E-scooters arrive in Portland

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Electric scooters have already hit the streets in San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles, and now they’re in Portland. 

The Portland Bureau of Transportation issued permits to Skip and Bird, two e-scooter companies, for a pilot program that’ll run until Nov. 20. PBOT said they’ll conduct an evaluation of the pilot program to see whether e-scooters “are compatible with the safe, efficient and equitable operation of Portland’s transportation system.” 

An e-scooter along the Waterfront on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (KOIN)

A permit was issued to Lime on Friday.

Around 200 of the scooters are now parked all around Portland. However, unlike Biketown bikes, they don’t have any racks, so riders can leave them anywhere — which has caused problems in other cities. That’s one reason why Portland required Bird to get a permit and comply with the rules.

As a renter, you can’t ride on sidewalks and you have to wear a helmet. Riders rent through an app and Bird requires a scan of your driver’s license as proof the renter and rider is at least 18 years old. Your credit card is charged a dollar to unlock the scooter then 15 cents a minute.

According to Bird, they’ve hired people to collect the scooters each night, recharge them and put them back out. 

If someone happens to leave a scooter in the street or blocks a doorway, PBOT said it’s up to the company to resolve the issue.

“There’s also a requirement that the company has a certain amount of time to go and remove the hazard,” John Brady with PBOT said.

The bureau opened applications for the pilot program earlier this month. 

“I’m very happy we were able to stand up this pilot as quickly as we did,” Interim Transportation Director Chris Warner said in a press release. “This is a rapidly changing industry, and we wanted to be flexible and nimble in setting up this pilot. Portlanders will now have a chance to try this new way of getting around, and we’ll have the opportunity to see if scooters work in Portland and help us meet our safety, mobility, equity and climate action goals.”

Sanjay Dastoor, the co-founder and CEO of Skip, said the cost element of the e-scooters will be structured better after the pilot program.

“We’re still going to understand that every city is different,” he said.

Dastoor also said Skip’s connections with cities have been “drama-free,” something he said can’t be said for Bird, the other e-scooter company participating in the pilot program.

“Different operators have approached city relationships in different ways … We’re the only operator that’s never been issued a cease-and-desist letter,” he said.

PBOT said the e-scooter capacity will be capped at 2,500, a total split between Skip and Bird — but more companies may get permits in the future.

Dastoor said Skip has been allocated an initial 450 of the 2,500. 

An infographic on e-scooter safety and laws from the Portland Bureau of Transportation. (Courtesy: PBOT)

On July 6, Bike Portland editor and publisher Jonathan Maus shared a sense of enthusiasm for e-scooters. While he and other cyclists will likely be sharing bike lanes with the scooters, he said his experience trying out the scooters won him over.

“It has really huge potential to change how people get around, especially in the dense part of downtown,” Maus said. “That’s really where electric scooters can have the most impact.”

TriMet said it’s excited to share Portland streets with e-scooters.

Bird held a helmet giveaway at Pioneer Courthouse Square Thursday morning.

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