Are electric scooters coming to the Portland surburbs?
The city of Wilsonville is considering allowing 50 publicly-accessible Bird electric scooters to deploy around town.
During a presentation at a City Council work session last month, Garrett Gronowski, an executive at the Bird scooter company, explained that the goal of the business is to promote sustainability and nullify unnecessary car trips (over two miles, in Bird's view). The scooters travel at a maximum speed of 15 miles per hour and only adults can ride them. The scooters would be managed by a Wilsonville resident designated as an operations manager, Gronowski said. That person would collect the scooters each evening and return them to their designated stations by the next morning.
Some relatively similar-sized cities in Oregon that allow the scooters, the city noted, include Hermiston and Pendleton.
Safety could be a concern for the council, as the city staff report noted that e-scooters have been involved in 50,000 accidents -- including 27 fatalities -- between 2017 and 2019, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Bird recommends people wear helmets but cannot require them.
"It's not a surprise that these can be dangerous vehicles, so there are concerns about safety and liability," Community Development Director Chris Neamtzu said at the meeting.
Wilsonville Councilor Ben West also worried that the scooters, which people park at various spots around town, could clutter city streets. Gronowski noted that the initial deployment would be modest and that, in Wilsonville, they likely would be used by community members (rather than tourists, like some cities) who have a vested interest in keeping the community orderly. Gronowski also said poor parking jobs could be reported.
Another concern city staff had, Neamtzu said, was the potential for Bird to compete for ridership with Wilsonville's transit agency, South Metro Area Regional Transit.
"There's the potential for some folks to choose to ride a scooter rather than get on our SMART network," Neamtzu said.
The session was merely informational and the city may discuss the possibility of allowing the scooters at a later date. Staff also may gauge community interest via the Let's Talk Wilsonville page.
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