PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s 120-day e-scooter pilot program, according to a press release prior to its inception, provided the city a chance to see how scooters would work in Portland.
At the midway point, it’s become clear that people’s thoughts on e-scooters vary from enjoyment to distaste.
“Scooters can inspire very strong passions on both sides,” said John Brady, a spokesman for PBOT. “There are people who love them, and then there are some people who don’t really like them that much at all.”
An Instagram account has been doing what it can to showcase the latter.
@birdhuntingpdx, an anonymous account, was created on July 27, two days after PBOT announced permits allowing two of the three e-scooter companies to start service in Portland.
“I’m not telling you to go ruin or dispose of e-scooters in PDX,” the account’s bio reads, “however, if you utilize your own free will to do so, send us the video of photos.”
Since then, there have been 37 posts on the account, featuring a plethora of ways that e-scooters have been vandalized, including piles of broken e-scooters, scooters tossed in garbage bins and scooters hanging from trees, a common theme. An Instagram story published on Monday also showed what appeared to be someone defecating on an e-scooter, preceded by a post saying, “You’ve been warned ¯_(ツ)_/¯.” That post has since been deleted.
KOIN 6 News reached out to the account on Instagram asking about its creation and its intent, but hasn’t heard back at the time of publication.
A spokeswoman for Bird provided the following statement on the account and acts of vandalism against their e-scooters.
“When Bird vehicles are vandalized, it’s like breaking windows in our own neighborhood. We hope that when people see available Birds, they are mindful of our friends and neighbors who rely on our vehicles to get to work on time or make it to their next appointment. We encourage people in communities to report incidents of vandalism to Birds, and irresponsible behavior on Birds, to local authorities and to the company. Bird investigates all reports of vandalism and takes appropriate measures, including working with law enforcement and removing people from our platform.”
There’s also another way people have been complaining about e-scooters. Around 600 different people have filed a total of 1,600 complaints to PBOT about e-scooters, most of which are centered around the lack of people wearing helmets (541 complaints) and people riding on the sidewalks (775 complaints). There have also been serial complainers, according to PBOT, who have complained upwards of 12 times. Additionally, there have been 14 reported injuries, the worst being a broken leg. PBOT acknowledged the actual number of injuries is probably higher.
Still, PBOT says it has no plans to step up enforcement of laws.
“We don’t want to come across as heavy handed,” Brady said. “We want to give people the opportunity to do the right thing. And if we can see that people are learning and doing the right thing, we’ll continue with that.”
One alternative PBOT has used is education. Last week, they held a scooter safety event with representatives from all three e-scooter companies. They also gave out 500 free helmets on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Despite the complaints, e-scooters have been popular in Portland, according to PBOT’s most recent report. As of Thursday, over 2,000 e-scooters from the three companies — Bird, Skip and Lime — were in active use in Portland. Since the program began on July 25 there had been over 283,108 rides taken, traveling over 380,691 miles.