Esplanade closure begins February 1st

Bird to host e-scooter rally and press conference Wednesday

Posted by on December 10th, 2018 at 1:24 pm

From the press conference invite.

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.

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

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63 Comments
  • Boyd December 10, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    Looks like the BTA is fully in Uber’s pockets now… So much for having an honest bicycle advocacy organization.

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  • Eric Leifsdad December 10, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    How completely bonkers that the pilot didn’t end in a smooth transition into a permanent program. I guess it’s typical of PBOT to treat every transportation mode as an optional extra thing, except cars. “Trial period is over, everyone pick up your toys and go home now.”

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    • John December 10, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Taking the scooters off the road was the plan from day 1 (despite what the somewhat misleading intro to this article). Portland didn’t decide to take the scooters off the roads one month ago, they decided that several months ago. It would have been misleading to call this a temporary pilot with the planned removal of the scooters, only to roll directly into a permanent program.

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      • soren December 10, 2018 at 4:14 pm

        “It would have been misleading to call this a temporary pilot with the planned removal of the scooters”

        Except this is exactly what PBOT did for the 120 day Uber/Lyft pilot project.

        Given PBOT’s decade plus failure to increase alternative transportation mode share this sort of car-centrism should not come as a surprise.

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        • Hello, Kitty
          Hello, Kitty December 10, 2018 at 9:09 pm

          Portland didn’t knuckle-under to Uber because of “cars”, but because of “spineless”. It’s the same reason we can’t get a better handle on short-term rentals during our affordable housing crisis.

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        • John December 11, 2018 at 6:44 am

          How dare they learn from their mistakes!

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        • paikiala December 11, 2018 at 9:17 am

          You know, doing what you say you’re going to do is so last century.

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        • Middle of The Road Guy December 11, 2018 at 9:39 am

          Different pilot projects, different parameters. There should be no expectation that different things get treated exactly the same.

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      • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 12, 2018 at 6:46 am

        John,

        Sorry if the intro is misleading. In my opinion however, it’s accurate and fair. Personally, I think PBOT should have found a way to keep the scooters on the ground. I absolutely understand the politics and how they had to keep their promise. There were many other ways to do this. I think pulling them indefinitely with no plan to replace them and then announcing a 2nd pilot is a pretty weak way to go about it.

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  • wayne December 10, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    That last link in the article goes to a piece in TheStreet with no mention of Portland, and I can’t find the referenced Willamette Week article about scooter fines & fees on the wweek website. Anyone have the correct link?

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  • bikeninja December 10, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    Since they never had a trial period and evaluation when they were first rolled out I think it would be fair to go back and have a do-over with personal automobiles in the city of Portland. Lets give them a trial period “like the scooters” then take them off the streets for a few months and decide if we want them back. If during this trial period any of the citizens testing out these probationary vehicles injures a cyclists, or mows down a blind person in a crosswalk or any other dangerous or undesired outcomes we may find it wise to put the thumbs down to them and stick with safer and more environmentaly friendly forms of transportation like bikes, bike share, scooters, and mass transit.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy December 11, 2018 at 9:40 am

      precedence.

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  • Jillian Detweiler December 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    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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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 12, 2018 at 6:48 am

      Thanks for the clarification Jillian. Glad you are pressuring PBOT on this.

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    • Mike December 12, 2018 at 8:19 pm

      Before pay-by-the-ride scooters are re-introduced it’d be nice to know that the City and others take seriously the prohibition of using scooters in parks. I agree the scooters can serve a transportation purpose for people that can afford them but it should not come at the expense of our parks or the people who enjoy them. What I saw during the pilot was the City and the scooter corporations treating the “no riding in parks” requirement as an afterthought at best, with limited public education and non-existent enforcement.

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  • 9watts December 10, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    It is called the revolving door.

    “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.”

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    • paikiala December 11, 2018 at 9:19 am

      Because, you know, after you stop working for one entity, you should completely change career paths…

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      • Middle of The Road Guy December 11, 2018 at 9:41 am

        That’s why I am a male stripper.

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  • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) December 10, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    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…”)

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    • Carl December 11, 2018 at 3:15 pm

      Should the headline still be, “Bird and The Street Trust will host an e-scooter press conference on Wednesday?”

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  • David Hampsten December 10, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Bird and Lime both participated together with city staff to write our new city ordinance allowing scooters through Aug 31st 2019 on all city streets 35 mph or less, including in bike lanes, but not allowed on sidewalks anywhere. Our ordinance allows any one company to have no more than 200 units in our city with a $500 company permit plus $50 per unit, which Lime is happy about (they had 150) but Bird is not (they had 450.) Anyone who owns one themselves is allowed to use our streets now (they were previously banned outright. Skateboards still are.)

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    • Bjorn December 10, 2018 at 6:29 pm

      I do not believe you are correct in saying that skateboards are not legally allowed to use the streets.

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      • David Hampsten December 10, 2018 at 8:32 pm

        In my city they are, even in most parks. Obviously I don’t live in Portland.

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      • paikiala December 11, 2018 at 9:20 am

        DH doesn’t live on the west coast.

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        • Middle of The Road Guy December 11, 2018 at 9:42 am

          He’s stated several times he lives in North Carolina (if I am not mistaken – Winston-Salem).

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    • billyjo December 11, 2018 at 7:25 am

      I’m sure it will continue just like it was over the summer. The bros that live close in will have plenty to play around with while East Portland where these could actually be helpful for transportation, won’t. All summer there would be plenty available on Multnomah between Grand and 9th, but none out east. One day there were 41 just in that stretch. Sitting in sets of 4…. In front of Kaiser, Pacific Power and the apartments. That afternoon going home most of them were still there, but none were available out at Gateway.

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      • Chris I December 11, 2018 at 8:39 am

        I always saw a bunch of them along 102nd, particularly around Mall 205.

        And really, who exactly is going to be riding these things in outer-east Portland? The streets are terrifying.

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  • pruss2ny December 11, 2018 at 8:53 am

    Wapo (and others) highlighted spike in emergency room accidents across the country due to rollout of dockless scooters…with individual emergency rooms in san diego and sf reporting 8-10 serious injuries per week EACH

    Madrid recently issued a 72hr ultimatum that all dockless scooters be removed from their streets…due to injuries and reckless behavior

    WSJ reporting that skyrocketing valuations for dockless scooter startups is failing after realization that the product is poor (scooters fail after 2months of use), a favored target of vandalism, and the injury issue mentioned above.

    if you really really really believe dockless scooters are just the single most crucial add to infrastructure that pdx can’t live without then great, get whipped up into a show of fervent populist support. just don’t naively think this is about remaking infrastructure…regardless of how many local PDX voices they can borrow, this is really just about PE trying to show revenue growth (by signing cities like pdx) so that they can justify the next valuation/sale.

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    • Middle of The Road Guy December 11, 2018 at 9:43 am

      Nailed it! They are a business trying to create a market for themselves. At the end of the day, everyone needs to generate income.

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      • Bob Steets December 11, 2018 at 10:27 am

        At the expense of safety. Dash cams are invaluable.

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    • Gary B December 11, 2018 at 11:48 am

      About 176 people per day in the U.S go to the ER for injuries while skateboarding. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/skateboard-accidents-land-scores-of-kids-in-er-every-day/

      A similar number of pedestrians are injured–significantly enough to make the statistics–while walking, the vast majority of which are not getting hit by a car.
      http://www.pedbikeinfo.org/data/factsheet_crash.cfm

      So, my response is–so what? People can make choices and accept their own risk; financial mechanisms (i.e., insurance) can protect the societal interest in those people’s injuries (i.e., the cost of their injuries is born by the right parties). Talk to me, instead, about how many non-users are injured by scooter-users. Then, talk about whether that number is acceptable compared to other modes. Are they serious injuries? What is or should be done to protect those non-users?

      (And you’re almost certainly right about your cynicism of the VC business model and whether the scooters are essential infrastructure, but I just don’t think you’ve characterized the injury data sufficiently or correctly.)

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      • pruss2ny December 11, 2018 at 12:56 pm

        VC model cares NOTHING about improvement of daily lives or improving city infrastructure…but they roll in, hire a couple locals, pay some fees, and suddenly all the coverage is “gee how cool are these scooters”?

        the roll out bared PE intentions — it was all hype, no sustainable plan.
        …enforce regulations or promote safety? (hey, helmets are a personal choice, amirite?)
        …vandalism/scooters being dumped into the river? NO PROBLEM, we’ve got enough dough to make it RAIN scooters
        ….scooters break after a couple months? see response to vandalism/scooters-suck-at-swimming above.
        the execution is not about a disruptive change to transpo architecture, but just to keep enough cool scooters on the streets long enough to bump that billion $$ valuation higher…then sell….then, WHO CARES…WE SOLD!!!!!

        there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical of city-endorsed public scooter share…they may not all hold water with your philosophical bent (freedom of personal choice) but i feel like PDX is becoming that uncle who is SHOCKED AND ENRAGED to find out that Facebook is monetizing his personal data, but just bot an Alexa b/c its SUPER COOL!!!

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        • soren December 11, 2018 at 1:19 pm

          “but I just don’t think you’ve characterized the injury data sufficiently or correctly”

          they did not even link to any pieces or studies — mostly because “the data” is just a bunch of anecdotal statements.

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          • pruss2ny December 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

            I just don’t know how to post links here.

            WaPo article (i know…FAKE NEWS!!) on explosion in ER visits (and yes, anecdotal b/c there is no national database, but they did go to ERs across the country):

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/scooter-use-is-rising-in-major-cities-so-are-trips-to-the-emergency-room/2018/09/06/53d6a8d4-abd6-11e8-a8d7-0f63ab8b1370_story.html?utm_term=.ea290bc284ec

            I can post the articles on Madrid banning scooters b/c of reckless and injurious behavior…and/or the WSJ article on valuations dropping as investors realize the potential downside of scooters from environmental and safety perspective, but i think i’ve blown thru my allotted inches in this comment section

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            • Josh G December 11, 2018 at 2:01 pm

              So people are visiting the ER because they get hit by cars on scooters?

              How surprising. What a remarkable observation.

              I guess we should get rid of bicycles too, because bicyclists are getting hit by cars at alarming rates.

              Same thing for pedestrians.

              Nothing dangerous about scooters, It’s autos. And abysmal road design. High speed limits. Minimal penalties for dangerous driving behavior. Lack of automated speed enforcement. And lack of separated bike facilities. Same issues we’ve been talking about on this site for years.

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              • pruss2ny December 11, 2018 at 2:09 pm

                not 1 single mention of car/scooter accident in the article that i could find.
                i’m guessing you didn’t read the article.

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  • AD December 11, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Sorry if I missed it, but will the press conference be live streamed (and is there a link to where we can view it)?

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  • 9watts December 11, 2018 at 11:36 am

    paikiala
    Because, you know, after you stop working for one entity, you should completely change career paths…Recommended 1

    These anodyne responses are tiresome.

    The Revolving Door is a real (and lamentable) feature of our political moment.
    Every time I mention something along these lines you respond with platitudes, utterly drained of political content. I’m not sure what you are driving at.

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    • Chris I December 11, 2018 at 11:52 am

      Perhaps he finds your comments to be tiresome, as well?

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      • Sigma December 11, 2018 at 12:01 pm

        “But if human nature were completely different, and everyone behaved the way I think they should…” is a premise that’s hard to argue with.

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      • 9watts December 11, 2018 at 12:54 pm

        That cannot be ruled out.
        But at the end of the day we are left with the politics of public sector folks being gobbled up by private sector firms that same public sector is supposed to oversee. Pretending this is of no concern serves no purpose I’m aware of.

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  • B. Carfree December 12, 2018 at 12:23 am

    If Uber owns any of the scooter companies, I’d refuse to use that company’s product. One of the largest owners of Uber is the (allegedly) murderous Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who stands to make billions when Uber’s IPO goes through next year.

    I simply cannot and will not support anything to do with mbs. It’s a small thing, but if millions of people take the same small action it can be substantial.

    https://observer.com/2018/10/uber-2019-ipo-saudi-crown-prince-richer/

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    • 9watts December 12, 2018 at 12:29 am

      I’m with you. Boycotts are an under appreciated tool.

      Just don’t tell Hello, Kitty.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 8:54 am

        One person not doing something is not a boycott.

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        • 9watts December 12, 2018 at 8:58 am

          But all boycotts begin with one person….

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 11:59 am

            This might in some cases be true, but it in no way refutes what I wrote.

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            • 9watts December 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm

              You do understand how boycotts work, that they are a thing, yes?

              Because all your comments on the subject of collective action suggest doubt or even incredulity.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 1:09 pm

                I am aware of how boycotts work. They do not work with someone deciding to make a singular decision not to do something. They do work by building a political movement around a collective action. Those are different things. Completely, totally different.

                Me not taking Uber or flyng to Europe: not a boycott. Me starting a movement where millions do the same and are vocal about their reasons for doing so and: that’s a boycott.

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              • 9watts December 12, 2018 at 3:23 pm

                “Me starting a movement where millions do the same and are vocal about their reasons for doing so and: that’s a boycott.”

                Right. But how do you think we end up there? It takes time and dedication, but it always starts small.

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              • Hello, Kitty
                Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 3:48 pm

                In many cases it will. But looking at the two examples where this has come up recently:

                1) I don’t want to fly to Europe because of CO2 emissions –> decision is go/no go. Not go/build a mass movement protesting international air travel.

                2) I don’t use Uber because I don’t like the owner –> decision is Uber vs alternative. Not take Uber vs. build a mass movement protesting Uber.

                So by all means avoid a product or service you don’t want to patronize, or start a boycott movement, but do not equate one with the other. They are different things. No one has talked about creating a boycott movement — just not doing something, which is simply not an effective way to effect change (and, in the case of air travel, may have no impact whatsoever).

                So yes, boycotts can start small. But they only work when someone is willing to commit time and effort to building a movement. Spending my vacation in Seattle rather than Utrecht is not going to bring down modern air travel.

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    • pruss2ny December 12, 2018 at 7:18 am

      i believe the connection between UBER and MbS is Softbank. and of COURSE Softbank is exactly who the scooter companies are trying to look pretty for in order to snare the next round of financing.

      “Softbank has met with all the major scooter companies in the past few weeks”
      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-10-15/scooter-startups-lime-and-bird-are-said-to-seek-more-funding

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    • soren December 12, 2018 at 10:27 am

      I’ve been boycotting Uber for years and I know many others who do the same.
      Collective action (by individuals) gets the goods.

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      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 11:56 am

        I’ve never used Uber. Am I boycotting them?

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        • 9watts December 12, 2018 at 12:24 pm

          I’m not sure we are the ones who can answer your question.

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          • Hello, Kitty
            Hello, Kitty December 12, 2018 at 3:52 pm

            Probably not. Only those who understand boycotts know for sure.

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  • AndyK December 15, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Possibly related: there is a PBOT RFP out requesting proposals to provide planning and safety analysis for scooters (among other modes).

    https://www.portlandoregon.gov/brfs/bids/index.cfm?action=ListPTE&AGENCY_ID=10&MONTH_FROM=&YEAR_FROM=&MONTH_TO=&YEAR_TO=&STATUS=1&textSearch=

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