The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has approved permits for two companies that plan to start offering the first e-scooters with seats in Portland starting today, as part of a one-year pilot program for shared electric scooters that started in April.
California-based Razor has been permitted for 525 e-scooters, making Portland the ninth city where the company is operating. Tacoma, Wash.-based Shared has been permitted for 200 e-scooters, in the company's first offer of e-scooter service to the public.
“We prioritized accessibility in this second Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program, and I am pleased to say that both Razor and Shared delivered with these seated e-scooters," said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “There is still a significant amount of work to be done to achieve equity in transportation, but the addition of seated e-scooters to our local fleet opens up this mode of transport to many more Portlanders.”
PBOT is introducing this more accessible service in direct response to what the bureau heard from the community while evaluating the 2018 pilot program.
In a focus group with people with disabilities and in PBOT's online open house, some Portlanders said they felt they could not use a stand-up scooter and a seated scooter might provide them with access. PBOT built that into its e-scooter permit application process, which provided more favorable scoring for companies that offer e-scooters with seats.
The seated e-scooters offered by the companies are built with larger wheels and wider tires than the equipment that comes on stand-up scooters, another way the seated devices may feel more accessible to more Portlanders.
The 725 e-scooters expected to start service today bring the total number of permitted scooters in Portland to 1,975, slightly less than the 2,043 e-scooters allowed in PBOT's 2018 pilot program.
Razor and Shared bring the total number of e-scooter companies operating in Portland to five, after Bolt, Lime and Spin were permitted earlier this year.
The Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program started 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-scooters on sidewalks (in violation of state traffic laws) and creating conflict with people walking and Portlanders 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.
Source: Portland Bureau of Transportation