Sorry to break the news to all the local journalists and civic pundits who are desperate for juicy scooter headlines; but so far the predicted scooterpocalypse has not materialized.
We’re almost three weeks into the City of Portland’s electric scooter pilot program and things seems to be going very smoothly. The injuries and deaths many predicted would befall reckless scooter operators haven’t happened. And the sidewalk obstructions and right-of-way issues appear to be no worse than before the scooters got here. Yes, there have been some immature people who’ve destroyed a few of them and we hear there are people downtown stripping them for parts, but those are expected outliers and not a really big deal.
On the flip side, the scooters have given thousands of people a new mobility option — a way to get around that is a million times better for our city than using a car or truck.
In the first two weeks of the program there were 47,836 trips taken on the e-scooters. That’s a massive number! Based on only about 500 scooters in the field, that’s about six rides per scooter per day. By comparison, Biketown had 29,284 trips on 1,000 bikes in its first two weeks. Now we’ve got three companies (Bird, Lime, and Skip) operating over 2,000 scooters citywide.
People who tried to make scooters the new bogeyman (after a temporary hiatus from punching at bikes) must be feeling very disappointed. It’s almost as if many peoples’ dire proclamations like “Someone is going to die!” and “Those things are terrible!” were based on their own projections and fears about something new and different.
What accounts for this contrast between what many expected/hoped would happen versus what has actually happened?
I chalk it up in part to local culture and good government.
Portland is not San Francisco. New and different things are welcome here. It’s what makes this place great. When it comes to streets and transportation, Portlanders in general have a lot of respect for new and different (aka non-car) options than residents of many other cities. Despite not being as bold as I think we should be, Portland still has more daily bicycle riders than any other big city in America and we are making steady progress in constricting car use. We also have a healthy transit system and a culture of proximity which makes it possible for many people to lead low-car lives.
PBOT deserves credit too. In case you haven’t noticed, PBOT is really good at transportation policy (thanks in large part to a very healthy ecosystem of activists prodding them along). Sightline just lauded them for the best parking policy in the nation. Just like with Biketown (which also has had nary a controversy in its two-year history), our City planners waited and researched before jumping into this. The result was a set of sound and sensible operating policies that strike a balance between regulation and experimentation.
The pilot program isn’t over; but so far it seems like we just might survive this “scooter invasion.” And who knows, maybe Portland will actually be a nicer place to live once our streets are full of people on foot, bikes and scooters — instead of hiding inside huge, socially awkward, motorized machines that don’t mix well with others.
(And yes, I’m aware of the unfortunate collision on 122nd and I-84 Saturday. That’s a terribly dangerous place no matter how you’re getting around. And I heard about the drunk man who hit two people trying to rent scooters on the sidewalk downtown yesterday. Very sad, but again it just reinforces a fact no amount of scapegoating can overlook: That cars are a poor choice for city travel and they have a tremendous potential to do harm.)
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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I have been really surprised at how strongly the Willy Week has come out against the scooters from day one without even giving them a chance. Multiple articles with a negative spin from the beginning. But that is probably a part of bigger issues at WW with its continued decline in quality (IMO).
I’m still neutral about the scooters. They definitely haven’t “taken over” downtown or other areas I have been. But I would say that helmet law compliance is close to zero percent based on my observations. I think the city is taking the right approach by giving it a test run.
Perhaps WW is just putting PR / editorial pressure on the scooter companies so it may generate some interest in advert sales by the same companies?!
Bingo. WW only makes money from businesses that purchase ads with them, scooter companies don’t have much use for ad purchases when they can promote their service much more effectively by just putting scooters out.
What scooter companies DO need is public support, which local media can either damage or bolster by writing articles that highlight different aspects of the product. Willamette Week doesn’t really care whether scooters are dangerous, effective, good for the environment, or a gentrifying force; they won’t ever get ad buys from Bird/Lime/Skip unless they start by writing mostly negative pieces. My guess is one or more scooter companies will buy some ads, and then all of a sudden we’ll see “we were wrong, scooters are fun and cool!” articles start to come out.
Well that certainly explains why Willy Week was and is so supportive of legalized marijuana from day one for what I am in favor of but is definitely a debatable topic. Weed ads were and are prolific in the Willy Week. Other than Nigel, the WW is a shell of its former self these days.
Can BikePortland readers think of another local media outlet that relies on ad revenue? Hint: You’re looking at it right now!
We all know BikePortland is supported by ad revenue, just like almost every other media organization in the world. The difference is that WWeek blatantly engages in pay-for-play opinion writing (disguised as news) to the point that even their own narrative on a given topic rarely makes sense.
BikePortland is skewed toward active transportation, but it’s got that bias identified in the very URL so you know what to expect. There’s no hidden meaning behind Maus’ editorial, and it’s clearly labeled as an editorial.
based on the fact that odot refuses to allow speed limits to be lowered if people are already driving too fast shouldn’t the helmet law just be repealed since no one is complying with it anyway?
No because my insurance premiums go up to cover uninsured accidents of those who don’t wear the helmet. If they had to pay thier own incurred costs of beig irresponsible I would be okay with it.
You should be a strong advocate for vehicle occupant helmet laws, then.
When bikes have seatbelts and airbags, you might have a valid equivalency.
Well that small point is more than negated by bicycles/scooters lacking giant pieces of glass in front of your face and high powered engines to regularly propel you 60 mph.
i think they do make an airbag helmet in the netherlands. just as a side.
Do you have a link to a study showing that helmets reduce insurance costs for scooter users? I have seen no such studies.
I ride Lincoln a lot and have encountered scooters there — I agree they’ve been easy to share the street with. I have seen some mild hijinks, but everything happens at 15 mph or less, so it’s hard to get into/cause too much trouble. So far it seems like “what’s the big deal?”
I am happy to report that while during the first week I exclusively saw only the stereotypical “Scooter Bros” riding the scooters, I now see a much more diverse group of folks climbing aboard. The scooters seem to be neatly parked for the most part, and fewer people seem to be salmoning. The biggest problem I see is that most of the riders seem to be oblivious to the two key dangers that most serious cyclists have at the forefront of their brains at all times. Dooring, and right hooks. But perhaps there is a bright-side and some wealthy tech mogul will get hooked or doored and launch a cost-is-no object suit against against the enablers of unrestricted happy motoring ,bringing the” Potemkin Village” of motorist responsibility law crashing down.
Good to know that as a white male I will be judged as a “scooter bro” (whatever that means) in a negative light if I should choose to ride one of these things. Hopefully we can get some more non binary mixed race scooter users to fill some apparent societal need..
Honestly, noone really cares. Except blogs and twitter users (twits). Go ride in freedom young man!
Huh? Do scooter bros have to be white males? Sigh…there goes my dream.
I work at a small health care facility on Hawthorne, and 3 Lime scooters were parked in a neat row on our private parking lot *right behind a patient’s car in a handicapped spot*, clearly marked as handicapped. Given the arrangement, I have to conclude that Lime dispersed the scooters there intentionally, though it is possible they were left there by users. Regardless, someone made a decision to block access for a person with limited mobility. I moved them into the sidewalk adjacent our building (in a way as to not block anyone) while the robo-voice screamed about calling the police. I’m all for additional non-auto mobility options, but for (insert diety’s name here) sake, please don’t block handicapped people with the scooters (this is directed at both the companies involved and the users). Beyond that, I’ve had zero negative interactions with scootees (let’s make that a word), and would much prefer to share the road with scooters than Uber/Lyft drivers. An Uber driver almost took me out *on the separated lane of Better Naito* making a drop off, swerving between cones and parking in the non-auto lane.
It’s unfortunate that the Uber driver broke no laws by dropping off a passenger there in the bike lanes.
I’m not sure that’s the case in this situation. This was in the Better Naito stretch, coned off with 2-way bike traffic (the right standard traffic lane becoming the contraflow bike lane). There isn’t an ORS code specifically stating what the legal status of such a temporary infrastructure design, but using other separated bikeways as an example, I do believe it’s illegal to swerve into the separated section of the NE Multnomah bikeway (between the planters) and park your car there while occupied by people bikes actively using the bikeway.
That’s unfortunate and there’s no excuse for hIeinconsiderate treatment. don’t mean to ‘whatabout’, but in the pantheon of grievances a handicap person suffers daily, this is pretty low. I spent a few months on a wheelchair recently, giving me just the tiniest perspective. I found it nearly impossible to get around my neighborhood because of the combination of cars blocking the sidewalk–at best an inconvenience as I have to reroute, at worst a deadend because of a lack of curbcuts making alternative routes infeasible. t
Just a general comment about the Uber phenomenon, and perhaps a cautionary tale for eScooters: I remember well how much support was written on the comments and pages of this blog prior to the release of Uber/Lyft a few years back. So much celebration here about how Uber/Lyft were going to transform the streets of Portland into an urban transportation utopia. How’s that working out for cyclists, now? Will eScooters go the same way?
Moved a couple last night that had been nicely parked directly in the path of the sidewalk/crosswalk.
I saw a couple last Friday on a pair of them hitting the MAX tracks near the Apple Store at damn near parallel angles. As I was about to warn them, I noticed that the scooter tires were just fat enough to not wedge in the tracks, saving them from going down in a rather congested area. So, perhaps there’s a bit more leeway with these things to be a poor rider than on a bike.
I have heard a lot of angst from friends and neighbors who are worried about unsafe scooting (is that the verb?), people not wearing helmets, crowding in the bike lane. But I have to say, they are an easy, efficient option in a pinch. Just last week, I went out to get on my bike and realized I had a broken spoke. At first I thought I’d have to take the car the mere 2.5 miles to my office, but then I realized I could take a scooter. I walked 1.5 blocks and picked one up. It was an easy and cheap alternative to my car — and much more environmentally friendly.
I think the e-scooters provide a great alternative option for Biketown. Biketown’s quality has declined dramatically in the past couple of months. Key pads either are too sensitive or don’t function at all. Bikes go into repair mode without prompt. Reserving bikes via the Biketown app is prone to glitch and malfunction. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the annual membership, I would have stopped using Biketown already. Thanks to scooters, I now have a way to get to where I need to go reliably.
i’ve also had trouble finding useable biketown bikes lately. it often takes me 2-3 tries to find a bike that has a functioning keypad.
Same. The other night I tried three separate biketown bikes. On each of them I was able to enter my account number and PIN, after pushing the buttons with all of my might, only to be presented with a “Connection Error” message. To make it even worse, the bikes were recently upgraded [hahmmm, downgraded] by forcing users to read approximately 60 seconds worth of messages about how to ride, where to ride, where not to ride, how to use the lock, blah, blah, blah.
In all, I wasted about ten minutes before giving up and taking a Lyft. (I wasn’t yet signed up for the scooters). It would be a godsend if the bikeshare bikes were as easy to use as the scooters which have QR codes that are easily scanned.
Note: I have a monthly membership for $19, so I’m required to enter my six-digit account number and four-digit PIN. On the plus side, I now have very strong fingers from all the herculean pressing of the buttons. If I’m ever mugged I will now be able to do a Bruce Lee style jab with fingers extended like cat claws. Maybe bikeshare isn’t so bad after all. *shrugs*
THIS. I cannot believe how poorly those keypads hold up over time! A few times in the past month I’ve had to spend at least 5 minutes trying to punch in my code. It also hurts your fingers.
They really need touch screens on those things, if the batteries work at all.
Interesting that Biketown quality really dropped off right after Motivate was acquired by Lyft, huh? Especially with Social / Jump Bikes being owned by Uber and all. Uber would never do something like that, would they???!!!
nah…this has been a long-term problem. there is a lot of vandalism and the keypads never worked well to begin with.
it’s a pity that “progressive” portland is so conflicted about bike share that the city has refused to fund it and instead relies largely on corporate charity (funded, in part, by sweatshop labor).
I agree. I’m not anti-Biketown, but I think they’re at risk of being left behind. Using the keypad to unlock them is often finger-breaking painful, and the bikes are heavy and slow. Biketown should make the docks completely and permanently optional, and they also really need to upgrade their onboard keypad/access technology. Also, if they don’t add e-bikes soon, someone else will, and if that happens, I think Biketown could go the way of the yellow bikes…
eScoots replacing Biketown?
nope. not imo. I think scooters and bikes have different pros/cons. I do however, think e-bike share will make Biketown look old and outdated. that’s the next big shakeup.
“e-bike share will make Biketown look old and outdated.”
You realize that this is how obsolescence works.
I am a bit surprised how sanguine many of us here seem to be about the material/resource dimensions of all of these fleets: Zip car, Bike Town, and now these scooters are all products made with thousands of components from far flung mines and factories spanning the globe, using materials that in many cases are running out,* and on top of it all these products are *very* short lived; their newness/obsolescence is crucial to their appeal. If we could at least amortize these embedded materials over a few decades (as with the typical privately owned bike, car, skateboard) that would be one thing, but dramatically shortening the product life to maintain the sexy, sparkly, novel image raises all sorts of red flags for me.
+ The safety argument never got me worked up.
+ The substitute for cars argument seems premature and not a little wishful – “a way to get around that is a million times better for our city than using a car or truck.”
Meh, a few suburbanites will spend more on “resources” when buying a new car or on Black Friday than the entire biketown and various scooter shares combined.
Also consider that repaving one street uses far more resources than making a few scooters.
As usual, my reason for making this point has less to do with the absolute resource use, though this is certainly a factor, than with the *claim* that this is all so virtuous, so efficient, so good for the planet, without any acknowledgement of the other collateral trends.
and then there is also primitivist absolutism.
it’s not that all resource use is bad but that resource use beyond a certain threshold leads to tragedies of the commons and ecocide.
heavily-used bike share systems are likely something we could sustain globally without imperiling future generations. (eating significant quantities of animal products, living in single family homes in cities, and driving for transportation no so much).
I hope they don’t replace Biketown. The cost difference is substantial.
Biketown Annual Membership = $99/ year with 90 minutes per day.
EScooters. $1 ‘meter drop’ +.10 per minute
Five day a week, 40 minute roundtrip commute with biketown = 8.25 a month (20 workdays)
Five day a week, 40 minute roundtrip commute with Escooter = ~34.00 a month (20 workdays)
Escooter = Fun and useful
Biketown = Fun, Useful + Cardio (those suckers heavy)
To each their own and hopefully my math was correct. 🙂
I think your math is off, just the flag drops for using the scooters twice a day for 20 days would be 40 dollars. add in the scooting time and you are going to be well over 100 dollars for the month.
Whoops……you’re right guess I’d better check back in with my 4th grade math teacher. 😛
Isn’t it $1 + $0.15/minute for the scooters, vs only $0.08/min for bikeshare with no initial charge?
Not that anyone but me cares, but the weight limits on scooters preclude heavier riders that Biketown bikes handle easily.
I’m not sure what the weight limit is of either, but I have seen two people riding on one scooter nearly every day. I’m not condoning it, but they seem to be moving just fine at my estimate between 220-270 lbs.
Lime: 300 lbs (https://www.li.me/user-agreement)
Bird: 200 lbs (https://www.bird.co/agreement)
BikeTown: 275 lbs (https://www.biketownpdx.com/rental-agreement)
So depending the scooter brand it may have a higher weight limit than the bike.
Portland has also gotten lucky that the scooter companies did not do a “Uber” on them and instead worked constructively within the City’s framework, as not all cities have been this experience. The real test will be after November 20th once the winter starts…will anyone want to ride such then? (No one really knows how the market will react especially when the battery run times are diminished by the cold and the components by the wet.) PBoT did a big favour for the scooter companies by cutting off the pilot period then vs. a more typical “6-month” period which would have been January-ish.
Scooter article from the LA Times four days ago…
Sometimes its not about the scooters but what they might represent.
Meanwhile most scooter vandalizers drive around in pollution-spewing corporate-logo-festooned metal boxes manufactured by multinational corporations that conspired to kill public transit and contribute directly to ~1.3 million deaths each year.
Yeah, but driving solo is so much more enjoyable.
“most scooter vandalizers”
What’s the ratio that you’ve seen? By looking at all the trending pics and video online I’d say most vandals are kids, and then the houseless, and then drivers.
We do not!! Err, I mean *THEY* do not…
Venice Beach is very sensitive to tech-fueled gentrification these days, as Snapchat has been busy buying up all the real estate it can along the Venice boardwalk.
i suspect real estate speculators care more about the integrity of their BMW and Mercedes SUVs than $300 imported scooters…just saying.
Tech bros ride scooters and work for Snapchat, thus the scooters are a very visible sign of gentrification.
And I’ll bet the real estate speculators’ BMWs and Mercedes are regularly keyed or otherwise vandalized as well.
Hmmmm…who has more credibility? An anonymous internet poster’s histrionic stereotype or actual data:
“Among income brackets, those making between $25,000 to $50,000 a year are the most into the idea, and those making above $200,000 are the least. (One theory, from UC Berkeley transportation researcher Susan Shaheen: lower income urbanites who can’t afford cars appreciate the mobility of scooters, and wealthier residents who do drive find them a street-clogging nuisance.)…And, more women reported a positive perception of scooters (72 percent) than men (67 percent).
PS: I personally vehemently believe that Portland should ban capitalist exploiters of the commons (e.g. uber, lyft, reach, car2go, lime, bird) and tax wealthy folk in order to pay for free transit, free e-bikeshare, and free e-scooters.
The only reason people are willing to be so brazen about vandalizing scooters is because they’re an easy target. It’s not that they’re more symbolic of wealth than your average luxury sedan – it’s that if a self-styled “anarchist” who hates large tech corporations (but happily uses Instagram to publicize their anger without seeing the irony) wants to vandalize something, they can toss a scooter in the trash and likely experience no consequences.
LAPD “If we have to prioritize the allocation of our time and resources, first and foremost we’re going to prioritize the preservation of life,” Soliman said. “Protection of property comes second.”
I am a transportation data analyst, so I might be the only one to care about this small linguistic slip in the article, but BP is my favorite blog so I feel compelled to help. When you state “Portland still has more daily bicycle riders than any other big city in America” what you mean to say is that “Portland still has a higher proportion of bicycle riders than any other big city in America”.
When comparing the sheer number of cyclists, Portland is easily surpassed by New York and Chicago. With biking representing 1.1% and 1.7% of commuters in New York and Chicago respectively, they have a smaller percentage of cycle commuters, but significantly larger populations. So even though Portland is much higher at 6.3% of commuters by bicycle, the number of people biking is much smaller.
Formula: (bike commute percentage) x (population) = # of bike riders
New York = (1.1) x (8,537,673) = 48,601 cyclists
Chicago = (1.7) x (2,704,965) = 22,449 cyclists
Portland = (6.3) x (639,635) = 21,982 cyclists
All data is from the 2016 American Community Survey Data Report
Thanks Connor! I’m glad you are a fan of the blog. I need all the help with that type of thing that I can get. I will consider your analysis for future reference. However, keep in mind that I don’t base my assumptions/theories on Census data alone. We all know that’s just one number and it doesn’t come nearly close to counting all the actual people who use a bicycle on a daily basis. No one dataset does.. So I extrapolate on my own. Given that type of analysis I bet Portland has more daily riders than Chicago. Maybe not NYC though. So thanks again.
According to statistics from 2013, commuting to work constitutes approximately 16% of all person trips. So it is entirely possible that Portland has more bicycle riders than other large cities like Chicago. http://traveltrends.transportation.org/Documents/B2_CIA_Role%20Overall%20Travel_web_2.pdf
it’s amazing how few people actually consider frequency versus total.
I say this as a former transportation analyst 🙂
I love trying out new ways to get around and having options. I also feel that I need to know how to use all of the tools that are available so that I can pick the best one for the situation. Its weird that some people are so tied to their cars that they don’t experiment different modes or they reflexively see scooters, or bikes for that matter, as for “other people” and are not interested.
Sometimes I think that a contingent of people living in the metro area think of Portland more like a small town that is only there to accommodate their needs rather than a city that has its own life and must meet the needs of many people with many interests.
The biggest overlooked reason we are where we are.
In my view, way more important to understanding automobility’s death grip on our society than so-called CONVENIENCE.
It might be habit, but it might also be perceived economics.
If I have a car that is paid off and I pay for insurance monthly and paid my registration/licensing my only real, fluctuating cost is the fuel used to drive my car. assuming I get 25MPG at $3.00/gallon, I’m looking at 12 cents a mile to drive a car I can transport things in, not get rained on, have air conditioning, safety feature, and possibly a passenger.
If I fold registration fees in, sure that goes up just a little but the marginal benefit to me is greater than taking a scooter.
“It might be habit, but it might also be perceived economics.”
Not to mention a combination of both: low variable cost reinforcing a longstanding habit
Being able to bring a kid and a dog is a huge reason to drive. Bikeshare and scooters PROHIBIT kids! I have an 11 year old who could mange a biketown or escooter no problem if accompanied by an adult. I would love to see some transportation alternatives taht are TRUE alternatives. ie include kids and dogs.
If you also wrap in maintenance/repairs and depreciation, your perceived economic advantage may be nominally less as well.
Those are some big Ifs. Why are all the fixed costs you’ve pre-paid (car purchase, insurance, maintenance, license fees) not part of the “real” cost of driving, as you say? And do you never have to sit in traffic or pay for parking? You must live and work in Molalla (or similar) or drive a magic carpet where all you need is gas.
Then apparently you’ve never lived in one of the many areas of this city where safe infrastructure is non-existent. I don’t like a city patting themselves on the back until all citizens have access to safe and equitable infrastructure.
My comment was about people who have options but do not try them out.
I understand. I apologize for the snark. It’s hot!
I have no major quarrel with the scooters in practice. When idle, they could have better kickstands. In use, they’re very “human” in size/speed (unlike Class 3 e-bikes). It’s fine.
I’ve still got issues with scooters in principle. Profit is the motive. Making the world a better place is not part of the mission. Applause might be the wrong way to greet these things.
Well i have almost been run over in the side walk by these. As a pregnant woman i find the danger i have faced from irresponsible riders the police are NOT TICKETINg thanks to Wheeler unacceptable. Side walks are for walking. Period.
I suggest you adopt the system taken up by a friend of mine in LA , which is to carry a walking stick with a small wedge shaped ramp protruding from it at ground level, then when a scooter bro comes at you too close on the side walk ,just plant it firmly on the pavement next to you and the Illegal side walk rider will be abruptly redirected in to the street where they belong.
Sidewalks are for walking and cycling, no?
The problem is that these go up to 15 miles an hour and have no place on a sidewalk. Unfortunately, that is where I’ve seen the majority of them. I’ve also seen a few with 2 people, kids, all kinds of stuff. I will vote against these if given any option to do so.
But I can go slower, right? Just like I do when I have to bike on the sidewalk?
Actually, sidewalks are for a lot of things other than walking. You should check out state and local laws before making statements like that.
I have almost been run over in the crosswalk by motor vehicles more times than I can count…I’ll take getting bumped by a scooter any day. Having said that, anyone who uses a scooter to strafe a pregnant woman on a sidewalk is a jerk of the first order and should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, bear in mind that jerk would be a jerk regardless of their mode of transportation.
There’s no such thing as “almost run over”. As Yoda would say, either you were or you weren’t run over. Millions of people are “almost run over” every day but in reality it’s just that somebody passed them closer than they liked. As an urban traveler I expect things to appear within inches of me all the time.
based on what I’ve seen first hand sidewalks are for: Walking, Biking, Jogging, skating, wheel-chairing, segwaying, hover-boarding, uni-cycling, rollerblading, butt-boarding, Salsa dancing, sleeping, selling, begging and sometimes parking.
Did I miss any?
You forgot: sidewalk cafes, tables, chairs, restaurant servers, line-standing, advertisement signs, lamp-posts, telephone poles, sign posts, fire hydrants, garbage cans, recycling cans, news stands, motorcycle parking, bike parking, scooter parking, construction staging, smoking section, bus-stops, dog walking, cat-lounging, food carts, lemonade stands….
Sidewalks, although perhaps under-used in many places, are also over-used in many places.
Is the city charging these scooter companies a fair market rental rate for the right to use public property (eg, sidewalks and parking) to store the scooters? If yes, then no big deal. If not, screw them, and I encourage everyone to damage scooters whenever the opportunity presents itself.
What? This is total nonsense – what’s the fair market rate for sidewalk usage? The city charges me nothing for having a driveway that cuts across a public sidewalk, charges a nominal yearly permit fee for an A-board sign that a business wants to put out on a sidewalk in the right-of-way, and actually PAYS to install bike parking corrals for any commercial establishment that requests them (which I’m very happy for, since it means I have bike parking almost anywhere in town).
Sidewalks are, by definition, not up for rent at a fair market rate. They’re a public resource, and the city has negotiated a trial period with the scooter companies that allows them to use them. Why not complain about them to your city officials if you don’t like them, instead of encouraging vandalism?
“The city charges me nothing for having a driveway that cuts across a public sidewalk,”
The sidewalk, though public, is something you as the abutting property owner are on the hook to maintain, repair, replace. It is a complicated jurisdictional space.
I absolutely agree, I was just trying to make that exact point – there’s no “fair market rental rate” for sidewalks, they’re much more complicated than that.
According to the Sidewalk Cafe permitting process the fair market rate is $325.71 for the application for approval to take up the sidewalk space, then $100 plus $12.75 per linear foot ($5.50 after first year) of space taken up. And you must provide proof of insurance should anything happen in that space.
I’ve not heard of any scooter company having to pay to use the public sidewalk space in the same way. Even with companies like car2go they’re required to pay annual parking fees to compensate the city for lost revenue. I see no such thing happening with the scooters taking up the sidewalk space.
So yes, we’re giving money to the scooter companies by giving them free reign to clog valuable sidewalks.
That’s the cost for using a given section of sidewalk for a restaurant’s entire business hours, and it’s assessed as a per-year fee. So given a worst-case scenario for an example restaurant, where they somehow decided it was reasonable to set up a 1-foot width sidewalk cafe (roughly the width that a scooter requires when parked perpendicular to the street), that restaurant would pay $1.19 per day to rent sidewalk space.
Contrast that with a given e-scooter, which pays a $0.25 per trip fee to the city for the privilege of operating in city limits, and from early numbers currently averages 6 trips per day – scooters rent the sidewalk space they use for parking at a rate of roughly $1.50 per day, and use only a fraction of the sidewalk time this example restaurant uses.
So even comparing the highest possible cost for a restaurant to rent sidewalk space to the average amount a given scooter pays in to city coffers to use the same space, restaurants are still getting a fantastic deal. Real “fair market” prices for a restaurant to use sidewalk space are much lower, about $0.09 per linear foot per day; a single scooter going a single trip pays almost three times as much to use the same space, uses it for far less time, and can use sidewalk space that’s much less valuable than the limited stock sitting directly outside a restaurant.
Is the city charging private and commercial car/truck users a fair market rental rate for the right to use public property (e.g. roadway and parking spots). If yes, then no big deal. If not, screw them, and I encourage everyone to damage cars/trucks whenever the opportunity presents itself.
(The satire almost writes itself.)
yes, many commercial businesses are taxed and charged for this exact thing. I worked for a small shuttle company picking up riders in Portland and dropping at mt hood meadows. We had to pay ODOT(for operating on hwy26), PBOT(for dropping and picking up on a sidewalk), and FMCA(for operating on 84). These fees all on top of liability insurance. I also had to get my taxi drivers certificate. it drove us out of business. so maybe you arent so good at satire??
The irony almost writes itself.
Pretty sad when this site encourages vandalism of property. Whoever it may belong to.
You’re confusing this site (bikeportland.org) with the a specific person of the general public (commenters). This site has not encouraged vandalism, quite the opposite actually. You’re replying to one specific individual in this public comment thread.
Hope that clears things up for you.
Johnny, I get it but one commenter advocating this kind of thing in BP community is one too many. I think BP is a great resource and want to steer more people this way but very reluctant when I read comments like that.
I think most folks recognize comments sections rarely reflect the quality of a site, publication or story, but rather the excited tooting of our own little tiny horns. Good manners, common sense, wisdom, good spelling, grammar, cogent thought, sanity… look elsewhere for these things. Not in comments. 😉 Bike Portland commenters actually are, overall, less troglodytey.
Well, it seemed fair enough to PBOT. The market is still nascent. The 4 month pilot costs each scooter company $5250 for a participation permit, as well as a $0.25 per trip fee. Can you imagine how much revenue would be generated if every car trip in town cost $0.25?
https://bikeportland.org/2018/07/05/pbot-unveils-e-scooter-pilot-program-with-2500-cap-285330 (see the embedded document, page 2)
How is it any different to park a bike? is your issue that a company is using public space to make money?
I had an encounter with a pair of scooter riders going way to fast on the Division St sidewalk (~SE 43rd).
I’m cool with the scooters but there seems to be some room for learning about the proper place to ride them (not on sidewalks).
For those that have ridden the PBoT permitted e-scooters at night, how effective are the head lamps for visibility (other traffic seeing you approach) and for illuminating the street conditions ahead? (Do the headlamps shine far enough ahead to match your travel speed while giving enough reaction time?) I wonder, as I have only operated them during daylight hours so far.
The Bird scooters actually shut down from 9pm-7am.
I love seeing people on scooters, I do really hope that would incentivize creation of a better infrastructure for cycling and scooting.
I do run into scooters parked inappropriately on sidewalks but how one could blame that on scooter operators, there is virtually no space had being created for them to park. I really hope city would create dedicated spots for scoots to park. It would be also great if system was developed to report inappropriately parked scooters and fine operators responsible.
Look, there just isn’t time for electric cars to rid us of fossil fuel use before it’s too late (using guesses that beyond 2 degree C warming may be unstoppable.) I welcome any and all non-fossil fuel transportation. Really, we need a bold Mayor/Council to start shutting down streets to cars. Just copy the older cities in the rest of the world, it’s not rocket science. Would be nice to require large businesses to meet targets of non-fossil fuel commuting too. Time to start getting extreme folks. (by extreme, I mean doing what has already been done elsewhere in the world successfully)
“before it’s too late”
I’m unsure why that’s funny. They’re talking about the recent report that we may reach a tipping point where we can’t reverse global warming.
It’s funny because it really is too late to turn this around. There’s so much momentum behind these changes that they’re going to keep accelerating for quite a long while before reaching any kind of equilibrium, even if we were to stop all fossil fuel use today.
What you assert is very likely true, but being true is hardly the same thing as being funny. Some things only seem funny because we’re unwilling to admit that we’re in over our heads.
gal·lows hu·mor ˈɡalōz ˈ(h)yo͞omər/ noun
grim and ironic humor in a hopeless situation.
The planet will recover in time…humans, not so much.
Don’t forget the countless other species that will join us in extinction. There is one crisis facing this planet it has many dire consequences.
It’s almost like no species ever went extinct before man arrived.
Have you become an extinction apologist? That’s a very strange stance.
“Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate…Unlike past mass extinctions, caused by events like asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions, and natural climate shifts, the current crisis is almost entirely caused by us — humans.”
“a very strange stance.”
MotRG often surprises with his consistently strange stances. Some day I hope to understand his thinking.
Not an apologist, but I do have a degree in Evolutionary Biology and considered a PhD in it before I went to grad school for Public Policy.
So perhaps I come at things in a much more objective manner since I have a fairly decent understanding and education in the topic, rather than having emotional reactions over hearing the word “extinction” and assuming that it’s inherently bad.
So tell us more about how the earth will be better off when it’s only suitable for tardigrades.
Being pro-mass-extinction is the middle ground, obviously. He’s neither pro-apocalypse, nor anti-extinction.
Don’t confuse the fall of civilization with the extinction of homo sapiens. As a species, humans are very robust. The fact that people inhabit virtually every nook and cranny of this planet pretty much insures species survival.
“perhaps I come at things in a much more objective manner”
Perhaps. Though I think other possible explanations should be considered.
“rather than having emotional reactions over hearing the word ‘extinction’ and assuming that it’s inherently bad.”
That is quite a bit of projection.
I think it is fair to say (objective even?) to note that extinction is perceived to be bad by those facing it. To have empathy (an emotional reaction even) to extinction of other species besides ourselves also doesn’t seem out of order or deserving of ridicule.
The caricature of science you are invoking here (much more objective) strikes me as somewhat antiquated, not the best frame for making sense of our present moment.
a high percentage of our Electricity comes from fossil fuels. Over half easily.
Pure slanted rhetoric as always. I do wonder what the world is like when you only see what you want to see…
The Oregonian article on the two gentlemen standing on a sidewalk getting run down by a drunk driver, at 4pm downtown, was reported as “two people attempting to rent scooters”. It’s a rather morbid headline grab.
“People who tried to make scooters the new bogeyman (after a temporary hiatus from punching at bikes) must be feeling very disappointed”
Quite the opposite. Now they have another thing to point out where the users break the law even more than cyclists. They’re riding on sidewalks and without helmets. Scofflaws, the lot of them! It’s become easier to point out lawbreakers on e-scooters than on bicycles these days.
How many tickets have been written for the 2 most commonly broken laws: no helmet and sidewalk riding?
I haven’t seen a lot of people using them so I can’t comment on user behavior. I have seen them parked in the way a lot.
There have been a couple times where I thought about using them, both times to get home from an errand and dining. The first time I was with my kid, and since he can’t use one we couldn’t use them. The other time was with and older gal (who is an interested but concerned cyclist) and she said “I saw an older lady riding one the other day and she looked like she was having a really hard time” so she didn’t want to try it. Neither time did we have a helmet for any of us (since we’d arrived at our destination using safe transport) so we would have had to break the law in a very obvious way in order to use them.
This seems like just another motor vehicle where we allow the users to break the law to the detriment of vulnerable users. Sure, smaller is better but you’re still sending the message that it’s OK.
Tech bros ride scooters and work for Snapchat, thus the scooters are a very visible sign of gentrification.
And I’ll bet the real estate speculators’ BMWs and Mercedes are regularly keyed or otherwise vandalized as well.
I wonder why we’re so concerned about whether a scooter rider wears a helmet? Spare me the “it’s the law” nonsense. It’s not my concern whether someone follows a law that has no impact on me.
Yes, in theory there’s a chance they suffer a more severe injury in a crash that somehow, someway gets passed onto the public or my insurance. When major head trauma via helmet-less scooter becomes an actual measurable rpoblem, let me know. In the meantime, you’re rasping at the tiniest, most insignificant straw that can be conjured, among an enormous bundle of much larger straws.
We’re concerned because it’s a stupid law that the police can use to selectively stop people they may not like. It’s also fodder for other users to point out how much law-breaking is going on as it’s easy to tell when somebody isn’t wearing a helmet.
The city has more laws than they care to enforce and it usually negatively effects the vulnerable users the most.
If I were a daily car commuter to downtown Portland I might keep an eScoot in the trunk for the last mile.
Great that the scooter pilot project seems promising!
But what news of the other one – PBOT’s long-running motorbuggy pilot? That’s been going on for like a hundred years and there’s ample evidence that experiment was a dismal failure. Far past time to can it and try new things.
During this pilot, there are are only about 600 scooters in Portland. Thus the impact is limited.
So far, in my experience, I’m seeing some impact from scooters cluttering up sidewalks (I reposition poorly parked scooters a couple times a day) but not (personally) seeing much reckless scooter riding; there’s been one scooter/car accident but no scooter/ped or scooter/bike accidents (that I have heard of). I see scooters ridden on sidewalks and in parks, where they shouldn’t be. I don’t care if scooter riders use helmets and as far as I know, no-one is enforcing that rule.
Wait to see what the impact is when the number of scooters rises 10X to 6,000 or so. I’d imagine the impact will scale linearly with number of scooters.
I am pleased that Portland is proceeding slowly with the scooters and controlling them fairly tightly. I’d like to see us assess the experience of this pilot AND the experience of cities that have proceeded to a full rollout of several thousand scooters, before deciding whether and how to permit a full rollout in Portland.
Incidentally, I have been trying to monitor how many scooters are in East Portland, to see if the companies are complying with the pilot rules. However, the Bird app seems to be now showing me only scooters nearest my location, which means I can no longer see where scooters are elsewhere in the city. Anyone else noticing this?
I saw a bunch out on 122nd this morning.
I don’t have any apps so can’t comment on the virtual map of their distribution.
As a cyclist and pedestrian who has to interact with these, it is really hard not to complain about the scooters and their users. When the thought crosses my mind, it makes me feel like a cranky driver complaining about bikes though, so I use all of my will power to give the scooters the benefit of the doubt.
I have begun to appreciate the skooter riders as a kind of cannon-fodder for cyclists. Several of the more dangerous intersections in North West that I normally ride through have been tamed considerably the last time I crossed them because skooter riders were bobbling and zipping through them in various directions bringing the normally aggressive drivers to a crawl with confusion. Like in Chaos theory , perhaps the addition of this new element will bring the pace of auto’s down to a better lever due to the added complexity of navigating the streets with Skooters about.
Or old things, like cycling, or walking!
I get this is just, like, Jonathan’s opinion, man, but comparing ridership numbers at release of biketown to dockless e-scooturds is not all that reasonable. The payment model for biketown was a disaster when it started (remember the membership cards, lol) and was nothing like the ease of an app download and you’re on your way as with the scoots.
Also, the trial period should run a full year, ending it in November doesn’t allow us to see how the bourgeoi-lazy will actually use these things once the novelty has faded or once the weather is dark, wet and cold. I mean, we can all agree that nobody is riding these in January, right? I suppose the weather is the best thing for those against these and the biggest hurdle by far for the proponents.
“nobody is riding these in January, right?” Well, we’ll see but I ride my bike through the winter because most of the time it rains here, it’s more drizzle than downpour… something you can comfortably dress for. I think the same would be true for e-scooters. You’d need a good water-resistant jacket and rain pants that fold up into your pocket.
In one case, you are generating heat by the actual activity, in the other you’re just standing there at 15 mph waiting to get to your destination to throw your rain pants in your pocket. These are people who won’t walk/ride when the weather is gorgeous, they are all back in Ubers come 11-21 guaranteed.
A scooter-hating driver ran down two human beings yesterday:
It should come as no surprise that someone acted out on the intense hatred directed at people scooting in Portland.
PS: I’m not a scooter user and have no plans to be one.
Then it should not remotely be surprising that there are crazy people in the general population who’s actions are actually at the fringes of what other people may do. It should also not be surprising that it is entirely possible to hate scooters, hate where they are ridden, hate where they are parked, hate that riding a bike (or other active transportation) isn’t as popular and not want to injure the people who do ride them.
Re-reading Ivan Illich is *always* rewarding, and almost as often timely.
“The habitual passenger cannot grasp the folly of traffic based overwhelmingly on transport. His inherited perceptions of space and time and of personal pace have been industrially deformed. He has lost the power to conceive of himself outside the passenger role. Addicted to being carried along, he has lost control over the physical, social, and psychic powers that reside in man’s feet.”
“He takes freedom of movement to be the same as one’s claim on propulsion. He believes that the level of democratic process correlates to the power of transportation and communications systems. He has lost faith in the political power of the feet and of the tongue. As a result, what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He does not insist on his freedom to move and to speak to people but on his claim to be shipped and to be informed by media. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it. It is vital that he come to see that the acceleration he demands is self-defeating, and that it must result in a further decline of equity, leisure, and autonomy.”
Looks like this debate has gone national with an Op-Ed by a rehabilitation physician on CNN. There are some points I as unaware of such as the very un-consumer friendly hold-harmless clauses in the scooter companies contracts, and the fact that you may also not be covered under your own personal insurance policies. While not incredibly egregious. I have personally seen the helmet-less, sidewalk riding, traffic control device ignoring, salmoning behaviors multiple times a day every day since the intro and can’t believe a high-profile incident is nearly inevitable.
Every single argument in your post and in the associated Corporate News Network link can be made about bicycles.
Except the insurance issues and the “salmoning”…that word always makes me hungry when I type it. 😉
scooters can salmon and my car insurance has never covered me when i bike.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage will generally cover you if are hit by a car and the driver has not been identified (hit & run), does not carry insurance, or does not carry enough insurance to cover your medical costs. I carry a lot of it.
i have the the minimum coverage for uninsured — it’s a paltry sum that would likely not cover any serious medical issue.
it seems to me that people are trying very hard to come up with anything to discredit scooter use — no matter how anecdotal or unbelievable. i’m willing to bet that the same tactics were used when transportation cycling first appeared.
I just read the article. I agree that exculpatory clauses are bad for the consumer. Thankfully, depending on the court, these clauses may not be enforced because they are considered unconscionable. These start ups have a lot of terrible consumer and labor practices.
As far as the pedestrian who was hurt by a scooter driver, all she said was that all of the insurance companies (health insurance and car insurance) were pointing fingers at each other and no one would pay up. The article doesn’t specify, but she never said whether she hired an attorney. This happens all the time when there are multiple policies involved in an incident. Insurance companies typically won’t pay up until you have a lawyer involved, and even then, it’s a battle. This is not unique to scooters.
In the 20th century the Roman Catholic Church produced a number of brilliant philosopher-priests, among them Ivan Illich, Teilhard de Chardin, Romano Guardini, all of whom riled church authorities with radical ideas of human nature and societies.
Guardini, in particular, emphasized the negative aspects of “over-personalization,” and the consequent deconstruction of social values and interactions.
Several Protestants got there first, notably Nietzsche, who predicted that Darwinism, reducing humans to overly clever animals, would unleash a 20th century of horribly destructive wars–obviously correct–and a 21st century of complete social degradation, the “eclipse of all values,” which is unfolding even as we watch.
Jung also had much to say, considering our plight as “loss of soul.” Every attempt to secure a final and ultimate victory for “good” was bound to generate an equal development of “evil,” and accumulation of power over nature, in the form of nuclear weapons, for example, in essence solved no problems, but rather exacerbated them. Only radical confrontation of human psychology would allow a way forward.
Our salvation does not lie with smart phones and electric scooters, any more than it lies with radical militarism, with or without nuclear weapons. Clearly, our planet cannot survive another century of consumer capitalism.
“We have met the enemy, and he is us.”
I just walked out of my house to find a Lime scooter completely blocking the residential sidewalk. It is not dangerous, but I wish there was a built in mechanism to fine the company and have them pass the fine along to the rider. These companies haven’t been good citizens elsewhere, and have no incentive to treat our city any differently.
e-Scooter report: two or more Lime eScooters have been sighted in downtown Vancouver. (I saw one last night.)
i saw more people scooting than cycling on my commute home yesterday. most were women and many were taking obvious utilitarian trips (picking up take out pizza, for example). in fact the bike rack at virtuous pie had 5 scooters and 2 bikes. if scooting really takes off, i expect even more push back from bike enthusiasts who are outraged at having to share the (bike) lane.
I would like more detailed statistics on usage. Who is using both Biketown and escooters? Are they truly filling a need for Portland residents? Or are they mostly a plaything for tourists, hurting local businesses that used to serve that need?
As for the scooters, I live in southeast Portland and commute by bike or bus to a job downtown, near Naito and the waterfront. So, I’m observing the a high-use area for this service. I average 3-4 scooter complaints a day, which I file on the site for this pilot. No helmets. Riding on sidewalks. Parked in the middle of sidewalks. Underage riders. Riders going the wrong way, either in the street or in bike lanes. Every day. And I do not see any scooter activity during morning commutes—just at lunchtime downtown or after work as I go home.
If we are largely siphoning Portland tourist money to enrich out-of-state scooter companies or just giving bored people lunchtime joyrides to restaurants so they don’t have to walk, it’s not worth it. I cannot understand why any program like this should not be held to strict success metrics around improving traffic congestion or some measurable benefit for Portlanders. I feel the same about Airbnb, Uber/Lyft, Instacart, Taskrabbit, etc. Every experiment like this has systemic impact, often creating negative, overlooked problems. Other commenters have mentioned Biketown, for example, and how they no longer like it. So what will happen to mountains of 45-lb orange bikes and all the infrastructure given to that experiment when it falls out of favor? At what cost to taxpayers or the environment? How long until people are similarly bored with scooters?
We cannot follow fashion, which is what used to make Portland different. We have to demand constructive, effective solutions that work systemically for city residents.
Thank you, Eva.
it’s hilarious that the same rhetoric that is used to “other” people cycling is being directed at people scooting.
PS: i have never scooted and have no intention to do so but i recognize a better option than driving when i see it.
I’ve been seeing more every day on the Willamette Greenway Trail. All types of people–fun to see adults, little girls and cool teenage guys all having fun doing the same thing. Some poor parking but not bad considering it’s a new thing.
I assume it’s almost all recreational riding where I see them, and in the worst case they’re replacing biking or walking trips, but it’s still nice to see people outside enjoying themselves. If massive amounts of people switch from self-propelled biking or walking to battery scooters and bikes, and few trips replace car trips, my opinion will drop some.
I’ve lost track of whether they’re supposed to be riding on the trail through parks but it feels like they belong, as do ebikes that are becoming common.
The idea of helmet wearing when riding them never would have occurred to me if I hadn’t read about it being required–seems dumb to be required.
i am made most uncomfortable by the sightings of scooters out in the road, going up and down NW Front in the Industrial areas—Fathers are taking their children on piggyback rides, even???
i really do not see freight trucks handling this type of traffic well, seeing as these scooters most likely have a low profile to them up in their high seats and will be even harder to scope out than cyclists.
Took my first spin yesterday on a Bird. Pretty good experience overall! Snagged it about two blocks from work on Water Ave and rode it about 3 miles up Clinton to meet the wife (who was travelling by car herself). Convenient for the way one trip, smooth ride, didn’t break a sweat, and definitely smiled some. It is a zippy little ride. Cost was $3, which I consider high, especially compared against my annual Biketown subscription which is like $8/month. If they end up offering similar subscription deals, I’ll consider it. But I doubt I will diverge from my current 95% commutes on my own bike or legs. Nice tool to have in a pinch though.