The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will extend its 2019-'20 Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program to Dec. 31, 2020. The program started April 26 and was scheduled to end April 26, 2020.
The extension will provide more time to thoroughly study the impacts of e-scooters on the transportation system to inform decisions about whether and how e-scooters should continue to be allowed in Portland. This will give PBOT more time to share findings with the public and solicit feedback from Portlanders. The extension will also afford more time to test innovative ways to further improve the program.
"E-scooters have the potential to provide a convenient, climate-friendly transportation option for thousands of Portlanders, but safety is my top priority," Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said. "We heard from Portlanders that riding on sidewalks and irresponsible parking were the most prevalent problems with the 2018 e-scooter pilot program—while I am pleased that we took action to address this issue with our safe scooting awareness campaign, I remain committed to preserving sidewalk access vital to the well-being of seniors and people with disabilities. I intend to monitor this pilot extension closely to ensure that e-scooters are used safely and responsibly in our shared public right-of-way.”
With a longer pilot program, PBOT staff will be able to continue to explore a variety of issues raised by this new technology, including:
• How Portlanders might be using e-scooters in ways that ease congestion and reduce carbon emissions;
• How e-scooters can best meet the transportation needs of historically underserved communities, particularly people of color and people living on low incomes;
• How rider education campaigns and continued enforcement can promote safer e-scooter riding;
• How macro-economic factors, like competition, mergers and acquisitions, and market volatility, may impact local operators.
With the extension, the six companies currently permitted by PBOT will have the ability to continue to operate in Portland until Dec. 31, 2020. The companies include Bird, Bolt, Lime, Razor, Shared and Spin. During this extension, PBOT will not issue permits to additional companies.
PBOT will update its Administrative Rules governing the Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program in spring 2020 to accommodate this extension. PBOT may make additional changes to its regulatory requirements to apply lessons learned and further improve the program.
PBOT is announcing this extension now because local operators seek to provide stability for their employees and enable planning for the future. During the summer, the six e-scooter companies employed more than 50 full-time and more than one hundred part-time workers in Portland.
In advance of making the decision to extend the pilot program, PBOT reviewed available data from April 26 through Nov. 30. Data included utilization of scooters, enforcement efforts and injury reports.
Findings from the period include:
• Riders took 954,156 trips and traveled 1,014,671 miles. Combined with trips during the 2018 pilot, e-scooter riders in Portland have cumulatively taken 1,654,485 trips and traveled 1,816,559 total miles. Companies report having tens of thousands of customers in Portland. From the 2018 pilot program, PBOT learned that e-scooters replaced driving and ride-hailing trips: 34 percent of Portland riders and 48 percent of visitors reported using an e-scooter instead of driving a personal car or using Uber, Lyft, or a taxi.
• In response to public input during the 2018 pilot, PBOT regulatory and parking enforcement staff have been issuing warnings and fines to e-scooter companies, which are required to pass them onto their riders. PBOT staff have issued 57 warnings and 723 penalties for instances of improper parking and sidewalk riding.
• Multnomah County Health Department identified 183 visits to emergency departments and urgent care clinics that were related to e-scooters. Their analysis includes all e-scooter related visits, including privately owned as well as rented e-scooters, from April 26 to Sept. 30. MCHD will continue to monitor injury visits throughout the pilot program.
PBOT also announced a modest expansion of the number of e-scooters permitted to operate in the city. Spin will be allowed to expand its fleet by 192 scooters, up from 641 scooters. The additional e-scooters could be deployed as soon as next week.
Spin qualified for a larger fleet by hosting safety workshops, having responsive communication with PBOT staff, working with e-scooter companies and PBOT on geofencing technology, featuring their affordability program prominently on their website, and collaborating with workforce development organizations.
PBOT offers incentives to e-scooter companies on a quarterly basis. The incentives encourage companies to advance the City's safety, equity and environmental goals.
Spin's fleet expansion was based on a second quarterly incentive review period, from July 1 to Sept. 30.
Since the first review period, PBOT adjusted incentives to strengthen rewards for efforts to increase affordability and access to underserved Portlanders. PBOT based the incentives update on required data reports, questionnaires to companies and nonprofit partners, and assessment of company efforts to partner and meet City goals.
Additionally, earlier this month, Bolt suspended operations in Portland. Bolt can resume operations with 214 e-scooters when the company is ready to meet its permit obligations.
Based on this announcement, there are currently 2,865 permitted shared e-scooters in Portland, down from 2,887 previously. Each company is permitted the following number of scooters:
• Bird – 525 scooters
• Lime – 782 scooters
• Razor – 525 scooters
• Shared – 200 scooters
• Spin – 833 scooters
Source: Portland Bureau of Transportation