Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on December 10th, 2018 at 1:24 pm
A leading electric scooter company will host a rally at City Hall on Wednesday at 12 noon. Bird says the event will feature speakers from nonprofits Forth Mobility (formerly Drive Oregon, an EV advocacy group) and The Street Trust. The event is billed as a way to, “Unify in demand for immediate end to ban on sustainable transportation alternatives.”
Bird was one of three companies that participated in the City of Portland’s e-scooter pilot program. Despite what appeared to be a successful experiment, Portland decided to take all scooters off the streets about one month ago.
Now Bird and The Street Trust want to get scooters back in the news. Here’s the text of an invite Bird is sending around:
Join us on Wednesday, December 12 at noon at City Hall for a press conference in support of bringing scooters back to Portland! We’ll have speakers from Bird, The Street Trust, and more.
Portland’s e-scooter pilot program was a huge success in giving Portlanders new convenient, sustainable alternatives to car travel and the city’s leaders have shown tremendous foresight as they plan to incorporate these new modes of transportation into the city’s streets.
Let’s show them how much we appreciate their work making Portland a leader in sustainability and that we hope we can get scooters back on the road as soon as possible so we can continue to have more convenient, environmentally-friendly, and affordable transportation options!
Word has it that representatives from Lime will also speak at the event.
I’m not aware of what (if any) major announcement will be made. But it’s not surprising to see scooter providers angling to curry favor in the Portland market. PBOT is currently working on phase two of a scooter pilot and they’ll ultimately have to choose which companies will have the privilege of operating here. Both Bird and Lime would appear to be likely candidates, especially if they were to be acquired by Uber as reports suggest.
Consolidation in the market makes it look like PBOT’s choice could come down to two behemoths: Uber or Lyft. Lyft recently completed its purchase of Motivate, the company that operates Biketown. And Uber already owns Jump, the company that built the bikes (and technology in them) that Biketown uses.
It’s interesting to note that Bird has at least two staffers who come from transportation advocacy ranks. Last October, the veteran leader of New York’s nonprofit group TransAlt, Paul Steely White became Bird’s director of policy and advocacy. And Bird has also hired Portlander Fiona Yau-Luu, a former Metro staffer who was once board president of Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks.
In other e-scooter news, the Willamette Week reported on Friday that the City of Portland collected more than $100,000 in fees and fines from e-scooter operators during the pilot program.
UPDATE, 4:22 pm: A bird spokesperson has contacted us to clarify that The Street Trust is not a host of the event. “Bird will host the event and has invited Portland riders to attend a news conference at City Hall this Wednesday at noon. Speakers will include representatives from Bird, The Street Trust, and Forth Mobility.” (Note that the initial Bird spokesperson who contacted us wrote, “… the press conference Bird and The Street Trust are hosting…”).
UPDATE: Good context for this event has been shared in a comment below from The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler:
The event on Wednesday is organized by Bird and The Street Trust was happy to be invited to participate and help get the word out.
The four-month pilot demonstrated people like getting around by e-scooter and e-scooter trips are replacing automobile trips. The response to e-scooters was far greater than we could imagine.
To date, I have been unable to obtain a schedule from PBOT for analysis, public input and decision-making about the future of e-scooters. While good analysis and public review are warranted, The Street Trust believes much of what needs to be done can occur even as e-scooters are returned as a transportation option.
I hope a demonstration of support for e-scooters will lead PBOT to share its plan for moving forward on a permanent e-scooter program.
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