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Bird rallies with The Street Trust to get e-scooters back “as soon as possible”

Posted by on December 12th, 2018 at 3:00 pm

(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Bird, the fastest company to ever reach a $1 billion valuation, set up shop on the steps of Portland City Hall today in a bid to get their product back out on the streets. Joining them were leaders from active transportation advocacy group The Street Trust and Forth Mobility, a nonprofit that promotes electric vehicles.

“Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust

Portland’s four-month pilot of shared electric scooters ended at the end of November and Bird was one of the companies that took part. “We’re here today to talk about bringing scooters back as soon as possible, and to expedite the process,” a Bird spokesperson shared with me before the event got underway.

Before speakers took to the mic, Bird staffers, scooter advocates and interested onlookers milled around a table and tent emblazoned with the Bird logo that had been set up in City Hall plaza. The company offered free helmets, pizza, coffee, and custom-made cookies.

The first person to speak was Joanie Deutsch, senior manager of government partnerships at Bird. She said Portland should restore access to this transportation option “as soon as possible.” “Portland riders made clear they enjoyed having access to e-scooters as an affordable transportation option,” Deutsch added.

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Jillian Detweiler from The Street Trust speaks with Bird’s Joanie Deutsch in the background.

The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler also spoke at the event. She said her organization was, “Tremendously surprised and happy” about the scooter pilot program. “It was giving a broader population of people an alternative to driving,” she said. “And giving people a convenient — and even fun — way to get where they need to go.”

“We’re here today because the pilot was a success,” Detweiler continued. She then echoed Deutsch’s comments, saying she wants scooters back on the streets as soon as possible. Detweiler acknowledged the need to consider data and feedback from the pilot and said she’s aware some scooter users rubbed walkers and people with disabilities the wrong way. “But we’re confident those [issues] can be worked out,” she said. “Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”

Detweiler also said The Street Trust is focused on making sure PBOT moves forward with their analysis. She announced today that PBOT plans to make a final e-scooter report available in mid-January and open up the topic to public comment shortly thereafter.

I chatted with Bird spokesperson Mackenzie Long before the event. She said, in addition to rallying support for e-scooters, they held the event to urge Portland to step into the forefront of the micromobility revolution. “We’re here to remind Portland that you were a leader in sustainable transportation. So keep it going!”

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

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Hello, Kittywas carlesssorenJillian DetweilerJohnny B. Goode Recent comment authors
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Champs
Guest
Champs

The scooters are fine but a billion dollar company can carry its own water.

Hail corporate!

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Did I miss something? They’re asking for access, not a subsidy like the car and oil industries receive.

was carless
Guest
was carless

Its currently illegal to have rideshare e-scooters in Portland.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Oops… I have two Limes in my basement… I didn’t realize that was illegal.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I like scooters too, but I object to the concept of a “rally” to promote the interests of a corporation. This is delving in to an Orwellian “newspeak” type propaganda. Rallys are the last soapbox of citizens interests and should be limited to labor causes, renter strikes, saving the forests etc. using potential customers to beg the lawmakers to open up a market to a corporations in disingenuous. The corporations can pay for their own advertising.

Scooter Steve
Guest
Scooter Steve

Agreed. This is astroturfing, plain and simple.

Beth H
Guest
Beth H

Because capitalists need a rally to sell stuff?

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

For once I completely agree with you.

One of the most effective methods of getting something for yourself is to argue on behalf of others for it, under a different guise.

Mike G
Guest
Mike Gilliland

Great! they are a lot of fun, but – let them come up with answers to quantity limitations; maintenance; user insurance; accident liability; user education; speed limitation (10 MPH?); for starters before we even think of when.

Johnny Bye Carter
Subscriber
Johnny Bye Carter

Don’t forget about the pesky helmet law.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

They have quantity limitations.

They have speed governors.

The rest are legitimate, though it’s close to being the exact same set of concerns as Biketown and Uber/Lyft.

B. Carfree
Guest
B. Carfree

Can we at least start with governors on cars and mandatory helmet laws for occupants of motor vehicles? People exceeding the speed limit in cars is actually killing innocent road users and motorists have higher rates of traumatic brain injury than cyclists.

Gary B
Guest
Gary B

I mean, shouldn’t we start with car manufacturers being personally responsible for you wearing a seatbelt? And no, an annoying reminder that I can ignore won’t suffice. A car shouldn’t be a legal mode of transportation so long as a user can physically operate it without a seatbelt.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

This line always makes me chuckle. Thanks for reminding people for the 3,894,584th time.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Sure, when bikes have seat belts. Cars already have two mandated safety devices – belts and airbags.

Dan A
Subscriber
Dan A

Any many, many features that make them more dangerous to those outside of the vehicle.

David Hampsten
Guest

Was Lime there?

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Yes

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

Compared to the Uber strategy of just operating illegally and seeing where it goes this tactic of trying to build support for regulating and allowing their product seems pretty good to me.

Ben
Guest
Ben

Bird is run by a former Uber exec and is notorious for dropping its scooters in cities without asking or even notifying anyone.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Which is NOT what they did in Portland.

At all.

Scooter Steve
Guest
Scooter Steve

Good riddance. Keep them off the streets. It’s been so nice having the bike paths cleared of junked scooters this past month. These scooters are just a fad and a bubble, we need to stop giving them so much attention.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

How many said the same thing about the horseless carriage?
Personal computers?

EricIvy
Subscriber

I for one support our scooter overlords

David Hampsten
Guest

I do too. I don’t use them at all, probably never will. Here in Greensboro most scooter users are not existing cyclists nor transit users, but car drivers, so the use and promotion of scooters creates a brand new advocacy movement for bike/ped improvements. In Portland and other cities with big bike advocacy, you’d probably not notice any discernible scooter advocacy movement. But in most US cities, the number of regular bicycle commuters is so small, and the number of bike advocates smaller still, that any new advocacy movement has a huge impact. First came commercial dockless bike share (we were the first city with Limebike), then scooters, and soon unicycle segways, and we’ve seen a city officials stepping all over each other to be seen as accommodating. We now have a city ordinance that not only makes scooters legal on 95% of city streets, but we even allow (encourage) municipal monopolies on service.

Viva capitalismae!

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Dang – I thought you were in WS.

David Hampsten
Guest

Nope – Greensboro. WS is nice, more of a “city” than Greensboro. The Salem portion is especially interesting, Moravian architecture from the late 1700s. The two cities are very similar in cost of living. Greensboro is comparatively plain and uninteresting, but it does have full AMTRAK service including checked baggage (important to those of us who can’t drive), which is why I live there and not WS.

soren
Guest
soren

“We now have a city ordinance that not only makes scooters legal on 95% of city streets, but we even allow (encourage) municipal monopolies on service.”

Wow.
Such a contrast to PBOT’s ugly disdain for these new alternatives to automobility.

Celly
Guest
Celly

Please don’t bring these e-scooters back! I’m sick of tripping over them on sidewalks and having to dodge riders swerving around and going the wrong way on bike paths. Not to mention when they tip over and outright block bike lanes. Why is a non-profit like The Street Trust speaking on behalf of a billion-dollar for-profit corporation anyway? Can’t Bird pay their own way without relying on free publicity paid for by Street Trust donors?

These e-scooters seem like an investment scam to me. The fact that these companies just drop scooters onto public streets in order to garner venture capital money, while making up terms like “micromobility” and trying to rally the public and governments behind them as some sort of magic solution to everything from convenient travel to global warming seems like something out of a future dystopian movie. It’s one thing for a company to take out advertisements to make money but the way they seem to be wedging themselves into governments and NGO’s alike seems rife for corruption.

When the bubble bursts and these companies go under, we will be left wondering why we spent so much political effort trying to accommodate them. Our dumps will be full of discarded e-scooter batteries and we’ll all go back to the good-old bicycle, which has stood the test of time for the past 100 years and will continue to do so.

David Hampsten
Guest

Remember horses? They stood the test of time for several millennia, including over 100 years in the Portland area. By the 30s they were all gone. And I dare say they felt the same about those newfangled infernal machines, bicycles and horseless carriages.

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

I wouldn’t count beasts of burden out of the running for the long term yet. Technology has advanced rapidly in the past 200 or so years, but the verdict is still out on whether it’s saving humanity or killing it.

David Hampsten
Guest

From what I’ve seen on Greenland carbon core sample studies, the worst contribution to our greenhouse gases was from the Roman period (burning of forests) followed by the dark satanic mills of the late 18th through early 20th century, from the burning of dirty coal (as opposed to anthracite.) If you travel in Europe, you can see scaffolding on most old cathedrals, cleaning the 19th century coal smog off of them. Paintings from the same period reflect that awful air pollution. Car pollution is usually listed as the third worst, but unlike the other two, it’s something we think we can something about, by breaking our addiction to driving.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Tripping over them? Are you looking in front of you when you walk?

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Does anyone know if Bird has made a contribution to Street Trust?

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Don’t want to leave my question out there like an accusation. Street Trust’s website does not include Bird as one of their Transportation contributors.

Jillian Detweiler
Guest

The Street Trust has not received any financial support from Bird.

Mike Quigley
Guest
Mike Quigley

Rally? I count about 18 people in the photo. And they are probably paid to attend, like a Trump rally.

Dabby
Guest
Dabby

Seriously, just no.
Please, just say no.

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

It seems like a lot of the complaints about these scooters could be easily fixed with some software changes and a reporting email address. You could snap a picture of a scooter parked incorrectly or of scooter riders doing things they’re not supposed to like riding on the sidewalk and the company could use the photo time and geo location tag to determine which user it is and disable their account for a time based on the severity of the offense. Has anyone heard of any municipality requesting this or any of the companies suggest they’re working on a similar solution?

David Hampsten
Guest

Bird said they already require it for their users when they spoke to the Greensboro city council on Nov 20th. Users are supposed to take and send in a picture of where it was parked before signing out, that anyone who didn’t do so was not only charged for it, but put on a scofflaw user list. So they said – our city hasn’t tested it yet.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

For funsies:

It seems like a lot of the complaints about these cars could be easily fixed with some software changes and a reporting email address. You could snap a picture of a car parked incorrectly or of car riders doing things they’re not supposed to like [insert one of a million things] and the company could use the photo time and geo location tag to determine which user it is and disable their account for a time based on the severity of the offense. Has anyone heard of any municipality requesting this or any of the companies suggest they’re working on a similar solution?

idlebytes
Guest
idlebytes

Haha yes I realize the irony. But that hurdle seems much bigger then this one for a new mode put out by a tech startup. Let’s start this mode out with some sensible requirements and maybe it’ll demonstrate how much they can contribute to improving use and spread to other modes. I mean there’s always hope for some reason right? 🙂

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

You made a funny

Cory p
Guest
Cory p

The solution can be easier still. Simply fine the share companies for each parking infraction. They will quickly find solutions. No need to penalize the users directly.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Who wants to report an illegally parked car and risk getting publicly humiliated for being racist?

resopmok
Guest
resopmok

I still do it every day. I’m not afraid to confront false accusations.

Maddy
Guest
Maddy

Or the companies could be forced to turn the info over to the city and face a fine.

Or fine the company for each verified complaint, and force them to pass the fines onto the consumer like rental car companies do with tickets.

Some sort of regulation needs to be hammered out.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

I find it very interesting that a Billion Dollar corporation can stand on the steps of City Hall and post its banners on the building for a press event.

What is next Mary Club’s Happy Hour Promo with women poll dancing on the City Hall pillars flanking the steps?! [On second thought that is such a great idea…Devil’s Point or Union Jack, are you listening?]

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

They’d include a scooter wash.

David Hampsten
Guest

The Portland Naked Scooter Ride!

Cory p
Guest
Cory p

I do find it really amusing to hear cyclists complaining about scooters with the same language that motorists complain about bikes.

Middle of The Road Guy
Guest
Middle of The Road Guy

Many cyclists do not own mirrors.

David Hampsten
Guest

… but they love to sound their horns and ring thems bells.

Lovescooters
Guest
Lovescooters

Love the e-scooters, used them often, want them back, and really tired of hearing cyclists and drivers complain about them constantly.

Lester Burnham
Guest
Lester Burnham

We already have enough scofflaws between cyclists and motorists. NO to the scooter return!

They were a nuisance blocking sidewalks too.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

What? Bike Portland didn’t get the billion dollar invite? Guessing the street trust has the whole donation thing down pat.

Racer X
Guest
Racer X

That would be a smarter $ play for them vs. waiting for me to renew my once generous support given how BTA bike advocacy had wained over the last 10 years…and not publicly challenging the system strongly when it needs a recalibration..vs. having the needle stuck…like recently

Johnny B. Goode
Guest
Johnny B. Goode

Scooter riders have done a great service when it comes to the general public’s perception of bicycle riders. Much like Donald Trump has done for the legacy of the late George H.W. Bush and the late John McCain.

soren
Guest
soren

This is exactly why I tend to love ninjas and scofflaws and dislike “bike ambassadors” and “safety nannies”.