Escooters, with strings
A second pilot program for electric scooters started in Portland Friday, April 26, without familiar brands such as Bird and Skip.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has issued permits to Bolt, Lime and Spin. Only Lime (the green one) was in Portland for the four-month pilot last summer. Scooters are expected to hit the streets Friday afternoon.
All submitting companies had to jump through a series of only-in-Portland hoops.
Geofencing, wherein the scooter's GPS is set so that riders cannot end rides at Waterfront Park and will be fined for dumping scooters in other parks. Fines. It will be $50 for riding on sidewalks and $15 for illegal parking.
Four other companies (Clevr Mobility, Jump, Razor USA and Shared Technologies) are in line for licenses, although they must submit further proof that they qualify. They could launch within weeks.
The second coming
The new pilot program will last one year.
Companies that help eliminate sidewalk riding, improper parking and help generating high ridership in East Portland will be allowed to expand their fleets.
PBOT will charge a 5- to 20-cent right-of-way fee to the companies and develop more protected bike lanes and neighborhood greenways. The first pilot showed that scooter riders prefer riding on bike lanes, when they are available, to sidewalks.
Small squares will be marked on sidewalks and streets as Scooter Parking places, to prevent them blocking the right of way.
PBOT has drawn a map of scooter-friendly routes in Portland. http://map.escooterpdx.com.
Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said in a statement that scooters were fun and popular but the city wanted to address some safety and equity concerns.
"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."
Chris Warner, PBOT's Interim Director said data from the pilot would help the city learn about how people use them, with a view to expanding from 2,500 scooters to 9,000.
Twelve companies applied to operate scooters by April 9, 2019. After testing their data PBOT staff chose the finalists likely to reduce barriers to access, supporting environmental sustainability, and improving pedestrian comfort. PBOT bragged that it had shared with the public more data on the use of scooters than any other city in the nation and produced a comprehensive report.
Fines will be collected through the app. A release said that while "PBOT regulatory specialists (not parking enforcement but staff from the division that conducts oversight of taxis and TNCs such as Uber and Lyft) will monitor sidewalks, documenting instances of illegal scooter riding and parking and providing those to the companies." The scooter companies will have to issue the fines.
PBOT already does the same with car-sharing. If you illegally park a Car2Go or ReachNow and a parking enforcement officer writes a ticket, the rideshare companies will pass that cost on to the driver.
Out riding near Director Park where the first Lime scooters were dropped Friday lunchtime, Jack Dowe moved here from New York City seven months ago. He's from Connecticut and works in commercial real estate. He used the scooters all the time last summer.
"I looked into buying one instead of waiting for them to come back. My friends and I have a group chat, someone sent an article that they were coming back. This morning I was making a bunch of jokes, like 'Went to bed last night with a need for speed, woke up and didn't see any of the scooters out on the street.' Then today I was monitoring the app. I have all the apps."
He just spent $750 on a used Specialized hybrid commuter bike, so will stick to renting.
Dowe left the Lime on the sidewalk outside Umpqua bank, and it was gone again in 10 minutes.
Jena Lopez and Tyler Robin were unlocking a pair outside the Tea Bar on the north side of Director Park, where four were parked. They had used them before but Lopez was having trouble getting access to one, and it sounded an increasingly loud alarm until she left it alone. She said last summer she learned to ride by using the sidewalks because she almost was hit by a car on the street.
"If there's no one on the sidewalk we'll take the sidewalk," Lopez said. The pair had a few hours free Friday to take a joyride and "see where the day takes us, probably head up towards northeast, spread the scooter love so they're not all in one place."
"The esplanade's fun," said Robin. She was surprised to hear that that they will not be able to end rides there. "That's such bulls---," added Lopez.
"They're fun, they're really fast. I like going places on them, going to my friends," said Robin.
Both have bicycles, and Robin has a car. Robin had been checking the app daily since reading they were coming back. "They really loved the scoots," Lopez said of her friend.
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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