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Opinion: Helmets, sidewalks, Segways, other thoughts on e-scooters

Posted by on August 3rd, 2018 at 12:43 pm

They’re already proving popular.
(Click to enlarge and read captions)
(Photos: Jonathan Maus)

I was out of town when e-scooters launched in Portland last week, so yesterday was my first chance to observe them.

“The law itself leaves it vague as to how far you can ride it on the sidewalk.”
— Charley Gee

First. Why does BikePortland even care about scooters? Here are a few reasons:

I strolled around Pioneer Square and Waterfront Park to watch and see how these new wheeled vehicles were being used. My top takeaways are that the scooters are: very popular with those who use them, way too scarce, and in need of a few legal tweaks.

➤ Scooter riders use bike lanes, so it behooves us to get to know our new neighbors.

➤ Scooter riders could become a vital new voice that helps push for more bike/scooter infrastructure, new laws, and so on.

➤ Scooters challenge the driving (and to a lesser degree, cycling)-dominant status quo, and as such, they will receive a lot of hate from existing road users. Not only can bicycle riders relate to this type of othering, it can also expose how willing people are to change. Like congestion pricing, road diets, or protected bike lanes, e-scooters are a Rorschach test that help us better understand people’s perspectives.

On that note, let’s dive in…

The helmet thing

A lot is being said about helmets. They’re required by law (ORS 814.534) for all scooter riders. If you get stopped and cited by a police officer (and that’s a big if), the fine is $25. Keep in mind, the courts will waive the fine for your first offense if you can show that you own a helmet and are willing to use it.

When I posted a photo of a smiling group co-workers set for a crosstown, happy-hour-seeking jaunt on social media yesterday, several people expressed concern about their helmetless heads. I question the sincerity of that concern given the vast amount of illegal and much more dangerous road behaviors we see around us all the time, everyday. It’s also strange to me how many people are suddenly very focused on traffic law only when something new and different — and potentially upsetting to the status-quo — arrives on the scene.

I think the existing Oregon laws that regulate electric scooters (and bikes for that matter) are woefully outdated and out-of-touch. It makes no sense to me that the law requires helmets for scooter riders — yet does not require them for riders of Segways, bicycles, or electric bicycles (or auto users for that matter, given the velocity they’re used at and how many people are hurt/killed while using them). No lawmaker ever considered these types of e-scooters, or this type of use, when they drafted the existing laws. It should be changed to allow helmetless scooting.

Sidewalks

Without any other valid arguments against these new vehicles that are very popular, extremely efficient and much more friendly to the health of people and our planet than cars, we’re seeing a lot of people focus on helmets and sidewalks. The helmet thing is understandable given the pervasive paternalism of our driving-dominated culture. The concerns about sidewalk riding are a different beast.

They rolled into the street at the first opportunity, which the (vague) law seems to allow.

Unlike bikes, e-scooters are prohibited from all sidewalks. But according to Oregon law (ORS 814.524), people are allowed to ride e-scooters on the sidewalk, “to enter or leave adjacent property.” To me that sounds like an exception to allow people to scoot on the sidewalk from a parking spot to the street, or vice versa. I asked active transportation lawyer Charley Gee to help clarify. “If the scooter was on property adjacent to the sidewalk (say a patio in front of your building), I’d say you could ride it on the sidewalk to the point of reasonable exit from the sidewalk (like the end of the block or the nearest driveway),” Gee said. “But the law itself leaves it vague as to how far you can ride it on the sidewalk.”

In the end, police are likely to focus their resources on the most dangerous and egregious infractions. And in my opinion, people safely using a tiny wheeled device that goes no faster than 15 mph should not be a focus of enforcement — or of public outrage.

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Segways

There’s an interesting comparison to make between these “new” e-scooters and the infamous Segway. Launched in 2001, the Segway was supposed to transform urban mobility forever. That never happened and the product has been relegated to tourist novelty. That historical footnote aside, what I find more interesting is Segways impact on laws.

Seeking to sell as many of the devices as they could, Segway lobbyists worked hard to influence lawmakers across the country. They succeeded wildly and today a vast majority of states have a separate set of laws that govern “Electric personal assistive mobility devices” or EPAMDs. This is the Segway Law. In Oregon, Segways are defined in ORS 801.259 and as a result they are regulated more like wheelchairs and walkers, than bicycles or mopeds. They don’t require helmets, they have more leeway in using crosswalks, and they are allowed on all paths — including those in Portland city parks. Which brings me to my next point.

Scooting on Parks facilities like the Esplanade, Springwater, and Waterfront Park

As you’d expect, many people are riding e-scooters on these wonderful and safe carfree paths. The problem is, current Portland City Code 20.12.170 (D) prohibits it. This is not good policy and if scooters stick around, we should consider amending this law to allow them.

Paths like the ones in Waterfront Park should not be off-limits to scooter users.

You’ll note that Segways (referred to as “Human or personal transporter system” in City Code) are allowed in Portland Parks facilities. So are those huge, four-wheeled tourist surreys and electric bicycles and skateboards, and so on. I don’t see a good argument against e-scooters in Parks facilities beyond the existing, outdated City Code. And keep in mind, the paths in our parks are not recreational facilities. They were paid for with federal transportation funds. As such, there’s a strong argument to be made for regulating them as transportation corridors. But don’t take my word for it, ask the Federal Highway Administration.

Scooter scarcity

The final point I want to make is that it’s still too early to assess the impact these scooters could have on our transportation system because there aren’t enough of them available. PBOT spokesman John Brady told me this morning that we currently have just 1,000 scooters on the streets. That means about 800 of them are in the Central City, with the rest east of I-205 (at least in theory). Micro-mobility expert and scooter/bike-share industry insider Michal Nakashimada recently told Sightline that Portland’s Central City could support 4,000 scooters but the ideal cap should be dynamic based on usage.

The success of these shared systems relies on easy accessibility and plenty of stations and/or plenty of bikes and scooters available. Portland’s pilot program will limit the total amount to 2,500. That’s probably not enough, but we’ll have a much better sense of how successful these scooters will — or won’t — be once we get more of them on the streets.

In the meantime, I say let’s chill out a bit and keep our eyes on the prize.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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JJJ
Guest

One challenge is terminology. When the laws were written for scooters, didn’t they refer to the things that look just like mopeds?

This is a scooter.
http://www.genuinescooters.com/buddy50.html

The things in your photos? Those are clearly very, very different.

You stand on a Segway. You stand on a Bird. Same laws should apply.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

The distinction a Segway has that these blade scooters don’t is the ability to turn on two wheels in place (per the definition of the law).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Al Gore would not be seen dead on a Bird.

Paul J Atkinson
Guest
Paul J Atkinson

Dang

…cancels production of “Weekend at Birdies.”

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

I wondered about that to start with, but after reading the law I don’t believe that to be the case.

I do wish the law had explicitly defined each their terms better, but the term scooter and motorized scooter definitely appear to be referring to stand on devices.

Sit-on scooters are considered mopeds or motorcycles, depending on engine size.

mh
Subscriber

I’ve seen several things that look very like the rental electric kick-scooters, but have seats. Same small wheels, unlike the mopeds, but also a seat on a pole. I’d swear they sit sidesaddle. Not something I’m creative enough to hallucinate.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

A lot of people have found these things so tremendously useful (like bikes) that individual purchases are going through the roof. That is what you are seeing mh. I know one guy in town who has half a dozen of these sorts of micro-mobility devices. He is too heavy to comply with maximum weight standards for the sharing services. I say anything that gets people out of their killing machines is a good thing for society.

encephalopath
Guest
encephalopath

Yep… these electric things fall into the class of “Motor Assisted Scooter” which, according to the definition in ORS 801, can go up to 24 MPH. A helmet doesn’t seem unreasonable for a 24 MPH vehicle nor does excluding them from sidewalks.

The Bird-like scooters go what, 5 MPH? They need their own definition in the revised statutes. “Motor Assisted Scooter” isn’t the right place to put them.

Zoomzit
Guest
Zoomzit

Rode a Lime scooter earlier this week. Top speed is 20 mph. I think the helmet issue is exactly the same as it is for bikes (It safer to use it, but should be up to the user to make the final decision).

I like these way better than segways and way way better than the four wheeled bike car things that that tourists take on the esplanade. Over the long-term, I think these are going to become more popular than the biketown bikes. Although I think the ideal solution is a network of dockless electric assist bikes. The electric assist is great on the scooters, but I bet more people would feel comfortable on a e-bike as compared to an e-scooter as the bike requires less coordination and balance.

I really hope PDX bicyclists make common cause with e-scooters. Scooters travel around the same speeds as bikes, don’t clog up the bike lanes any more than bikes, use the same infrastructure and have the same infrastructure challenges. Really, scooters coming to Portland means that we could reasonably double the number of people using bike infrastructure, and that gives a lot more weight behind making sure that that bike/scooter infrastructure continues to improve in our city.

Even though I am a long time cyclist in this city, I can see taking these things relatively frequently when I am feeling lazy and don’t want to break a sweat during a 2-4 mile trip. It complements bike riding well.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

hear hear

Paul H
Guest
Paul H

> Scooters travel around the same speeds as bikes, don’t clog up the
> bike lanes any more than bikes, use the same infrastructure and have
> the same infrastructure challenges.

This is my experience (as a cyclist) as well. The first time I had to cross the Hawthorne Bridge behind one I planned to settle in for a slow ride, but I was pleasantly surprised at its quick pace.

I’ve so far encountered no trouble with scooters that I don’t encounter with fellow cyclists.

Beth
Guest
Beth

We have a lot of legal housecleaning and education before I can find “common cause” with scooters or segways. And neither of those will be meaningful until we have enforcement. I’ve already been nearly run off a MUP twice by people scooting too fast and failing to give audible warning. I’m all for getting folks out of cars, but let’s make sure the rules are clear –and clearly enforced — for everyone.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I don’t want the rules to be “clearly enforced” against me. I violate them from time to time, and if I do so responsibly there is no good served by giving me a ticket.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Nobody who gets a ticket thinks they deserve it!

Zoomzit
Guest
Zoomzit

Do you recognize that pretty much the entire non-biking population of Portland says similar things about cyclists? They say as soon as every member of the population is perfect, I’ll support you.

Kinda weird how non-accepting of scooters most of this thread is, given that most of cycling’s history in this city has been one fighting for acceptance from other road users. We are sounding awfully hypocritical.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Bingo!

Phil Richman
Subscriber

The scooters have bells so audible warnings should be unnecessary from experienced and courteous users.

PS
Guest
PS

They go 15 MPH, which is when the unintended get off is going to likely happen. Most people I know don’t do real well at the whole 0-15MPH instant sprint and would do well to have a helmet on.

JJJ
Guest

Going 15mph is a choice. You car can go 135mph (at least according to the speedometer), or you can hit 50mph going downhill on a standard bike. Both will kill you if something goes wrong.

Me? I dont get anywhere near those speeds.

Why should I put on safety equipment for a situation that won’t happen.

Sam Churchill
Guest

Seattle’s study of bike sharing program found that the 10,000 bikes from Spin, LimeBike, and Ofo were ridden 468,000 times, from July 2017 to Dec 2017.

Regarding Safety and Helmets:
• 5 reported collisions
• No reported serious injuries
• Only 24% reported using helmets
• Preliminary UW/Harborview Study:
• No increase in head injury risk with bike share

http://seattle.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=6282625&GUID=35E77DEF-C77F-45D3-9141-93263D6C5B4D

The survey found that most people using bike share are biking to transit or work directly, with very few using the bikes for exercise. Most users were between the ages of 25 and 44 and 62 percent of users were male, according to the survey.

– 74 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of the program, however 85 percent of comments received via phone and email were negative.
– The biggest complaints concerned poorly parked bikes, that the companies weren’t responsive and riders didn’t wear helmets.
– About a third of residents have tried the program, another third hasn’t tried it but is open to doing so and the final third is unwilling to give bike share a shot.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I’ve been using some time off to ride/walk a lot around SE Portland the last couple of days and I’ve seen many people really enjoying themselves. I’d rather see people who don’t know our streets very well on scooters than in cars. Though I haven’t ridden one yet, I’m glad they are here. I am curious about what will happen once the rain/cold gets here.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“I’d rather see people who don’t know our streets very well on scooters than in cars. ”

Sure,
but I would really like to understand if this is what is going on, what those on these scooters have done. Not every activity we see as we perambulate about the city is a substitution for a car trip. This kind of thinking is itself a form of Car Head.

Brian
Guest
Brian

So, survey them.

9watts
Guest
9watts

Easier said than done. There is no guarantee that those surveyed won’t answer strategically.

Brian
Guest
Brian

How else will you get the data you’d like to see?

9watts
Guest
9watts

There are many ways to investigate these questions, without relying only on user self-reporting. Ethnographic research comes to mind. Participant observation. Social scientific evidence methods abound. The point is to approach this mindful of the potential pitfalls that accompany certain lines of questioning.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I’m curious as to how ethnographic research you would conduct would yield more valid data than a 1:1 survey.

9watts
Subscriber

I’m not an ethnographer, but shooting from my social scientist’s hip I’d note that in a typical survey you hand someone a piece of paper or send them an email, which, if you’re lucky they answer. An ethnographic encounter presents opportunities to develop a fuller understanding of, in this case, the person’s travel behaviors, how they make decisions about modes, the circumstances of their lives, etc. This much more detailed picture makes strategic answers much less likely, and in any case obviates the need for the kind of general questions you might find on a survey.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I read this in a report from one of Jane Goodall’s field trip to Portland:

>>> They were a public menace, that much was clear. A certain kind of young man—the type who might bring a Wi-Fi-enabled water bottle to the climbing gym, say—could be spotted whirring atop them, bedecked in cargo shorts, carrying a selfie stick. <<<

Is this what you were thinking?

jeff
Guest
jeff

when it rains? easy? they’ll disappear.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

This is a really good piece, Jonathan. Thank you. Personally, I’m looking forward to using one of these devices to run an errand at lunch some day soon. The appeal of hopping on one of these in this heat wave to get across downtown without working up a sweat and locking up at my destination is appealing. I just signed up for Car2Go after retiring a family car for when I really need one and see this as another good way to extend my car-light way of getting around town.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

Ya know, this is exactly the same situation I could imagine myself using one of these scooters as well. I bike to and from work, but when I go out for lunch I stick to places I can walk to because I’d rather keep my bike (which is worth more than a cheap Chinese e-scooter) safely in secured parking, at least downtown.

I doubt e-scooters are going to replace cars, transit, OR bikes for getting to and from downtown – most people taking cars or transit are far enough out that taking an e-scooter would be cost prohibitive, and if you’re within your own biking range already it’s hard for a dockless rental to compete with having a guaranteed point-to-point vehicle like a personal bike.

Assuming there’s enough density, having a dockless e-scooter share like this means that people like me, who already try not to drive their cars into an already car-crowded downtown, have one more reason not to drive to work. Driving my car into downtown costs me $16.50 per instance after parking and my work’s bike commute bonus are considered, which might be worth it if I need to get across downtown anyway to run an errand. Biking in and then grabbing a scooter any time I need one is still going to be cheaper, so I might as well leave the car at home.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

I still find dockless Biketown to be faster than my personal bike in a lot of situations mostly because I have to give almost no thought as to where I am parking it in order to make sure it is not stolen or vandalized. Dockless Biketown is also way cheaper (practically free) than the scooter-sharing, but the scooter sharing sure seems more appealing on these hot days than riding any sort of non-e-assisted bike.

David Hampsten
Guest

I general I support seeing these devices such as scooters, ebikes, segways, etc. being used as long as they are replacing cars that would otherwise be on the street. But as soon as they start replacing bicycles, walking, and/or transit, then I fail to see any social benefit for having them.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

If they cannabalize other active transportation numbers without growing the number overall, that’s not bad but neutral; if it actually shrinks the number (not likely) that’s actually a bad thing. That said, if one bike rider is displaced with one scooter rider, that one scooter rider is probably still a bike rider in other contexts.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

And even if many people still get to work via car but run errands with these, that’s still a net good effect. More people will see the hassle-free value of not using their cars for short trips.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“If they cannabalize other active transportation numbers without growing the number overall, that’s not bad but neutral;”

I disagree. [bicycles, walking, and/or transit] don’t require newly stamped plastic from a Chinese factory, lithium mined in Chile, and juice from your local electric utility which, let’s not forget is not chiefly coming from wind turbines even as many of us would like to believe that. And although our current buses do burn diesel, they are part of an infrastructure that we, generally, believe to be important in its own right, not something we should be happy to trade away or erode with brand new brightly colored smart-phone-enabled objects.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Here for this.

Yet another example of capitalism and consumer culture run amok that people can’t even be bothered to bear the incredibly minor responsibility of owning and regularly using their own bicycle. I’m not opposed to people riding scooters, I’m opposed to the “Uberizing” of basic human activities.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

If anything, I think it’s better than neutral. The current competition for active transportation usage is, by definition, private cars or transit. Dockless scooters aren’t a new type of transportation, they’re in the same category as public transit – a parent organization manages the fleet, and allows anybody to use them on a demand basis, instead of users having to pay upfront purchase costs and maintenance.

Going further with that, they’re essentially a dedicated last-mile form of transit; while light rail excels at longer distances and is the least flexible, buses are somewhere in the middle, a dockless scooter is the most flexible and shortest distance component. Having a mesh network of short-distance transit vehicles just makes it easier for someone to decide to center their life around using public transit instead of private.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Scooters are “public transit” only in the same sense that Car2Go (or even Hertz) is. Uber and taxis are a closer fit (you are driven rather than drive yourself), but they are transit only in the most expansive sense of users not owning the vehicle.

I do agree, though, that more options are probably good, but those options also have to be dependable, and it remains to be seen if scooters will be. For the moment, I do not know if I’ll be able to get a scooter when I need one, and there are rarely any near where I am, so I can’t rely on them. Until I can, I will instead continue to use my private vehicle (aka my bike), which has demonstrated high reliability. And has the added bonus of being free.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I think scooters have zero potential to disrupt the status-quo, and I can’t imagine that, outside of wonk circles, anyone would be thinking about that at all.

Scooters do have the potential to add an element of chaos and disruption to an already stressful traffic situation, and it is all-too-easy to picture a carefree and potentially erratic scooter rider biffing or being involved in a crash with another vehicle. Hence, I suspect, the concern about helmets. That may pass in time.

Given the costs associated with keeping these devices charged and in good working order, I don’t see how they will be profitable over the long term. Therefore, I’m mostly thinking about their acute effects, like will that scooter rider please pass with more room, or why is the Bird I’m riding so anemic and slow?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

I agree. Plus, I just don’t like them.

And get off my lawn.

maxD
Guest
maxD

They seem like a useful addition to alternative transportation. I think having more options will entice more people to use the options. I am more inclined to take the MAX if there is a guarantee of finding a scooter, biketown or car2go to help me complete my trip.

Christi U
Guest
Christi U

I would much prefer to see tourists on scooters than in cars. Everyday I bike through downtown on my way home and have to be ultra cautious of the tourists turning right across bike lanes, turning the wrong way onto one way streets and parking without looking for bikes in the bike lanes.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Why do you think they’re tourists? I see plenty of residents doing these things (while I’m a passenger in their car).

Christi U
Guest
Christi U

Yesterday the license plate was British Columbia. The day before it was a rental.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Well, that explains it. Don’t Canadians drive on the other side of the street?

Toby Keith
Guest
Toby Keith

Not sure getting hit by someone going 15 mph on one of these is a trivial thing. And it WILL happen. I hope this isn’t one more thing peds have to dodge.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Once it starts getting dark earlier, what is the situation with front and rear lights on these scooters. I examined one today and it appeared that it might have small headlights a couple inches off the ground, but no visible tail-light. Does anyone know if the new scooter laws address this.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

That’s what the soon-to-be required reflective attire will be for.

Paul J Atkinson
Guest
Paul J Atkinson

I tried one out the other day. It was pretty fun!

At this point the thing I’m tiring of fastest are the articles / comments / letters / bloody skywriting probably that’s suggesting there must be a conflict between cyclists and scooter riders because we share bike lanes. It looks like a classic “hey, punk, let’s you and him fight” tactic. I’ve been pleased to see that sharing has not been a problem.

Also, seriously, try one out.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

David Hampsten
I general I support seeing these devices such as scooters, ebikes, segways, etc. being used as long as they are replacing cars that would otherwise be on the street. But as soon as they start replacing bicycles, walking, and/or transit, then I fail to see any social benefit for having them.Recommended 3

Ditto, David.

And JM is wrong about escoots being “…extremely efficient…” No battery-motor prime mover is anywhere near as efficient as human physiology. Please learn about GIbbs free energy.

Let me me know when one competes successfully in a stage race.

soren
Guest
soren

This is factually incorrect. Muscles have a metabolic efficiency of ~15-30% while electric motors have efficiencies as high as 95% range (depending on load).

9watts
Guest
9watts

But I can eat beans I grew myself with rainwater and compost and proceed to walk or bike anywhere, but my e-scooter isn’t going to get far on beans; it needs juice out of the wall, which still is mostly generated by burning stuff, disrupting salmon runs, and in any case needs some pretty elaborate and expensive infrastructure to transport the electrons from wherever the wind blows or the coal is burned to where my scooter is currently charging.
Efficiency is such a fraught concept. Everyone deploys it to show that their favorite thing wins, but in the real world it is not nearly so cut and dried, so easy.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Try bean juice. Might work.

soren
Guest
soren

I agree that efficiency is a fraught concept. I did not bring up efficiency.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Efficiency might be fraught, but bean juice seems pretty solid.

soren
Guest
soren

The vast majority of people in the USA eat enormous amounts of industrially-farmed beings. And, as you know, this source of calories is a major contributor to our ongoing and irreversible global tragedy of the commons.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

It would make an interesting calculation to compare the CO2 output of powering a bicycle with beef vs a car with gasoline when traveling, say, a mile. I’ll bet the bicycle would win, but by how much?

Matt
Guest
Matt

> industrially-farmed beings

*beans

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

“Extremely efficient” and “not as efficient as the human body” are not mutually exclusive. Regardless, as to the idea that I can grow my own food using compost and rain–sure. I can also produce my own electricity. The reality is that most people, even most those that are avid gardeners, get most of their calories from sources that consume lots of resources.

9watts
Subscriber

“The reality is that most people, even most those that are avid gardeners, get most of their calories from sources that consume lots of resources.”

That is true, but it won’t always be true, and the possibility will become increasingly important.

“I can also produce my own electricity.”

Yes you can, but to do so takes materials that don’t grow in your or my backyard, but are buried in Congo and Chile.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

A vast majority of our population will still need to import the vast majority of their calories from elsewhere, and growing them will require large inputs of energy. There’s just no other way to support our population.

9watts
Subscriber

Of course. Which is why our current population is also not long for this world.

Ryan Aslett
Guest
Ryan Aslett

Randomly, there was one outside of my house in NE portland, so I hopped on it and rode around the block.

My one complaint about them is that you lack any safe way to signal intent, short of shouting “Im turning right” or something. You definitely do not want to try to ride these one handed and use hand signals, and there’s no signaling switches etc on the scooters themselves.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

So you’re saying you have to operate them the same way most drivers operate their cars while executing turns?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Yes — scooter riders should sit while turning.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I am going to go out on a limb and predict some of the unintended consequences of this electric scooter revolution. 1) The power companies will experience a growing number of utility service defaults from the “night chargers” underestimating how big an electrical bill they will create for themselves, these will be called “Juicer Disconnects”. 2) more than a few Juicers will burn down their domiciles due to charging induced battery fires ( see you tube for scary footage of this in China), first responders will become wary of these due to the danger of burning lithium batteries and will view the “juicer dens” like the Meth Labs of old. 3) During the wet months fully charged scooters will be hard to find as no one will want to trash their car or house carrying wet, gunk encrusted scooters around to charge them. 4) We will begin seeing covenants on apartment rentals to the effect of ” no juicers”. Remember you heard it here first.

X
Guest
X

There’s been no rash of problems from people charging their cars, and a car charger draws a lot more power. Granted, people are more likely to have a professional install a circuit for their car charger. “Juicers” probably don’t go to that trouble and expense.

I’m out on a limb waiting for the first brownout attributed to car charging. Apparently plug-in electric cars aren’t really a thing yet.

Another commenter mentioned winter (it’s coming!) I imagine that cold, wet, poor traction, and gravel on the pavement are going to be much harder on scooters than on rental bikes. I really doubt if they are built to operate reliably in winter conditions. Perhaps we’ll spend some of the Scooter Bucks on snow removal from bike lanes. Emoji.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Electric Cars with Lithium Batteries have more sophisticated on-board charge controllers to prevent the over heating, this is not true of scooters. There are legions of videos on you tube showing these scooters catching on fire in peoples living rooms while they charge them.

X
Guest
X

Seems like a few such incidents would lead to some regulation. I haven’t seen these videos, taking your word for it at the moment, but what’s catching fire, the scooter, the cord, a power strip, or installed wiring?

This sort of thing is one of the flaws of currently fashionable business models.

X
Guest
X

I didn’t find any fires associated with home charging of commercial scooters but that doesn’t mean they won’t happen after a few more charging cycles. For a comparison I looked for “gas lawn mower fires.” It turns out there are a lot of ways for gas mowers to catch fire.

Poor quality batteries seem to be implicated in some battery fires. We’ll only know there are defects when something starts smoking. I wouldn’t be happy if somebody in my building was charging scooters. Fortunately one thing we have in Portland is lots of fire trucks.

Chris
Guest
Chris

I was reading about the electric cost and based on Los Angeles rates, about 7 cents per scooter to charge. If you were very active and did 10 scooters a day, every day, about $20 a month additional electricity and you’d bring in at least $2k from the scooter company.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

Cyclists have very little dedicated space in Portland. We are either sharing space with cars (Neighborhood Greenways) or pedestrians (multi-use paths). The few bike lanes we have are still not great (door zone, right/left hook potential). There are maybe 10 miles of truly dedicated cycling infrastructure. The problem with these scooters is now having to share space with yet another vehicle. We are essentially given the leftovers stuck to the bottom of the proverbial dish, so having to share what very little space we get with electric scooters is simply maddening. Considering PBOT is a month away from yet again removing Better Naito I am simply frustrated with having to give up even more of my space. I was just starting to tolerate e-bikes, and now there are even more motorized vehicles in the bike lanes to worry about.

And before someone uses the classic whataboutism “but cars!” argument – I can make the same exact complaints about cars and that doesn’t detract from the real issues with these scooters. If the city actually removed parking to store the scooters in the street, then great, I would fully support that. But I don’t really see that happening and in the mean time, a single scooter can block most of a typical four-foot Portland sidewalk.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Considering these scooters keep pace with most riders (if not slightly faster than an average rider), I don’t see how these are not very similar to sharing the lane with other cyclists. If our lanes get overcrowded, what a wonderful problem to have — like Jonathan suggests, it will add more interest and muscle to getting more infrastructure for active transportation put in around town.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

You can easily sustain 15 mph, even on the uphills? Because I certainly cannot.

Zoomzit
Guest
Zoomzit

When I rode a scooter the other day I noticed that I could accelerate faster by bike than I could on the scooter, my top speed is faster on the bike and my climbing speed (even over a long climb) is faster by bike.

Whatever the concerns are for scooters colliding with peds or other bicyclists, I don’t think it is any greater than the risks that bikes possess.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Sounds like you were riding a Bird!

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

“You can easily sustain 15 mph, even on the uphills? Because I certainly cannot.”

I can easily sustain 15+ mph anywhere that isn’t uphill. So, sometimes I’ll pass the scooters. Sometimes they’ll pass me if I’m going uphill. We’ll pass each other by coming out of the bike lane (or sharing a regular roadway) just like people do on bikes every day. So what’s your point? I’m really confused by what your beef is with a faster, low-mass vehicle. I’d rather be passed by a Lime than an SUV on a greenway.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

it will add more interest and muscle to getting more infrastructure for active transportation

I don’t buy that argument. The exact same thing was said when Biketown launched and we have yet to see any new infrastructure built because of it.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I don’t understand the use of “active” transportation seeing that the only active thing going on with a scooter user is a twist of the wrist. The same motion I use to turn my tv on and off.

X
Guest
X

It’s not aerobic but it takes a kick or two to start them and then there’s the balance and coordination required. Having a motor seems like a cheat to me, too, but an e-bike or scooter still requires grace, skill, and courage in a way that a car does not.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Totally agree. I mean, the two things society needs more of is less walking and more energy drinks.

Clicky Freewheel
Guest
Clicky Freewheel

Just to be clear here – it is the motor and throttle that primarily concerns me. I have no problem sharing cycling paths with non-motorized vehicles such as skateboards, kick-scooters, recumbents, etc. that have similar acceleration and top speeds as a bicycle. Anything that can quickly accelerate to 25 mph with a throttle should not be in the bike lane or bike path.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

I bet you I could beat any of those shared scooters from a light from 0 to 25 mph with my summer bike — I’ve seen them accelerating and they’re pretty slow. I’m faster than most cars when the light turns green all the way through the intersection. Are you going to kick me out of the bike lane now? And considering that they’re limited to 20 mph, again, they’re slower than a lot of riders.

Daniel
Guest
Daniel

My understanding is that the top speed you can achieve on these with pure motor assist is 15mph, and from watching them move it looks like the acceleration profile is pretty similar to a reasonably fit bike commuter.

Christi U
Guest
Christi U

I had to assist the Bird I used up hill to SE 23rd & Ankeny. No way to get it to 10 even on the flat.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I think a top speed of 7.5mph would be great to match the lack of any enforcement and loads of ignorance by the users.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

The Birds are suchly limited. You might like them.

Byron
Guest
Byron

I have ridden a Lime a few times. First, it does not go 25mph unless you are going downhill, something they say you shouldn’t. Second, it does not accelerate that quickly. It is actually a little sluggish which I think is a good thing. I can accelerate faster with my bike. As for going uphill, going up Broadway I was going 4mph on the big hill before Jefferson so they are not speed demons.

Risk analysis should be used instead of screaming about the dangers without knowing what you are talking about. A scooter is moving fast so when you hit someone with one it is going to hurt somewhat. A little less than a bicyclist hitting someone or very similar. But the biggest risk out there is that 1-2 ton piece of metal called a motor vehicle that goes 130mph, accelerates very rapidly, has poor visibility, and is being driven by clueless wonders. Those are really going to hurt.

I have been hit by a bicycle and had no problems. I have been run into by pedestrians and have not had any injury. But I have been hit by a car, at slow speed, and it does hurt. Also the amount of energy for a car, both in manufacture and in use, is so much greater than a bicycle or scooter that it is ridiculous to talk about them. As for fire danger, there is fire danger in the electric that we have in our home yet I don’t see anyone advocating the removal of electricity from our lives. At one time there was an argument against it but that has died down. There have been a few problems with charging but those are so small and infrequent that they merit attention whereas the deaths caused by cars and trucks are so common that we hardly notice the carnage.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Luckily, cars are not generally operated on the sidewalks, instead being constrained to well defined areas. Limes not so much. So while the greater destructive potential of a car is undeniable, the risk profiles are quite different. When I’m walking on the sidewalk, I don’t worry about a car silently buzzing me from behind. And even if the threat of death from a scooter crash is quite low, I don’t want to have to worry about being hit when I’m on the sidewalk — I just want to relax and enjoy my walk.

I am NOT saying I would prefer people drive rather than scoot, only that I understand why otherwise right-thinking people might dislike this new entrant to our transportation landscape.

Especially that slow, pokey winged brand that is hardly faster than walking.

X
Guest
X

Totally disagree. The problem with bike lanes in most places is that there are too few people using them. People abuse them because they’re seen as a void, a good place to unload a truck or park an Uber. Scooters seem unserious, somehow, which is exactly how people in cars feel about people on bikes. It’s a mistake for bike riders to “other” scooter riders. Joyriders, tourists, tech bros, I don’t care what, they’re our natural allies.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

It does seem odd the people who advocate for safer streets and infrastructure don’t do everything they can for their personnel safety. It reminds me of a construction worker who doesn’t wear PPE. Yeah, the PPE may not save your life in every circumstance but it sure as h*ll would mitigate some risk.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Who specifically are you referring to?

Doug hecker
Guest
Doug hecker

The ease at which we bypass the lack of a helmet.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I see… you are calling out the apparent hypocrisy of one person saying one thing and another person doing something different.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

It makes little sense for bike advocates to scream about public safety upgrades when they themselves are unwilling to promote personal safety strategies.

q
Guest
q

Why?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I don’t mind ala carte dining options when out on date but sounds stupid when it comes to safety options and infrastructure.

q
Guest
q

I don’t mind the “a la carte” approach. If I wear a helmet (even assuming it makes me safer) it doesn’t make anyone else safer. And if someone doesn’t want to tell other people to say, wear a helmet, that’s fine with me.

If I’m trying to get a stop sign installed, or a bike lane put in, it’ll be just as helpful to me to get support from people who don’t wear helmets (or even from people who drive everywhere) as from helmet wearers.

And if I do want to lobby for a stop sign or bike lane, it shouldn’t matter whether I wear a helmet, or eat too much sugar, or smoke, or anything else.

If a construction worker wants to raise a stink about a construction project that isn’t following asbestos rules, the validity of his position isn’t changed if he doesn’t wear a helmet.

soren
Guest
soren

So true, Doug.
In fact, every day I pass cars occupied by people not wearing helmets.
Don’t they know that around half of traumatic brain injuries are associated with driving?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Ahhh, pushing personal responsibility on to someone else. I’m glad my parents taught me better. I work with people who frequently have traumatic brain injuries and I wouldn’t wish those on anyone but do whatever it is you please.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

I also work with people with TBIs, and use a helmet while in the city. While I wouldn’t dissuade someone from using a helmet while on a bike, the data for safety is not supported by clear convergence of evidence. When protected bike lanes get installed, crashes and their consequent injuries go down dramatically. Not because people are wearing helmets, but because they are physically protected by large moving metal things.

https://brooklynspoke.com/2016/05/05/helmets-and-vision-zero-go-together-like-helmets-and-vision-zero/

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

“Puts the onus on the victim..” that’s when I stop reading because it doesn’t make sense. that’s like saying a construction working shouldn’t wear a helmet on the job site. Yeah, it may not save his life if a wrecking ball from a crane hits him, but it could if something falls on him. Yes, a helmet is a specialized tool that does a specialized duty. No one is saying that it is the end all be all as far as safety is concerned. If the onus was truly on the cyclist then we would probably see people riding around in their costume that they got from the renaissance fair. Also, where are the protected bike lanes that you speak of? I don’t see them. I also don’t see them in brochures that include cement but rather plastic. So yes, the city/ government can do whatever it likes based off of something in Sweden, but I’ll ad whatever meaningless percentage of benefit from a helmet to hopefully keep my brain for whatever accident I experience including but not limited to, someone on a scooter who blows a stop sign on the greenway that I’m riding on.

Oh, hey Soren

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“[T]hat’s like saying a construction working shouldn’t wear a helmet on the job site. ”

Well, is it like saying a pedestrian shouldn’t wear a helmet while crossing the street? Is it like saying kids shouldn’t wear bullet-proof vests to school? Is it like saying bus riders shouldn’t wear helmets while waiting in a bus shelter on the sidewalk?

There are two axes of discussion here: whose risk of head injury could be reduced by wearing a helmet, and why do we make a bigger deal of insisting that one group wear helmets while not caring about others? I tend to think that at all but top speed (15 mph) just about anyone could bail off of a scooter and stay on their feet much more easily than from a bicycle, electric or not. In that sense, the all-ages helmet law for scooters makes none.

soren
Guest
soren

Why on earth are you so resistant to wearing a helmet then? There is a reason that all professional sport drivers where helmets!

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Can you argue that cars do not have other personal safety devices in place, such as seat belts and air bags?

q
Guest
q

But in another comment you said ala carte approaches to safety are stupid, or something to that effect. So is that only true for biking but not driving?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Q, not quite sure what you mean about auto users and their safety measures because I really haven’t gone out of my way to address cars. I’ll hop back into the conversation when you’re ready to avoid the rabbit trails.

q
Guest
q

Sorry, I got you and Middle of the Road guy mixed up, so ignore my comment.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

I know a ton of people who choose to drive for their personal safety. If I were doing everything I can I’d probably choose to do the same until things changed.

Al
Guest
Al

“That means about 800 of them are in the Central City, with the rest east of I-205 (at least in theory).”

I saw a tech setting up three new scooters in downtown Gresham earlier this week so apparently, the service area is quite large.

What is the policy / rule / etiquette / law about taking these on TriMet buses or Max?

mark
Guest
mark

They are not allowed on buses or MAX.

Martha Van Dyke
Guest
Martha Van Dyke

I am a 75 year old woman walking slow and a bit unsteady on downtown streets. I have so far objected to segways barreling up and down the sidewalk. And now I get to experience scooters doing the same. When I step in-front of them and say they are not legal on on sidewalks, the riders just smile and keep speeding on the sidewalk. They are obviously joyriding and don’t want to worry about autos which I can understand but motors belong on the street. Not where folks are walking. Get the autos off the street then there will be room for all the alternatives.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

I am a 75 year old woman walking slow and a bit unsteady on downtown streets. … When I step in-front of them and say they are not legal on on sidewalks …

So you’re worried about your physical faculties and then you attempt to deliberately blockade them on the sidewalk. Something does not compute.

I don’t disagree that they shouldn’t be anywhere bikes are prohibited (e.g., downtown sidewalks), but what are you doing playing the role of bully enforcement here if you’re so worried about your unsteadiness?

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

You have an odd interpretation of bully.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Somebody jumping in front of someone’s path deliberately to disrupt them, regardless of their conveyance is hardly non-confrontational.

BikeRound
Guest
BikeRound

Your point is completely irrelevant. All of us need to follow all of the laws 100% of the time. Where exactly do Americans get this idea that somehow following the law is optional?

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Ha ha ha. I love dry humor.

Ben
Guest
Ben

The Boston Tea Party, John Brown, MLK….

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

…db on scooter.

soren
Guest
soren

Violating unnecessary and/or unjust laws not only can lead to needed reforms, but is also fun.

You should try it some time!

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I like this idea. Where should I begin to practice this idea? Those orange signs PBOT has been giving away are a real eyesore. What would you recommend I do about them?

soren
Guest
soren

Sadly, it’s not at all surprising that a safety nanny is offended by signs urging drivers to drive at speeds where they are less likely to severely injure or kill their friends, family, or fellow PDX residents.

Safety nannie-ism is, for the most part, concern trolling.

Doug hecker
Guest
Doug hecker

Speed signs and enforcement of the actual signs is probably what you’re sadly overlooking. An orange sign doesn’t actually do anything. Probably much less than what a helmet offers a scooter rider.

As far as your reach for a troll comment… it made me chuckle. Just like the time I saw you literally throw a fit at the PBOT Lincoln Open House, but hey, maybe disorderly conduct will lead to reform?

soren
Guest
soren

“Just like the time I saw you literally throw a fit at the PBOT Lincoln Open House”

Oh please do tell!

How was I throwing a “fit”?
What was the “fit” about?
And who was the recipient of this “fit”?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Soren?

X
Guest
X

Well John, if you find someday that you have in fact gotten old, does that mean you are going to stop asserting yourself?

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

I totally agree that scooters are bad for sidewalks. The only way to get people to not scoot on the sidewalk will be to installbcomfortable, smooth protected bike & scooter lanes on each street people want to use.

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

The only way? Surely you don’t believe this.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

There are other ways… scoooters could be banned, for example.

Of course, I think there are less extreme solutions.

Mark Reber
Guest
Mark Reber

That is not nearly the only way and one that involves enormous cultural, political, and societal change. To start, enforcement of the code would help. But, a total ban, as San Francisco has apparently done, is certainly a complete solution.

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Thanks for this post – lots of useful thoughts.

I hope you’re right about the Segway parallel. But I think there’s a big difference between a company that sells a product to provate citizens (for thousands of dollars) and one that just sets its product on the street for a couple bucks per ride. With the first model, it’s going to be a pretty small issue and the only folks with strong feelings are likely to be Segway owners and sellers. With the second model, there’s a lot more potential for rapid change. But every change feels to someone like a cost.

More people are going to feel strongly about this subject than about Segways. That’s the whole reason this is important, but I think it makes the politics more complicated.

q
Guest
q

People joke about Segways, but they still have a certain mystique. Often in conversation, usually when someone changes the subject, someone will blurt out “Nice Segway!” even if nobody’s riding one anywhere in sight.

mh
Subscriber

(giggle) (snort)

soren
Guest
soren

That’s the same reaction the driving majority has to people using an e-bike.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

The lack of a reply bottom on our other thread is missing but anywho, you don’t recall stomping up the stairs at Atkinson on the cold Novermber night last fall and screaming at Roger Geller that you were going to file a complaint against PBOT for what you perceived was an “inequitable” discussion? Roger then replied something to the tune of “how would you do that if the community took over the open house and shared with us what they thought?” I then tried to ask a question and then was cut off by your persistence. When I was eventually able to ask Roger a question it seemed like he was drained from your full court press and was given some generic answer about diverters. What I saw and experienced was someone throwing a fit.

But good thing for you since the Open Houses don’t seem to mean much when PBOT already has their mind made up so kudos to you.

soren
Guest
soren

“screaming at Roger Geller”

This is untrue and can be settled by having you join me in an email conversation with Roger where we both ask him whether I “screamed” at him. My email is sorenimpey@yahoo.com.
I’ll post here to let people know whether you are willing to back up your claim.

Also, multiple accounts of attendees (including mine) suggest that it was opponents of a more comfortable and safer Neighborhood Greenway that were acting in a rude manner:

https://bikeportland.org/2017/12/05/reports-pbots-lincoln-harrison-greenway-meeting-goes-off-the-rails-258800

“Open Houses don’t seem to mean much when PBOT already has their mind made up so kudos to you.”

It’s almost as if you are a sore loser.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I would love to join in on a email with you and Roger.

But yes, hearing you yell at Roger about some sort of odd act of inequity on PBOT’s side was wild considering that the project was essentially done and moving forward. So whether you think that I am a sore loser, which is fine, I’d call it redundant safety nannie-ism because really, how much “safer” can Lincoln actually be? But, if there is a platform for you to yell on then I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity, sadly on that night, it came at Roger’s expense.

soren
Guest
soren

I will note here that you have failed to follow with me by email. I don’t expect you too because, I know very well that I did not yell at Roger. I was, however, very rudely interrupted by opponents of bike facilities multiple times *as were many others).

Multiple similar accounts of the abusive behavior of Neighborhood Greenway opponents were documented here: https://bikeportland.org/2017/12/05/reports-pbots-lincoln-harrison-greenway-meeting-goes-off-the-rails-258800#comment-6929475

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Welcome to Scooterportland.org!

Bamdwagon – jump.

q
Guest
q

Are bandwagons allowed in bike lanes or on buses?

JeffS
Guest
JeffS

Same bandwagon. Anti-car. Pro bike lane.
Give it a sec and social justice will work it’s way in and the triumvirate will be complete.

Buttw0rm
Guest
Buttw0rm

So much disdain for scooters around here! This is a pilot program after all. If it’s as terrible as everyone seems to make them out to be, make your voice heard. I’d be curious to know what constitutes a successful pilot program in the eyes of the city.
Is the hatred because they’re motorized? Would the hatred be less if people using them would otherwise be driving a car alone and the scooters allow them to complete a trip?

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

I’ve ridden all three scooters out there, and I think they’re kind of fun. Except for the slow lame one from a company I will not mention. I think they fill a niche.

However, I am highly skeptical that more than a handful of car trips are being replaced by scooter rides. So sure, it’s better if people are riding scooters then driving their cars (probably). But I don’t think that happens often enough to be a major consideration.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Right. Are they replacing a car or simply a walk?

skithetrees
Guest
skithetrees

For me, I’ll only consider using a bike share or an e-scooter if the distance is far enough that I can’t walk there in an equal amount of time.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

That seems to be the status quo statement— “well, would you rather them in a car?!?” Is that really the case? Who’s to say that those using the scooter weren’t using bike town, the bus, or walking?

9watts
Guest
9watts

“So much disdain for scooters around here!”

I hope you can appreciate the difference between disdain for scooters (which ’tis true is evident in these comments) and disdain for the boosterism that has accompanied their launch. I think we would do well not to lump these two together, and there may be other critiques in amongst these comments. I’ve not read all the way through yet.

The same confusion reigns in the e-bike comments. Anyone voicing objections or asking questions is flamed as a hater. We can and should do better. Where’s the fun in having a conversation where all we do is join the chorus?

Bigwheel
Guest
Bigwheel

I witnessed a couple of guys on scooters freshly logged into on 26th and Thurman the other day. They went down the hill at top speed and ran the stop sign right away.

Personally I mainly see these things as most harmful to the rider if they are idiots as observed. However there are other things going on within the traffic infrastructure as already noted that has the possibility of involving others with your idiocy.

I’m sure there will be plenty of responsible users but the old bad apple rule seems to always apply and will just bring more bad feelings from the other users, some of who have nothing but time on their hands to gripe about it.

Jim Lee
Guest
Jim Lee

The whole Segway business is fascinating. Seeing one hauntingly reminds me of the eerie floating “Gentlemen” in the Buffy episode “Hush.”

The extremely strange inventor Dean Kamen tried to replace as much human functionality as possible, succeeding with batteries and motors for propulsion, gyroscopes and accelerometers for dynamic balance.

The result was an ergonomic monstrosity. One must stand, fixed for substantial periods of time, stressing bones, muscles, tendons in wholly unnatural ways. The astoundingly complex human sense of balance, interplay between eyesight, semicircular canals in the ear, and the autonomic array of sensors, nerves, muscles that shift forces between left and right feet and legs to enable our bipedal gait, is nearly defeated.

The bicycle is an ergonomic marvel, centered about provision of a place to sit, so freeing the huge muscles of our legs to propel us along. (Note: our lower musculature can generate as much torque as the engine of large motorcycle or a small car.) With modest practice a child progresses from trike–no dynamic balance required–to a full on two-wheeler–its intricate interplay of countersteering , weight shift, pedaling producing directed, controlled, efficient, fast forward motion from point A to point B, distance between A and B being anything from several yards to a hundred miles.

No other machine can or ever will prove superior.

Had Charles Darwin known the bicycle he might have argued that homo sapiens sapiens had “evolved” to utilize it, only to be corrected by Alfred Russel Wallace. Clearly the bicycle is a product of “intelligent design.”

X
Guest
X

I thought this blog was for splitting hairs over bikes and transportation? Maybe Wallace got screwed somehow. He doesn’t appear in very many “Far Side” panels for instance. It’s great to have intellectual rigor about things like evolution, but aren’t Darwin and Wallace actually dead?

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I have been pretty disappointed with the lack of availability in the Cully neighborhood. The permit process made it seem like we would definately get some but they all appear to be getting placed over at gateway so I have yet to see one in Cully. The city needs to do more to require better coverage of the whole city after the pilot program is complete IMHO.

Phillip Ross
Guest
Phillip Ross

This article (link below) reframes the scooter debate (it’s not about helmet safety – it’s about making streets safe for all road users) and includes historical context (what’s old is new again) by showing how how things have changed on the street since scooters were used in San Francisco pre 1906 and how new technology can usher in a transit revolution despite the car dominated mindset of DOT planners and elected officials but only if we get smart and use tech to make it easy to make our voices heard.
https://www.curbed.com/word-on-the-street/2018/7/13/17246060/scooters-uber-lyft-bird-lime-streets

Mark Reber
Guest
Mark Reber

My 72 year-old wife was nearly struck on a city sidewalk along SE Division an hour ago. The Lime scooter rider was traveling at a fairly high rate of speed. I couldn’t care less that he was not wearing a helmet. But, he flew past us coming within inches of hitting us and didn’t bother to stop. I hardly see these users as allies in improving our transportation system.

Jen
Guest
Jen

If they had a safe bike/scooter lane to ride in, they wouldn’t have been on the sidewalk.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

On Division? Even if you removed a full lane of traffic, I don’t think you could create room for two legal modern bike lanes. And you would still need room for the buses. What you are asking for is impossible on any practical level.

The sidewalks on Division are simply too narrow for scooters. Your convenience does not trump my safety. The only way to ride scooters on Division is to take the lane.

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

The OP doesn’t say where on division they were but on any part of division with a speed limit over 25mph and no bike lanes it is just as illegal to ride the scooter in the vehicle lane as it is on the sidewalk.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

Why do you claim that it’s illegal to be in the vehicle lane? It is not a freeway. It’s perfectly legal to be there.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

There are so few scooters out past where Division becomes a 4-lane street that I think it safe to assume they are describing Inner Division.

Charlie
Guest
Charlie

First thought: these things are fun! I don’t know whether they’ll save CO2 emission or encourage non-car transportation, or whatever, but they are definitely fun to ride, especially on a nice day like today. Sometimes it’s ok to just have things for fun, without a larger purpose.

Second thought: they are kind of annoying when you’re walking. They’re not super fast, but they’re a lot faster than a walker or jogger, and quiet too so with downtown noise they can startle you. They make you sign an agreement to not use them on the sidewalk, but lots of people do anyway. And I can sympathize with that.

Third thought: Like Jonathan mentioned, there’s not enough of them. Just finding two, reasonable close together and charged, turned out to be a challenge. Two of them disappeared while we were walking towards them, there’s no way to “reserve” them. As it is, I wouldn’t want to have to rely on this to get anywhere at a specific time.

Fourth thought: Like always, I mostly just think “what a world it would be if we had more car-free streets”. Instead we have two full lanes (24 feet) that are *mainly* for cars, while everything else has to fight over 3 or 4 feet of sidewalk space. That includes walkers, joggers, skateboarders, some bikers, wheelchairs, segways, restaurant tables, advertising placards, polls, doors opening, smokers standing around smoking, homeless people lying down, and now these scooters are just one more into the mix. Sometimes it feels like sidewalks are the only real “public commons”, and they are just not enough.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Sometimes it’s ok to just have things for fun, without a larger purpose.”

This is what gives me pause.
The moment we find ourselves in is ours to seize. I like fun as much as the next person, but this is fun manufactured on the hard labor of people around the world digging up the minerals, stamping out plastic parts, sifting through the toxic waste our throwaway society generates at ever faster rates, not to mention the poorer people in our own country who live ‘downwind’ of our electricity generating infrastructure (yes I know I’m typing this on a laptop plugged into the wall outlet).

This kind of fun generates real costs for real people, and it troubles me how few commenters here seem aware of the specific costs of rolling out product fleets of such material complexity and (I am going to assume) short life spans.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

I don’t mind e-scooters. I’m even be okay with them on the sidewalk if operated at a walking pace. I do mind the operator of the one that buzzed by me on the sidewalk out here in St. Johns doing at least twice my walking pace. I suppose what I’m saying is I agree with Jonathan that the laws regarding them needs revising, but I also think that without some sort of incentive to keep folks legal, we’re going to see a lot more chaos and conflict in the near term.

I also think the company that operates this system needs to spend more effort educating their user community. I don’t know if that will do much good, but at the moment, it looks like a liability suit in the brewing.

Stph

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

Joggers go by me at twice my walking pace. I don’t mean to minimize the concern you report–I have seen and expect to see plenty of bad behavior from these road users, just like all the others. On the other hand, I do think it’s possible to safely pass someone on the sidewalk at 7 m (they may have not done so, in this instancebut it is definitely possible.).

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Joggers have much more agility than scooters, and even then sometimes there are problems when sidewalks are congested or constricted.

Of course it’s possible for a scooter to pass pedestrians without issue, just as it’s possible to drive 100MPH on Hawthorne without causing injury. But the risk increases, and sooner or later, something bad is going to happen.

Stephen Keller
Guest
Stephen Keller

To be fair, it was the closeness with which he passed by me rather than his speed that was concerning.

Mark smith
Guest
Mark smith

We have been out maneuvered by silicon valley. By e scooters and ebikes. They have all the cash and all the influence. Might as well join up. They want more bike Lanes and so do we. Might as well get cozy.

Kittens
Subscriber
Kittens

My only concern is that as they become more prevalent, they will inevitably clog up things.

Just like when cars first became popular. Then learned largely how to corral them and mange herds of them pretty effectively. Not so easy with scooters. No way to signal. No parking areas. No way to make anyone accountable and worst of all, they are mainly for tourists and leisure which doesn’t solve any of Portland’s transportation issues.

soren
Guest
soren

There are far more bikes “clogging” things up than kick-scooters.

This is a good problem to have!

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

“clog up things”.

If by “things” you mean the teeny tiny slivers of pavement where scooter riders, pedestrians, skateboarders, and bicyclists are expected to operate and park “out of the way” of cars—cars, which due to their top priority status, must have ~400 square feet per passenger (operator-only, in most cases) of road space for travel and ~160 square feet per passenger for parking—then you’re probably right.

The basic problem you are seeing/imagining is that given the laziness of humans, alternative transportation modes like e-bikes and scooters will be used to replace walking trips rather than car trips. As a typical American, the lazier I can be, the better. If I can speed up my trip or make it more comfortable, that’s what I’ll do. In the case of car trips, that almost always means staying in my car, since there’s almost nothing easier and faster (alternatives might be faster, but not easier, which is usually the top priority of the lazy). The real potential for scooters is to make walking easier/faster/unnecessary, not replace car trips. We would have to make car trips vastly harder/slower/prohibitively expensive before alternatives would start to look like viable replacements—unless we made viable replacements vastly easier/faster.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I’ll restate my earlier comment, which apparently got moderated away. Essentially, my point was that if scooters replace non-motorized trips (because they are seen as a better alternative to walking than they are to driving), and if non-auto travelers are expected to keep to small slivers of pavement so as to be “out of the way” of cars, then yes—it’s easy for the tiny slivers to get “clogged up”. I would think that if we really wanted things like this to work, we would make the same accommodations that we started making for cars back in 1920—and maybe we will if things get “clogged up” enough. More likely, though, is that scooters will be introduced without any accommodation at all, such lack of accommodation will encourage a free-for-all, and then people can either point out what an utter failure they are, or they will fall into disuse because it’s so difficult to use them in any kind of legal fashion.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Making accomodation for new forms of transportation is much easier when your city is less developed. It will take something much more compelling than scooters to make it happen now. It woud need to be something at least as relatively compelling to autos as cars were to the available alternatives 100 years ago.

Robot cars might be that thing. If not, we’re probably stuck with something approaching the status quo for another lifetime.

soren
Guest
soren

I’m fairly certain that there will be nothing status quo about the next few decades.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

We’ll see. We’re pretty good at driving right over the cliff.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

We were also supposed to be out of oil by now.

9watts
Subscriber

We’re out of free atmosphere, which is arguably much worse then running out of (affordable) oil, which will occur in our lifetimes.
The Limits To Growth study which predicted much of this back in 1972 has been found to be pretty much on track.
So your glib dismissal misses its mark, just a bit.

nomad
Guest
nomad

My biggest concern is the segment of healthy and capable people eating plenty of calories (fuel) to burn up on a bike, but lazily opting to add more carbon by using electricity. Humans are fantastic machines and are happier when moving our bodies.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

I don’t mind ala carte dining options when out on date but sounds stupid when it comes to safety options and infrastructure.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Any Bird scooters strategically placed out on Nike campus? Because there was one cruising down Murray in Beaverton yesterday. Assuming it was MAX’d.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Slightly off-topic, but there is a new TV ad for electric bike rentals in Bend. It focuses on the electric bike rider’s experience and him talking about ‘having a big smile on his face’, while he passes all those regular cyclists, ‘none of whom are smiling’. Hmmmm?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

It’s because the e-bike rider was high.

Andy K
Guest
Andy K

I love the scooters and hope they’re here to stay. Like with bikes, I’m not worried about scooterers hurting other people. Injury crashes to others will be rare. However, for your own safety I strongly recommend test riding them on flat ground away from people and cars before going full out. At 10-15mph on flat ground they are a cinch but on hills they will travel faster and in my opinion handle nothing like a bike. The safe stopping distance feels much longer to me.

Lidwien R.
Guest
Lidwien R.

Has anybody mentioned the issue of where the e-scooters are parked? I’ve been seeing them haphazardly thrown on the sidewalk in what is supposed to be the pedestrian clear zone. I am also concerned about the speed differential between walkers and e-scooters (as well as bicycles) on shared/multi-use paths. By the way, Jonathan, not all multi-use paths were paid for with transportation dollars, and definitely not those inside parks, unless they have a clear transportation function as part of a longer corridor.

John Lascurettes
Subscriber

No, I haven’t seen anyone complain about this before.

/s

PS
Guest
PS

I would not be bashful about “reparking” them. They aren’t super light, but at 30 lbs, they aren’t such that it is tough getting them in a dumpster.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Why not just gently repark them in an on-street spot?

q
Guest
q

One appeared in my neighborhood dropped in a planter in front of a business’s sign. There’s really no good place to move it to nearby. I reported it today on the skipscooters website. If they don’t pick it up soon, it’s not going to win a lot of support for scooters, given that’s the first I’ve seen on the streets around here.

Martha Van Dyke
Guest
Martha Van Dyke

https://pricetags.ca/2018/08/08/urbanist-abroad-new-york-city/
please read the piece “what can Vancouver learn from London’s congestion charges”