data.
The bottom line: you'll enjoy the festival a lot more if you just follow the rules and use your head.