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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 25 March 2019

Responding to input from thousands of Portlanders, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) today announced new measures to improve public safety and protect City parks as part of a one-year pilot program that could have shared electric scooters (e-scooters) return to Portland streets by late April.

The Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program starts April 26 and lasts until April 26, 2020. It follows a 120-day pilot program in 2018 that showed e-scooters have the potential to help reduce congestion and pollution. But it also raised concerns about people riding e-scooter on sidewalks, in violation of state traffic laws, creating conflict with people walking and people with disabilities.

Following the one-year pilot program, PBOT will evaluate the program and engage the public to develop recommendations for permanent rules for shared e-scooter use for the City Council to consider.

“Thank you to the thousands of community members who shared their feedback during the first pilot, particularly Disability Rights Oregon. Illegal e-scooter use on sidewalks and irresponsible parking came through loud and clear as the most prevalent problems with the program,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “E-scooters are unquestionably fun to ride: the challenge of this second pilot will be to see if it’s possible to mitigate problems while demonstrating that e-scooters can benefit Portlanders left out of the economic mainstream and advance our city’s climate goals.”

"With good data, we can make good decisions," said Interim Transportation Director Chris Warner.

"Our comprehensive data requirements helped show that e-scooters eliminated thousands of car trips last year.

"In Portland, e-scooter companies will find a combination of penalties and potential incentives that will reward their efforts to create innovative solutions that reduce conflict between e-scooter users and people who walk or use mobility devices on our sidewalks."

Today, PBOT published an application form for companies that wish to provide shared e-scooter service in Portland. Applications are due April 9. PBOT anticipates notifying finalists April 18, followed by testing of equipment and technology that could result in e-scooters in operation by April 26.

The 2019 pilot program includes new rules intended to improve public safety, ensure service to East Portland and provide funding for safety improvements:

  • Companies could start service this year with a total 2,500 e-scooters citywide among all companies, compared with 2,043 deployed during the 2018 program. Companies may be able to expand their fleets if they follow all regulations and implement innovative programs that help meet city goals, such as eliminating sidewalk riding, eliminating improper parking, generating high ridership in East Portland.
  • If all companies qualify for all incentives, Portlanders could see a total 15,000 e-scooters by January.
  • Companies can score higher in the application process if they are able to provide e-scooters with seats, or offer e-scooters that can be locked to public bike racks, reducing incidents of e-scooters parked blocking sidewalks and ADA corner ramps.
  • Companies will be required to issue notifications, warnings, fines, and account suspensions to users who are not operating e-scooters legally. After receiving a warning, e-scooter riders may receive a fine of $50 for riding on sidewalks, or $15 for illegal parking.
  • Riders will not be able to end a trip in Tom McCall Waterfront Park and will receive warnings and fines for repeated offenses of abandoning e-scooters in city parks.
  • E-scooter riders will be charged a 25 cent street use fee, and companies will be charged a 5 to 20 cent right-of-way fee to generate funding to build safe places for people to use e-scooters, such as protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways.

What is a Shared Electric Scooter?

E-scooters are an emerging technology and new mobility service. Like bike share and car share, the service provides a shared vehicle – in this case, a small electric-powered scooter – to rent for one-way trips. This new service makes use of an existing technology – the scooters themselves – and adds app-based technology that provides the ability to share the devices using a short-term rental business model.

To begin a rental, users unlock a scooter through the company’s smartphone app. Some companies offer a call or text service to unlock for those without smartphones. To end a trip, users park the scooter on the sidewalk close to the curb and out of the pedestrian travel zone. Many companies require riders to confirm they have parked the e-scooter correctly by submitting a photo through the company’s app in order to end their rental.

E-scooters are powered almost exclusively by an electric motor, after an initial kick-off to start the device.

E-Scooter Program in Portland

In PBOT's 2018 e-scooter pilot program, the bureau gathered and shared with the public more data on the use of shared e-scooters than any other city in the nation. It published a comprehensive report on the use of e-scooters, with data about injuries within weeks of the pilot program's completion.

 PBOT will continue to provide regular public information updates throughout the 2019-20 pilot program.

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