E-Scooters Return To Portland

E-Scooters are returning to Portland.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced that it will issue permits to three scooter companies: Bolt, Lime and Spin. After picking up their permits Friday and applying the required permit stickers, the companies may start service. Portlanders should expect to see scooters on the street over the course of the day.

Four additional companies -- Clevr Mobility, Jump, Razor USA, Shared Technologies, Inc. -- are in the final stages of submitting the required scooter specifications and other information necessary for a permit. If they qualify, PBOT expects them to launch their fleets in the coming weeks.

If any of the four companies do not meet all of the final requirements for a permit, PBOT may choose to take the next highest scoring applicant from the remaining companies.

With today’s launch, PBOT is starting its second Shared E-scooter Pilot Program. This second pilot will last until April 26, 2020. It follows a 120-day pilot program that PBOT conducted from July through November last year.

“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. That’s why we are launching this second pilot," said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “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.”

“At PBOT, our goal is to build a safe transportation system that helps our city reduce its carbon footprint and supports our commitment to equity,” said Chris Warner, PBOT’s Interim Director. “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.”

The initial pilot showed that scooters were very popular, with Portlanders and visitors taking over 700,000 rides in the four-month period. Based on data and user surveys, PBOT also found evidence that scooters had the potential to reduce congestion and pollution. At the same time, the initial pilot raised concerns about sidewalk riding and improperly parked scooters.

Based on these and other findings, PBOT has introduced key changes for the second pilot aimed at improving public safety, ensuring wide access to scooters, especially in East Portland, and providing funding for safety improvements.

These key changes include:

Fleet incentives. PBOT has capped the initial number of scooters at 2,500, the same limit as the first pilot. However with the second pilot, 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 and generating high ridership in East Portland. By January, PBOT estimates that companies may qualify for incentives that could lead to 9,000 total e-scooters in Portland.

New measures to reduce illegal and dangerous riding. Companies will be required to issue notifications, warnings, fines, and suspend accounts of users who are operating scooters illegally. PBOT regulatory specialists will monitor sidewalks, documenting instances of illegal scooter riding and parking and providing those to the companies. After receiving a warning, riders may receive a fine of $50 for riding on sidewalks or $15 for illegal parking. PBOT staff will monitor the companies’ efforts to significantly decrease unsafe rider behavior and respond to public reports of illegal parking.

New tools to discourage scooter riding in Waterfront Park. Companies will be required to use geo-fencing technology to prevent scooter riders from ending their trips in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, including the multiuse path located along the Harbor Wall. Riders will not be able to end a trip in the park and will receive warnings and fines for repeated offenses of abandoning e-scooters in city parks.

New funding for safer scooter riding. A shortage of safe places to ride led many people to ride scooters on sidewalks during the 2018 pilot. To make more safe places to ride scooters, riders will be charged a 25-cent street use fee and companies will be charged a 5- to 20-cent right-of-way fee. PBOT will use the funds generated to build safe places for people to use scooters, such as protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. PBOT learned in the first pilot that where scooter users had safe places to ride in the street, sidewalk riding decreased. These investments will also improve safety for people walking, biking or using mobility devices.

Scooter permit applications were due April 9th, 2019. Twelve companies applied to operate scooters. PBOT staff chose the finalists based on the extent to which they both met the agency's operational and technical requirements and demonstrated the ability to advance PBOT goals, including reducing barriers to access, supporting environmental sustainability, and improving pedestrian comfort. Before issuing a permit, PBOT tests each finalist's equipment and data sharing technology to ensure they meet city requirements.

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