Disability Rights Oregon addresses concerns with e-scooter pilot program

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Advocates for people with disabilities in Oregon want Portland to strengthen its rules on e-scooters before the trial program returns this summer.

Those advocates say they've gotten a lot of complaints about how the e-scooters can be hazardous to the disabled community. One of the concerns is how people parked their scooters.

In Portland, they're supposed to be parked on the curb. However, Disability Rights Oregon lawyer Matthew Denney said a lot of them ended up blocking curb cuts, which are essential for disabled people to cross the street.

The other common complaint the group received during last summer’s e-scooter trial was about the speeds of the scooters on roads and sidewalks.

“We want the city to really address the problems before they bring them back again and makes sure any trial they do is going to be safer,” said Denney.

Denney tells KATU News he has experienced those issues as a disabled person who works and lives downtown.

“Last summer, about two thirds of the scooters I saw were on the sidewalks and out on the street. The prospect of having scooters going 15 miles per hour on the sidewalk again is pretty scary,” said Denney.

He says scooters can be more dangerous than bikes, because scooters are lower to the ground and can be easily missed - especially for someone with a sight impairment.

He is lobbying the city to put in an ordinance for reducing speeds, especially in high trafficked areas. KATU News brought those concerns to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, where a spokesperson says they have received feedback from the disabled community.

Some of the changes the spokesperson says we'll see are designated parking areas like the Biketown racks.

They're also exploring new technology like geofencing or sensors that will prohibit illegal parking.

There's no national database tracking scooter accidents, but the city of Austin, Texas teamed up with the CDC to study scooter accident trends.

So far they've found that most accidents don't involve a car, it's people hitting curbs, parked cars or potholes.

Austin plans to use the information to make new regulations.

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