PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — E-scooter company Lime is looking to make its presence permanent in Portland – and then expand out through the metro area. 

Jeremy Nelson, Lime’s general manager in Oregon, said the company is interested in bringing electric scooters to cities like Hillsboro, Gresham, Milwaukie, and Vancouver to grow its presence in the state. 

First, however, Nelson says the company is focused on Portland. Lime was one of three companies granted permits to participate in the city’s e-scooter pilot, which started in July but is set to end November 20.  

“We’re in active conversations with the city on extending this,” Nelson said.  

Nelson said Portland residents are now relying on e-scooters to get around and pointed to a city survey showing that some e-scooter riders are choosing scooters over cars. In addition, he said that removing scooters on November 21, as the city intends to do, hurts the 29 full-time employees Lime has hired in Portland. 

“I don’t know if anyone knew how popular it would be,” Nelson said. As of this week, Portland’s Bureau of Transportation says that more than 640,000 trips have been taken on scooters. 

PBOT spokesperson Dylan Rivera, however, said the city does intend to stick with its original plan to pull e-scooters off the streets at the end of the pilot, giving the agency and the city time to review the data and evaluate the success of the pilot.  

If the city of Portland ends up granting permits to scooter companies, Rivera said it won’t be until sometime in 2019.  

Nelson said Lime is trying to be a good partner to the city of Portland and respond to the concerns raised by PBOT, scooter riders, and city residents.  

New Lime billboards tell users to “Respect the Ride,” instructing them to wear helmets, park responsibly and use bike lanes. It’s illegal to ride e-scooters without helmets and to ride on sidewalks, though the city did not choose to actively enforce those laws during the pilot program.  

“I would think that it’s in everybody’s best interests to hold people accountable for behaving correctly,” Nelson said, adding that the company would support enforcement if education efforts weren’t achieving desired effects. Lime is giving out 25,000 free helmets to people who sign up to take its “Respect the Ride” pledge online. 

While e-scooter companies initially developed bad reputations in cities for introducing e-scooters without officials’ permissions, Nelson said the company will ultimately respect Portland’s pilot rules and pull scooters off the streets once the pilot ends. He said reintroduction of scooters without official approval is off the table.  

“We wouldn’t expect to do that at all,” he said.  

Still, Nelson said he hopes the city gives scooter companies Lime the thumbs-up soon. Ideally, he’d like to deploy several thousand scooters in Portland proper – many times more than the 680 scooters currently permitted in the pilot.