It was fun while it lasted.
The end of the line has come for Portland’s electric scooters. The pilot started back in July and — judging from comments by Bureau of Transportation staff in a Willamette Week story published yesterday — PBOT seems likely to keep their promise of officially ending it sometime this week.
The scooters hit the streets on July 23rd. For the most part, the program has been a huge success. It’s really a shame it has to end like this.
Remember before they launched? There were all manner of crazy predictions about how terrible it would be. One of our local weeklies published a story that referenced the “zombie apocalypse” and likened the presence of scooters to an “invasion,” peppering the story with anecdotes about crashes and cluttered sidewalks that were all but unusable.
None of that stuff really came true.
While there are definitely kinks to work out (that’s what a pilot is for), with nearly 700,000 trips in just four months, the 2,000 scooters have changed mobility in Portland for the better. A survey of more than 4,500 scooter users showed them to be wildly popular and used in a way that aligns with nearly all of the City of Portland’s adopted transportation goals.
The scooter companies (not surprisingly) are begging PBOT to extend the pilot. Scooters have been very controversial in Long Beach, California; but officials there decided to prolong the test period for three months while they address how best to regulate them.
As we saw with strong support from City Council for the Central City in Motion plan last week, the City of Portland wants people to drive less and use more efficient, climate-friendly, and safer ways to move around. The scooters tick all those boxes. And now, just as people have begun to integrate them into their lives, the scooters will disappear.
As for what happens next, PBOT says they’ll share findings from all the data and public input they’ve gathered and make them public in early 2019. “The bureau will consider community input and data findings on e-scooters in Portland, and we look forward to learning from the findings to evaluate and inform a potential second pilot program in 2019,” said the agency in a statement.
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