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Portland releases final report on e-scooters, plans to bring them back in spring

Posted by on January 15th, 2019 at 8:30 am

(From the report)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says last summer’s Shared Electric Scooter Pilot Program was such a success they plan to bring them back for a one-year pilot program this spring.

(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Here’s the announcement (emphases mine):

The Portland Bureau of Transportation today released the 2018 E-Scooter Findings Report. Drawing on scooter use data, public opinion polling, staff observations and other sources, the report evaluates Portland’s first e-scooter pilot conducted from July 23 to Nov. 30, 2018. Based on this evaluation, the bureau also announced a one-year pilot program that will bring e-scooters back to Portland streets this spring.

“I’m glad that PBOT took a proactive approach, requiring e-scooter companies to share their data and to serve East Portland,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “While this technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution, I remain concerned about the unlawful use of e-scooters on sidewalks and in City parks, and the impact of e-scooters on people with mobility challenges or vision impairment. We will continue to seek public input on how to best serve all Portlanders.”

New data gathered by Multnomah County Health Department for PBOT show e-scooters were subject to risks similar to other ways of getting around. Scooter-related injuries (including injuries from non-motorized scooters) were a small portion of total traffic crash injuries, accounting for about 5 percent of the estimated 3,220 of total traffic crash injury visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers during the pilot period. Scooters generated 176 visits or less than half the 429 visits for bicycle-related injuries.

“We recognize people are interested in understanding the risk associated with a citywide scooter ride-share program, and this analysis provides an important baseline from which to make that determination,” said Environmental Health Director Jae Douglas, Ph.D. “After reviewing emergency department and urgent care clinic data, we found that e-scooters have risks similar to other parts of the transportation system. We did not find a disproportionate risk that would discourage the city from allowing a scooter ride-share pilot.”

A start date for the second pilot program has not been set. PBOT staff will brief community groups and transportation advisory committees on the findings report and seek input on how the bureau should conduct the second pilot program. A longer one-year pilot program will give PBOT the chance to test new measures to improve the use of e-scooters.

The bureau will also seek input through an on-line open house, which is set to begin in the coming days. The open house will give Portlanders the chance to submit their ideas about how the bureau can address some of the significant challenges related to scooter use, including sidewalk riding, improper parking and securing access to this new technology for all Portlanders. People wishing to be notified of the online open house, should sign up for email updates at the Shared E-Scooter Pilot Program website.

Here are the positive findings of the report:

A majority of Portlanders viewed e-scooters positively.
In a representative citywide poll conducted in December by DHM Research, 62 percent of all Portlanders viewed e-scooters positively at the end of the pilot. Support was even higher among Portlanders under 35 (71 percent), people of color (74 percent), and those with incomes below $30,000 (66 percent).

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Scooter safety risks were similar to other ways of getting around.
According to the Multnomah County Health Department, scooter related injuries increased from less than one per week before the pilot to about 10 per week during the pilot. Weekly emergency room visits peaked in late August and early September before decreasing to near pre-pilot levels by the end of the pilot in November.

Portlanders primarily used e-scooters for transportation.
71 percent of Portlanders reported that they most frequently used e-scooters to get to a destination, while only a third of respondents (28.6 percent) said they most frequently used e-scooters for recreation or exercise.

E-scooters replaced driving and ride-hailing trips.
34 percent of Portland riders and 48 percent of visitors took an e-scooter instead of driving a personal car or using Uber, Lyft, or a taxi.

Having safe scooter infrastructure mattered to riders.
Based on scooter ride data, riders preferred riding on low-traffic streets such as Neighborhood Greenways and on streets with bike lanes. This was also confirmed by rider survey data.

It wasn’t all roses and unicorns. Here are some of the findings that illustrate how, “e-scooter use created conflict with pedestrians and underperformed on some City goals”:

Portlanders reported widespread illegal sidewalk riding and incorrect scooter parking.
With speeds capped at 15 mph, scooters are appropriate for bike lanes or low-volume streets, but they are too fast for use on sidewalks, where they make it unsafe or uncomfortable for people walking or using mobility devices. And while staff observations showed most scooters parked properly in the sidewalk furnishing zone, improperly parked scooters negatively impacted accessibility and created a hazard for people with visual impairments.

E-scooter use in parks impacted other users and presented a significant management challenge for Portland Parks & Recreation staff.
Although bicycles are allowed in Portland parks, including Waterfront Park and the Eastbank Esplanade, motorized vehicles are not. E-scooter use on Portland parks trails violated Portland Parks & Recreation’s rules, but most riders (66 percent) said they weren’t aware of the rules.

E-scooter companies did not consistently comply with the East Portland fleet requirement and the pilot program showed other equity challenges.
Companies did not consistently comply with the East Portland fleet requirement. Companies only enrolled 43 Portlanders in a low-income plan. Along with staff observations, this suggests low company performance in aligning business practices with City equity goals.

They’ve also released this cool interactive map of all the routes taken by scooter users:

PBOT will present findings from the report at tonight’s (1/15) monthly meeting of the Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The meeting is open to the public. It takes place in the Pettygrove Room in City Hall from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. And tomorrow (1/16) from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Ecotrust (721 NW 9th Ave), Forth Mobility will host a networking event titled, What’s next for e-scooters in Portland?.

You can learn more and download the report here – www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/e-scooter.

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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~J~DavidHello, Kitty9wattsMiddle of The Road Guy Recent comment authors
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9watts
Subscriber

Eudaly: “While this technology has the potential to reduce congestion and pollution…”

“Average trip length 1.15 and 1.6mi” (can we get the distribution of trip length?)

“34% of Portlanders and 48% of visitors claimed they used escooters instead of driving a personal car, or taking an Uber, Lyft, or taxi.”

The numbers don’t really add up. The average trip length is so short as to make it statistically impossible for more than a tiny fraction of total trips to be in the band where a taxi or Lyft would make any sense (to me). Or am I missing how people use Ubers? To go 2 miles?

9watts
Subscriber

The habitual passenger cannot grasp the folly of traffic based overwhelmingly on transport. His inherited perceptions of space and time and of personal pace have been industrially deformed. He has lost the power to conceive of himself outside the passenger role. To “gather” for him means to be brought together by vehicles. He takes freedom of movement to be the same as one’s claim on propulsion. He has lost faith in the political power of the feet and of the tongue. As a result, what he wants is not more liberty as a citizen but better service as a client. He does not insist on his freedom to move and to speak to people but on his claim to be shipped and to be informed by media. He wants a better product rather than freedom from servitude to it. It is vital that he come to see that the acceleration he demands is self-defeating, and that it must result in a further decline of equity, leisure, and autonomy.

http://ranprieur.com/readings/illichcars.html

soren
Guest
soren

I’ve always believed that much of the opposition to e-scooters is rooted in conservatism and classism. (Accessibility and safety concerns, excepted.)

“62 percent of all Portlanders viewed e-scooters positively at the end of the pilot. Support was even higher among Portlanders under 35 (71 percent), people of color (74 percent), and those with incomes below $30,000 (66 percent).”

JJJ
Guest
JJJ

I don’t think they understand what the words “pilot program” mean

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

Ugh. The day the scooters return might be the day I give up biking for good. It’s gotten so bad out there, I’ve been considering it for a while now and the scooters are the last straw. Back to bussing I guess.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

By my back-of-the-envelope calculation, the city took in around $190,000 in revenue between the pilot fee and the $0.25 per trip.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

I didn’t see this called out so I’ll post it here. The most common complaint I hear about the scooters were their use on sidewalks, though the people who complain don’t seem to connect the dots as to why. Thankfully, PBOT has. They broke out the sidewalk riding by type of street and found a strong correlation:

– When riding on a street with a neighborhood greenway, zero percent of riders used the sidewalk.
– When riding on a street with a protected bike lane, 8 percent of riders used the sidewalk.
– When riding on a street with a bike lane, 21 percent of riders used the sidewalk.
– When riding on a street with no bike facilities, 39 percent of riders used the sidewalk.

When posted speed limits are 30 MPH or higher, most users rode illegally on the sidewalk.
– Where the speed limit is 20 mph, 18 percent of riders used the sidewalk.
– Where the speed limit is 30 mph, 50 percent of all riders used the sidewalk.
– Where the speed limit is 35 mph, 66 percent of riders used the sidewalk.

Tom
Guest
Tom

Quoting: “New data gathered by Multnomah County Health Department for PBOT show e-scooters were subject to risks similar to other ways of getting around. Scooter-related injuries (including injuries from non-motorized scooters) were a small portion of total traffic crash injuries, accounting for about 5 percent of the estimated 3,220 of total traffic crash injury visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers during the pilot period. ***Scooters generated 176 visits or less than half the 429 visits for bicycle-related injuries.***”

OK, so scooters produced less than half as many injuries as bicycles. Surely though there are far more than twice as many cycling trips taken during the pilot period? I’d be stunned if there weren’t at least 10 times more cycling trips than scooter trips. So wouldn’t this mean that people are getting injured on scooters at far higher rates than bicycles?

MTW
Guest
MTW

While I understand the discussion about sidewalk riding is important, I’m pretty confused by the comments regarding riding within the park (particularly waterfront park.) That seems like a “it’s against the rules because it’s against the rules” type comment in the above release.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

I would like to see the inner core of the city flooded with escooters turning the auto traffic to a 5 mph crawl . It would be like a negative feedback loop, the more scooters the worse traveling by car will be and the more people will switch to scooters and bikes. Kind of like the Dinosaurs being overwhelmed with a swarm of locusts.

Kate
Guest
Kate

While I haven’t ever had a need to use the scooters, and didn’t love dealing with unaware, weaving scooter riders in bike lanes and such — overall I think they make bicycle riders safer. Why? Because their general unpredictability made many drivers uncomfortable and forced them to drive more carefully and with more awareness. (I can’t tell you how many drivers complained about how they now had to be even more careful because of those crazy scooters!!). Introducing things that disrupt predictability (chicanes, for example) is a long practiced planning tool to make people slow down. I think this effect of scooters on the street outweighs any annoyance I would feel navigating around them.

Kathleen McDade
Guest
Kathleen McDade

Two things:

1. Nice to see a significant amount of blue in East Portland. Not like the central cluster, but definitely blue.

2. Have they said whether the second pilot will include all 3 companies again?

Ben
Guest
Ben

My main question is whether the Scooter companies will ever make enough money to be sustainable. Based on the $1 per trip + $.015/minute cost, I figure each scooter only yielded $235 in revenue before the city’s cut. That might be enough to cover the cost of the scooter itself, but certainly not enough to cover charging and rebalancing.

9watts
Subscriber

From the report:

“While a large portion of e-scooter trips replaced car and ride- hailing trips, e-scooters also replaced lower-emission trips. Thinking of their last e-scooter trip, 42 percent of Portlanders said they would have either walked (37 percent) or ridden a personal bicycle (5 percent) had e-scooters not been available.

Finally, e-scooter operations likely added personal motor vehicle trips to the transportation system, to deploy and retrieve e-scooters each day. The extent and overall impact to the transportation system and traffic congestion is unknown.”

In the annals of boosterism it shall be recorded that the pull quote indicating 34% of Portlanders intimated they would have used an auto instead of the e-scooter—affirming the top listed objective—is splashed everywhere, while the quotes above suggesting a higher percentage (42%) would have walked or biked, is buried on p. 20 of the report.

Columbo
Guest
Columbo

How come Bird, Lime, etc. aren’t required to provide adaptive scooters for the differently-abled? BIKETOWN has to; Uber and Lyft are required to provide wheelchair-capable vehicles. Why do the scooter companies get a free pass?

9watts
Subscriber

Chris I
Perhaps it is better to just stop complaining about scooters until there is actually something to complain about. At this point, we have minor annoyances, but no real public health or quality of life problem to discuss.Recommended 0

You are drawing the boundaries very narrowly indeed.

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact

JR
Guest
JR

Although e-scooter trips replaced some walking/biking/transit trips, it likely did so because someone wanted to get where they were going faster, and/or less sweaty. For some folks, they wanted to save money over a more expensive option such as an Uber/Lyft/etc and as a consequence they generated less carbon emissions. To look at e-scooters as better or worse than biking, walking, transit, carshare, and rideshare is missing a big part of the picture. e-scooters created another option that doesn’t require someone to own or park a private automobile. In some cases, e-scooters likely combined with other non-driving options to provide more affordable and viable mobility for folks. Given the millions of decisions that people in this region make every day on how they get from point A to point B, e-scooters appeal to many and provide a viable enhanced option to consider. This far outweighs many of the concerns about sharing space with them. From my personal experience, I would be lying to say sharing space with e-scooters made my transportation any more dangerous than existing pedestrian, bicycle, and automobile traffic. I’m looking forward to their return!

Rod B.
Guest
Rod B.

If BikePortland readers are concerned about e-scooters being used on the Eastbank Esplanade because they are not allowed as motorized electric vehicles, then they should also be pushing for enforcement to stop e-bikes, such as the increasing numbers of electric family bikes and cargo bikes. I ride the Esplanade daily on a regular bike and don’t mind the scooters or e-bikes, but fair is fair. Before we get too righteous about scooter users not following the law, I think we need to think about how we use our own favored mode to avoid hypocrisy.

Paul
Guest
Paul

I like the scooters in theory, but actually riding them didn’t seem all that great. I don’t understand why we aren’t moving to public eBikes instead. Compared to scooters, I find eBikes much more comfortable to ride and much easier to control. Plus they make it a lot easier to input some human power and get some exercise, in a way that is still not too taxing.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

About “speeds capped at 15 mph”: That’s not exactly been my experience. On a number of occasions I’ve ridden Lime scooters whose speedos indicated 17 or 18 mph on flat ground, often even into a light headwind. That’s actually REALLY fast.

While I support the scooter programs, I’d actually like to see them capped at an *actual* 12 mph. I would prefer to go 12 mph on them myself, but the on-off accelerator switches on these things require you to frantically pulse-and-glide to accomplish that. 12 mph would allow for a much improved reaction distance (for both scooter operators and nearby pedestrians), greatly reducing conflicts, and also hugely reduces the chance of serious injury. If the scooter’s wheel catches on something at 12 mph there’s a very good chance of landing on your feet. At 17 mph, much less likely.

q
Guest
q

Chris I
People commonly drive insanely short distances. For many Americans, the idea of walking even 1mi in an urban environment is daunting and/or strange.Recommended 20

I look at a park parking lot from my work window. I see people drive to the ticket pay station, park, get out and buy their ticket, get back in, drive literally no more than 30 feet to their parking space, and park. Then on their way out, they get in their car, drive 100 feet, park illegally in a no-parking zone in front of the restrooms to use the restrooms, then leave. This isn’t the unique occurance, it’s common.