E-scooters will return to Portland with new rules, enforcement fines, more scooters

Portlanders ride scooters down NE Halsey Street. Photo by Viktoria Haiboniuk, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

PORTLAND, Ore. – The sharable e-scooters are coming back to Portland and could be back on the streets as soon as April 26, but the city’s transportation bureau said Monday that there will be some changes to how safety rules are enforced.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) took input from thousands of Portlanders after a pilot program last summer, which factored in the new public safety measures as they roll out a second, full-year trial dubbed the “Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program.”

The new trial will last from April 26, 2019 and run through April 26, 2020. As many as 2,500 scooters could be on the streets at the beginning of the pilot.

PBOT says some of the biggest concerns among Portlanders were related to people riding on the sidewalk, or parking scooters illegally. In the new pilot, riders could be fined $50 for riding on the sidewalk and $15 for parking the scooters illegally.

Dylan Rivera, a PBOT spokesperson, said PBOT will monitor high-traffic areas and notify the scooter companies of riders breaking the rules. He says scooter companies will issue warnings, fines, and could suspend riders' accounts.

"We want to preserve access to the sidewalks for everyone," Rivera said.

More than 1,600 complaints were filed last year regarding people riding scooters on the sidewalk, according to PBOT's 2018 E-Scooter Findings Report. That represents more than 26 percent of all complaints.

The group, Disability Rights Oregon, had several concerns it brought to the transportation bureau regarding safety. It said e-scooters can be hazardous to the disabled community.

Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said the city heard those concerns. PBOT is encouraging companies to use scooters that can attach to bike locks, which would keep them out of the way of pedestrians and off ADA ramps.

The city will also be adding on a 25-cent use fee, and the companies will be charged between 5 and 20 cents for a “right-of-way” fee. All the money generated will go toward making more areas for e-scooters to safely ride.

Companies also must use geofencing technology to prevent riders from leaving scooters in city parks, like along the walkway in Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Rivera says the city expects up to 2,500 scooters on the streets when the pilot project begins. Companies can incrementally expand their “fleets” moving forward. Rivera says there could be as many as 9,000 scooters on Portland streets by January if companies follow all the city’s regulations and help PBOT meet its goals, like stopping people from riding on the sidewalk, stopping improper parking, and getting better ridership in east Portland.

"One of the things we heard was folks wanted more scooters, because they couldn't find one when they wanted one," Rivera said. "Even with about 700,000 rides in four months last year, there could have been more rides if they were more available."

Those rides totaled more than 800,000 miles.

A spokesperson for Bird, one of the scooter companies in Portland during the 2018 pilot, sent the following statement to KATU News.

"Bird was proud to have partnered with Portland to serve its residents under the city's first shared e-scooter pilot program. While we are still reviewing the new rules provided by PBOT, our hope is that we can return to Portland's streets and once again offer our low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative to short car trips."

Jonathan Hopkins, who works in Government Affairs for Lime, one of the other companies in Portland last year, said they are also looking at the applications provided by PBOT. He said their biggest concern is the high fees being charged by PBOT, which he says are higher than most other cities they work in.

How many scooters we could see by 2020. It may surprise you:

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