PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Beginning Friday, e-scooters will be back on the streets of Portland in a year-long pilot project that follows a much shorter test in 2018.
The first pilot had e-scooters from Bird, Lime and Skip, but this year a total of 12 companies applied for permits. Among the new applicants are Lyft and Car2Go. Some 2,500 e-scooters are expected to be on city streets within the next couple of months.
The e-scooter companies will have to take out at least $2 million in insurance to operate in Portland and they will be expected to enforce safety rules on the scooters.
Under the agreement with the city, the companies are required to issue warnings followed by citations and fines to customers who don’t comply with the rules.
For example, it will cost riders $50 if they’re caught riding on a sidewalk; $15 for illegal parking (such as leaving an e-scooter lying on a sidewalk). Customers won’t be allowed to ride on sidewalks, the Eastbank Esplanade or in parks.
Park rangers and other officials will monitor e-scooter users and notify the respective company if a customer isn’t cooperating with the rules.
“We will be monitoring and taking pictures in some cases of illegal use then send that along to the company and the company will pass along the warning on citation directly to the rider,” said Dylan Rivera with the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
The city will also monitor e-scooter companies to make sure they follow through on issuing fines.
Customers will have a little help in complying with the rules. If an e-scooter is ridden or parked in an off-limits area such as a park or a sidewalk, built-in technology is supposed to warn the rider with a beeping sound or the e-scooter may simply shut down.
The companies that keep up with the city’s expectations will be rewarded with being able to put more of their e-scooters on Portland streets. As many as 15,000 could be in use by January of 2020.
A survey after last year’s pilot project found 62% of Portlanders have a positive view of e-scooters and that they have the ability to reduce traffic congestion.
KOIN 6 News saw Roberto Lasso on a scooter Thursday. Lasso, a native of Spain, said this scooter is his own and he uses it all the time.
“I think it’s a great way for transportation. I get the concerns but if we just apply common sense, it’s like you don’t drive your car on the sidewalk,” Lasso said. “Cars can be a hazard for people in the city but we have rules and if everyone follows the rules it’s a great thing.”
He had a helmet on and said, “I wear the helmet just for myself.” He said he’s never had an accident and is always aware of his surroundings.
“I try to be on the bike lanes, but if there isn’t a bike lane, I try to be aware of the cars on the road.”
Lasso is convinced e-scooters solve problems.
“The energy is clean, less contamination for the city, less contamination for the people,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I think it’s a great solution for transportation.”