E-scooters Return To Portland Streets, With New Rules

  • Jeff Sabatini has written for many publications over his 20 years in automotive journalism, including Car and Driver, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Sports Car Market magazine. His lifetime car churn includes 30 vehicles: eight GM cars, five Ford products, four Toyotas, three BMWs, two Jeeps, two Chrysler minivans, a Miata, a Mercedes, a Porsche, a Saab, a Subaru, and a Volkswagen.

can be reached at jeffsab@gmail.com
  • Jeff Sabatini has written for many publications over his 20 years in automotive journalism, including Car and Driver, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Sports Car Market magazine. His lifetime car churn includes 30 vehicles: eight GM cars, five Ford products, four Toyotas, three BMWs, two Jeeps, two Chrysler minivans, a Miata, a Mercedes, a Porsche, a Saab, a Subaru, and a Volkswagen.

can be reached at jeffsab@gmail.com
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After a nearly six-month absence, rideshare electric scooters once again dot the streets of Portland, Oregon. The Portland Bureau of Transportation launched its second e-scooter pilot program on Friday, April 26, bringing back the popular–and controversial–scooters, but with new rules and regulations.

Three companies initially received permits: Bolt, Lime and Spin begin service immediately. The city said another four—Clevr Mobility, Jump, Razor USA, and Shared Technologies Inc.—are in the final stages of the permitting process. Portlanders can go ahead and delete the Skip and Bird apps from their phones. Both had been a part of Portland’s 2018 pilot, along with Lime.

 

Lime scooters return to Portland for a year-long pilot program, the city's second. (Lime)
Lime scooters return to Portland for a year-long pilot program, the city’s second.

 

“Our streets are a valuable public asset – if private industry wants access to our streets, they have to demonstrate alignment with our values and priorities, pay a reasonable fee for the privilege, and deliver social benefit. This second scooter pilot will allow us to gather more data, increase equity and accessibility, and make the most of this ‘last mile’ technology in Portland,” said Portland Bureau of Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in a statement.

Portland’s New E-scooter Plan

  • Company Incentives: Portland has initially capped the total number of scooters at 2,500. Fleets may be expanded to as many as 9,000, but only if companies meet the city’s objectives. This includes increasing ridership outside of downtown and eliminating sidewalk riding and improper parking.
  • Crackdown On Rule Breakers: Scooter companies will be required to issue warnings, fines, and even account suspensions to users who ride on sidewalks or illegally park the scooters.
  • More Parking: Dedicated parking areas for scooters are being created.
  • Waterfront Park Ban: Geo-fencing technology will keep scooters from being left in Portland’s big downtown park on the Willamette River. Other city parks are also off-limits to e-scooters.
  • New Fees: The Portland Bureau of Transportation will be charging a 25-cent fee to users and a 5- to 20-cent fee to scooter companies to help fund infrastructure to better accommodate scooters.
  • Map: A comprehensive map of the areas scooters are not allowed, and suggestions for the safest places to ride, is now online at http://map.escooterpdx.com.

Lessons Learned

In 2018, Portland created its first e-scooter pilot to head off companies deploying scooters without permission, as happened in other cities. That trial ran for 120 days during the summer and fall months. It required participating companies to share data with the city. This data was then compiled into a comprehensive report released in January, 2019. Rideshare scooters were banned from city streets over the winter. According to the report, e-scooter riders in Portland took 700,369 trips covering 801,887 miles in 2018.

“Our first e-scooter pilot demonstrated two things: scooters have the potential to be a fun and useful transportation option for Portlanders, and we need to address significant safety and equity concerns.” said Eudaly.

Despite those concerns, most Portlanders say they are in favor of the scooters. In a poll conducted for the city, 62 percent viewed the scooters positively. Good then that the new pilot lasts for an entire year. It wraps up on April 26, 2020.

“With the launch of the second pilot, we have a great opportunity. Not only will Portlanders again have access to this technology, but we have the chance to learn more about scooters and whether they contribute to a safer, more sustainable and more equitable Portland,” said Chris Warner, PBOT’s Interim Director.


About the Author

  • Jeff Sabatini has written for many publications over his 20 years in automotive journalism, including Car and Driver, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Sports Car Market magazine. His lifetime car churn includes 30 vehicles: eight GM cars, five Ford products, four Toyotas, three BMWs, two Jeeps, two Chrysler minivans, a Miata, a Mercedes, a Porsche, a Saab, a Subaru, and a Volkswagen.

can be reached at jeffsab@gmail.com
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