Esplanade closure begins February 1st

PBOT has sent five companies letter of intent to join dockless e-scooter pilot

Posted by on June 1st, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Promotional image from Bird, one of the companies Portland is in contact with.
(Photo: @Bird on Instagram)

The Oregonian has just reported on a letter sent from PBOT Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Director Leah Treat that solidifies the City’s intention to allow private companies to test dockless e-scooters in Portland this summer.

“… Companies could be notified by in the next couple weeks with more information,” The Oregonian reporter Andrew Theen writes, “Portland sent the letter to Skip, Spin, LimeBike, Bird and Goat.”

Here’s the text of the letter (dated May 29th):

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is planning a four-month pilot for dockless electric scooters beginning this summer (the “Pilot Period”). The pilot will help the City of Portland determine whether dockless e-scooters can support the City’s equity, mobility, and climate action goals.

To operate a scooter share business as part of the pilot, private companies must apply for and receive a business license and a permit, and comply with the terms therein throughout the pilot period. PBOT will seek input broadly from the public during the pilot. At the end of the Pilot Period, City officials will determine whether and under what circumstances e-scooter sharing will be permitted to continue operating in the public right-of-way.


Throughout the pilot, providers will be expected to report on and mitigate impacts in several areas of concern that either the City has, or that have arisen in other cities where e-scooter companies are operating. These include (but are not limited to):

• Pedestrian safety
• Safety and access for people with disabilities
• Compliance with state law (including helmet requirements and prohibition on sidewalk riding)
• Anonymized data about trip origin, destination and length

In addition to gathering data and public input relating to the issues identified above, at the end of the Pilot Period, PBOT will seek to understand the potential benefits and burdens in relation to the City’s equity goals. Development of the test pilot and permit process is underway.

Please respond to Steve Hoyt-McBeth at 503.823.7191; if your company is interested in participating in the pilot. PBOT staff will contact you by mid-June with more information.

Finally, we remind all potential e-scooter operators that no shared e-scooters are allowed on City right-of-way in advance of or outside the permitted e-scooter pilot process. Failure to adhere to this restriction will result in confiscation of equipment and fines.

The City of Portland has a history of successful collaboration with private sector partners that offer new transportation options. We expect open, timely and honest communication from each company operating in this Pilot Period. Any company found to have violated the terms of the pilot rules may be precluded from further permitting, including prohibitions on other services your company may offer. We also seek to make this Pilot Period open and fair to all e-scooter providers. Therefore, any discovery or attempts by companies to impinge on others will be a violation of pilot rules. We look forward to a productive and informative e-scooter pilot process.

More details via The Oregonian.

If you’re curious about this whole scooter thing, read this article from The Atlantic that came out yesterday.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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  • John Lascurettes June 1, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    My safety question: are the tires fatter than our streetcar/MAX rails?

    Otherwise, I look forward to more alternative transportation options around town. I just ran across this article from the Atlantic: Unfortunately, The Electric Scooters Are Fantastic

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  • Tom Hardy June 1, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    That does it! All transit malls downtown and Parkblocks MUST become carless! Otherwise there will be carnage.
    Just Imagine 1000 scooters running around town with the riders busy texting and following their GPS!

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  • Kyle Banerjee June 1, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Very curious how scooter traffic will work bikes as they are legally required to take bike lanes or streets (and wear helmets, but that’s a separate issue).

    Presumably, a high percentage of the e-scooter share users will be casual users with less developed skills that might have difficulty in tight areas and on dodgy surfaces. But with top speeds that seem appropriate for riding near others and handling characteristics that reinforce predictable behavior, they might blend in reasonably well.

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  • J_R June 1, 2018 at 3:52 pm

    Just what we need – a device capable of 15 mph (5x the speed of pedestrians) darting around on the sidewalks and in the city streets by people with virtually no training.

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    • John Lascurettes June 1, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Just what we need. Thousands of multi-ton vehicles (50x the speed of pedestrians) darting around our streets and crosswalks, crossing driveways, by people with virtually no retraining after decades of bad habits.

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      • Chris I June 4, 2018 at 8:42 am

        Literally killing 40,000+ people in this country every year. If even one driver drops their car for an e-scooter, we will be better off.

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    • Tom June 1, 2018 at 10:58 pm

      The same thing was said when safety bicycles came out and many new riders were learning to ride at the same time. Newbies are not newbies forever.

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      • Kyle Banerjee June 2, 2018 at 12:56 pm

        I wouldn’t be so certain.

        New bike infrastructure design and advocacy is predicated on the idea that this level of skill should be expected of a huge percentage of even adult riders in this day and age.

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    • soren June 3, 2018 at 11:52 am

      why do you hate people cycling?

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      • Kyle Banerjee June 4, 2018 at 6:17 am

        A funny question coming from someone who portrays people as elites just for consistently using their bikes for transport and who expresses approval of behavior he imagines frustrates members of this group.

        Most drivers I know like cyclists more.

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        • soren June 4, 2018 at 10:04 am

          i have absolutely no problem with people who use their bikes for transportation. it’s “bros” who believe their self-proclaimed skill/knowledge/experience gives them the right to criticize, demean, and, even mock, others that i object to.

          a device capable of 15 mph (5x the speed of pedestrians) darting around on the sidewalks and in the city streets by people with virtually no training.

          the vast majority of people riding bikes in portland have no special training. nor should they have any special training. riding a bike for transportation is an incredibly safe way to get around!

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  • bikeninja June 1, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    If this country was run by a less-than-benevolent autocracy , this is exactly the scheme they would come up with to cull out the herd via accidents and tragic mishaps.

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  • Jim Lee June 1, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    Walking is healthful!

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    • Kyle Banerjee June 2, 2018 at 6:40 am

      Walking is so 20th century. The future is all about motorized active transportation.

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      • Phil Richman June 3, 2018 at 9:55 am

        E-scooters are not active transportation, but users are vulnerable. It will all be very interesting!

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        • soren June 3, 2018 at 11:54 am

          many people view mass transit as active transportation. if we were to use this kind of more inclusive definition, e-scooters would qualify too.

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          • Kyle Banerjee June 3, 2018 at 4:21 pm

            Given that you can nap on transit but not on e-scooters, it stands to reason that the latter should be regarded as active transportation if the former is.

            By this same logic, driving is also active transportation. That means pretty much everyone uses active transportation — what an amazing city we live in!

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        • Chris I June 4, 2018 at 8:47 am

          Seems like it might be a decent core workout.

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        • Greg Spencer June 4, 2018 at 9:47 am

          Interesting discussion. I think the term “active transportation” is inadequate as a descriptor for all the modes it refers to. I used to work on urban transport projects funded by the European Commission, and their terminology was better, IMO. The Commission used an umbrella term “sustainable transport” to refer to almost any mode that was safer, healthier and/or more environmentally friendly than single-passenger, conventionally-fueled cars. So this would include transit, cycling and walking as well as car pooling, car sharing and “clean” vehicles that run on electricity or low-emission fuels (e.g. LPG, biofuels). There was, as you’d expect, lots of debate about which technologies should be called “clean”.

          “Active transport”, in the Euro parlance, is as subcategory of sustainable transport that refers only to human-propelled modes e.g. cycling, walking, skating and non-motorized scooters. Another sub-category, “collective transport”, would refer to transit as-well as taxis, ride-hailing cars, even car-pooled cars when they’re being used for car pooling. I guess bike share would be both active and collective. Shared scooters would be collective but not active.

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  • Patrick Thames June 3, 2018 at 8:11 am

    I was just in San Diego witnessed 100’s of these electric Bird scooters all over the city and suburban areas. I was amazed how fast they moved and how reckless the users were. The biggest issue I saw with these scooters was abandonment… they were littered in every neighborhood.

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    • Tom June 4, 2018 at 9:15 am

      Interesting how when it comes to ones own personal mobility choice that speed is often celebrated as effiency, while for other users choices its viewed as dangerous.

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    • Pete June 6, 2018 at 6:11 pm

      San Francisco agrees with you and just banned them.

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  • Jim Lee June 3, 2018 at 8:03 pm

    Down-market Segways

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  • Andy K June 4, 2018 at 10:20 am

    I’m excited to these these hit the streets -you can never have enough active transportation options. The learning curve for users will be quite steep, however.

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  • Chris June 4, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Looks like fun!
    Any 2 wheels are better than 4, right?

    but being so small, they might easily vanish and be stripped for parts, i’m sure the batteries are not cheap.

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  • Huey Lewis June 4, 2018 at 12:15 pm

    Last month I found some NOS Pogo-Balls that a closing Toys-R-Us had been sitting on, somehow, for yeeeears. When they arrive I’m dumping them in Lents and WE ARE GONNA FLIP THE SCRIPT ON THIS AUTOCENTRIC PARADIGM. NO STUPID FORM OF TRANSPORTATION WILL BE PASSED OVER IN 2018. #CALIFORNIASPLAYGROUND #MILLENIALLSYALL #TECHPROBLEMSOLVERZ #PAYME

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    • Pete June 6, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      Onewheels for the proletariat!!! #TAKEBACKTHESIDEWALKFROMTHOSEPESKYPEDS

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