E-scooters arrive by hundreds, not thousands, in Portland
Just three companies, Bolt, Lime and Spin, met the city's standards by the official launch date on Friday, April 26, though four more providers are said to be finalizing their applications. Notably absent from the list were Bird and Skip, who both participated in a previous pilot.
"Our first e-scooter pilot demonstrated two things: Scooters have the potential to be a fun and useful transportation option for Portlanders, and we need to address significant safety and equity concerns," said Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the transit bureau.
Lime, which likely relied on its experience during the previous four-month trial in summer 2018, arrived quickly out of the gate: The company's app showed several hundred available to rent.
A newcomer, Spin, appeared to install comparable numbers.
Bolt's phone app did not display any scooters for rent over the weekend.
Officials say they capped the initial rollout at 2,500 scooters — though "fleet incentives" like eliminating improper parking and motoring on sidewalks could bolster the final tally to 9,000.
Both Lime and Spin had scooters clustered downtown and in the Central Eastside, though the companies also placed scooters east of Interstate 205. St. Johns and other far-north areas appeared to be more sparsely covered, according to the company apps.
Eudaly says city workers will track deployment data in order to ensure equity and accessibility. "Our streets are a valuable public asset," she said.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has mandated use of geofencing technology to prevent riders from deactivating scooters within Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park, though that measure alone wouldn't stop a rider from zipping along the multi-use path during the middle of a trip.
PBOT says users can be fined $50 for riding on the sidewalk or $15 for a bad parking job.
Portlanders seem to be taking a blithe attitude toward the scooter rules — at least for now.
"If there's no one on the sidewalk, we'll take the sidewalk," said Jena Lopez, who was unlocking Lime scooters with her friend Tyler Robin near Director Park on Friday.
"The esplanade's fun," said Robin, who was surprised to learn that riders are barred from the area.
New research suggests that male riders may be ignoring the dangers of scooter use. Portland State University researcher Jennifer Dill found that roughly two-thirds of scooter riders are men — while about a third are women.
On her blog, Dill notes that the gender gap may be due to safety concerns.
"If we want e-scooters to be a mobility option for everyone, we need to be thinking about providing safe and comfortable places to ride," she wrote.
Joseph Gallivan contributed to this article.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.