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Portland launches e-scooter rider survey, announces focus groups

Posted by on September 26th, 2018 at 1:37 pm

Part of the survey asks about existing laws and where people want to ride.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

We’re about half-way through the 120-day electric scooter pilot program and the Portland Bureau of Transportation has embarked on the public outreach phase of its assessment.

Earlier today I received an email from Bird, one of the three companies participating in the pilot. “How was your recent Bird ride in Portland?,” it asked. “The Portland Bureau of Transportation would like to hear about it! Take their survey today for a chance to win one of four $50 Visa gift cards. Your responses will help PBOT determine whether e-scooters contribute to the Portland’s mobility, equity, safety, and climate action goals.”

The email linked to a PBOT survey that asked many detailed questions including: “Why did you try e-scooters for the first time?”, “How often do you ride e-scooters?”, “How often do you use e-scooters to access a bus, MAX, or streetcar?”, “What are the top three trip types for which you use shared e-scooters?”, “If an e-scooter had not been available for your last trip, how would you have made that trip?,” “How did you get to the e-scooter that you rode?”, “Have you reduced the number of automobiles you (or your family) own because of e-scooters?,” and so on.

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The survey asked how often I used various travel modes before and after e-scooters arrived. Education was also part of the survey. PBOT wants to know if the laws are understood and how to do a better job informing the public about them. They also ask survey-takers to rank each of the three scooter companies.

One of the most interesting questions showed a graphic of a street cross section and asked where I typically ride my scooters. Then the next question asked where I’d prefer to ride them. I could see the answers to these questions having an influence on whether or not the City of Portland pursues code changes that would allow people to use scooters in parks and on some sidewalks.

This survey is just one tool PBOT will use to decide whether or not to continue — and/or how best to continue — to offer e-scooters in Portland.

Earlier this week PBOT announced a series of four “transportation focus groups for the black community.” One of them will discuss the e-scooter pilot. PBOT says they’ll host three community focus groups on this topic in October; one for people who identify as black, one for the “disability community” and the other for east Portland residents.

PBOT will determine the success of the scooters based on their ability to: reduce private auto use and congestion, prevent fatalities and injuries, expand access to underserved communities, and reduce air pollution.

If you’ve ridden a scooter, please take time to fill out the survey.

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

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24 Comments
  • Avatar
    Clicky Freewheel September 26, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    Does PBOT enforce the rules regarding e-scooters at all? I see people riding the wrong way down park paths, riding on sidewalks, and leaving scooters blocking walkways. It is now a nearly daily occurrence that I get hit by a e-scooter operator (always wearing headphones!) I’ve never had any of these problems with bike share users.

    Now that Better Naito is gone, the e-scooter riders are making riding in Waterfront Park treacherous. They go way too fast down the path. These e-scooters riders are just as selfish as car drivers – they don’t seem to care if they crash into you and expect you to move out of their way. They are making cycling in this city that much more dangerous.

    I don’t have high hopes that PBOT will address this issue – this city generally would rather cave to these companies rather than regulate them – but I seriously hope that the city makes them pay for the extra enforcement that their presences now requires. And I sincerely hope they do not allow them on sidewalks – pedestrians should not be forced to share space with fast-moving motorized vehicles.

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      zach September 26, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      The reason scooters ride on the sidewalk is to avoid the danger of sharing the road with cars. Build protected bike/scooter lanes.

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        Clicky Freewheel September 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

        The city can’t even build protected lanes adequate for just cyclists, you really think they will build them wide enough to accommodate all users? And whatever happened to using corner parking spaces to store e-scooters to improve viability? Active transport advocates’ fetish with these e-scooters is more than troubling – just like their claims about self-driving cars, they have tons of serious drawbacks that city officials and advocates choose to purposely ignore. Argumentum ad novitatem: just because something is new and shiny, doesn’t mean it will solve all of our problems. The same goes in reverse as well, but luckily bicycles have had over 100 years to work out the kinks.

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        Andrew Kreps September 27, 2018 at 10:29 am

        Aren’t we calling those Light Transportation Option lanes now?

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          Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 27, 2018 at 10:41 am

          something like that… although I think the term is LIT lanes.. “low impact travel” or “low impact transportation” lanes.

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          Clicky Freewheel September 27, 2018 at 11:18 am

          If by “we” you mean those who invent new words for things in order to alienate those “not in the know” from themselves who are of course far more”informed and inclusive” than you, then yes.

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          q September 27, 2018 at 12:33 pm

          I think they’re being renamed Scooters Or Bikes lanes.

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    bikeninja September 26, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Hello Survey, my name is Scooter Dude. I would prefer to ride a scooter up bike lanes in the opposite direction from those uptight snobby cyclists. What is it with these old time manually cranked yokels giving me attitude about cruising in whatever direction I want. Scoots are about fun and freedom, get off of my cloud you cyclist kill-joys.

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    turnips September 26, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    the primary takeaway of my very small and informal survey of scooter riders is that they are uncomfortable with speaking to strangers. also: four out of six would have been walking without the scooters, one would have been biking, and one was taking a trip expressly to try out the scooter (after trying a biketown bike).

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    q September 26, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    “PBOT will determine the success of the scooters based on their ability to: reduce private auto use and congestion, prevent fatalities and injuries, expand access to underserved communities, and reduce air pollution.”

    I like the scooters but don’t use them. Where I see them (because of where I am during the day) is on the Willamette Greenway Trail and South Waterfront. I’d guess the people I see are using them for recreation, curiosity, and (at the South Waterfront) to go between buildings and the tram, office to coffee shop, etc. –so either replacing walking or just creating a trip for pleasure.

    So based on the PBOT criteria, the trips I see are worthless, although I still see some value in them.

    Recommended Thumb up 5

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      9watts September 27, 2018 at 8:32 pm

      “Have you reduced the number of automobiles you (or your family) own because of e-scooters?”

      That is a terrible question to ask in a survey, especially if you divulge that the answer to that question is key to how e-policy is made. Yikes.

      Recommended Thumb up 5

      • Avatar
        q September 27, 2018 at 9:52 pm

        Good point. PBOT is basically telling people what answer they need to give if they want the program to continue.

        Luckily PBOT tells people at the beginning of the survey, “It’s possible you’ve received multiple emails from these companies to access this survey. There’s no need to take this survey multiple times, limit your response to once per person”. Without that warning, pro-scooter people (and companies) might be tempted to submit more than one survey per person.

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    pedestrian September 26, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    I have seen them within ODOT property known for narcotics use such as the west end of SW 13th and SW Main St and other sites where controlled substances are used. Given that significant proportion of Portland’s transients have substance abuse and dependency issues, operating under the influence is a significant concern that creates significant risk for pedestrians and auto drivers. I firmly believe e-scootering while high on heroin in the city around other pedestrians and vehicles need to be charged with DWI. Some of you might recall Oregon’s interpretation of use of e-scooter by those with suspended driving license changed to “call law enforcement for info” .
    These things should carry PIP and liability in the same fashion as Car 2 Go and ZipCar. I’m going to call my insurance company and ask if my PIP would cover me if I’m involved in a collision as a pedestrian with one of those scooters.

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    mh September 27, 2018 at 2:30 am

    I love that they’re asking people already if the scooters have allowed the person to give up a car. In the middle of a trial period, with no assurance of continued availability? The survey seems really designed to be used well into the time when – not if – the scooters are fully approved for the long term.

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    Eric Leifsdad September 27, 2018 at 7:58 am

    In looking forward to the survey about how cars “contribute to Portland’s mobility, equity, safety, and climate action goals” and the decision about whether we’ll continue to allow them.

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    John Liu September 27, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Why is PBOT only surveying scooter users? Why is the survey written to exclude input from pedestrians, cyclists, and others who are affected by the scooters?

    I am starting to think that public outreach surveys need to be handled by a third party. I am too often seeing the bureaus use surveys that appear carefully designed to elicit a particular response.

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    I wear many hats September 27, 2018 at 9:58 am

    One cannot complete the survey if they do not ride a scooter, thus getting an extremely biased sample

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      q September 27, 2018 at 10:05 am

      Actually you can, by choosing “other” in some of the responses, because I tried it, just so I could see what questions were being asked. But nobody would know that, and the survey clearly is meant only for users.

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      Clicky Freewheel September 27, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Selection bias.

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        9watts September 27, 2018 at 8:34 pm

        that’s not the half of it.

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        I wear many hats September 28, 2018 at 10:00 am

        But I could never get to the point where I could win the $50 gift card. As a road user, both in car and on bike, I have skin in the game when it comes to the city allowing private for profit entities public ROW and sidewalk space. My responses should be tallied as well.

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      Mick ) September 27, 2018 at 2:22 pm

      I would expect a survey that was designed to find out what scooter riders are thinking would be “extremely biased” towards people who actually tried scooters, yes. This is how it is supposed to work.

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        q September 27, 2018 at 3:41 pm

        Yes, but I still have John Liu’s question from above–is PBOT only surveying scooter users? It should also be surveying other users of streets and sidewalk. Surveying only scooter users really could lead to an “extremely biased” results.

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          John Liu September 27, 2018 at 5:42 pm

          Yeah. Suppose we wanted to find out whether to lower speed limits by surveying only drivers?

          PBOT really needs to be called out on this.

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