There are now 587 more electric scooters on Portland streets than this time last year. In the first 10 weeks of the current pilot program, the City of Portland says 16 of those scooters were involved in a collision.
We can confirm that at least two of those collisions involved a bicycle rider. There was the infamous collision during the recent protests downtown that was caught on tape by KGW News (watch it below).
And back in July, reader Mark Senf sent us the image at right. He witnessed two young men on one scooter (technically illegal) collide with a bicycle rider at the intersection of Naito Parkway and SW Harvey Milk. Senf said the woman who was riding the bike suffered cuts and bruises along with a fractured shoulder. She was carted away via ambulance and her husband stayed behind to handle the details.
Beyond the injuries, what worried Senf is what happened next: He said the husband was told by the responding police officer that they wouldn’t take a report because the collision was an accident and therefore a civil matter. “I was surprised by this,” Senf said. The woman’s husband reported the collision to the scooter company (Lime) and to the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
Given their increased presence it made us wonder how scooter/bike collisions are tracked and how insurance companies will respond to them.
In response to the question about collision data, PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said they partner with the Multnomah County Health Department. The County tracks ER and Urgent Care visits. “If a patient mentions an e-scooter was involved in the collision, it should get recorded,” Rivera said. If 911 is called and Portland Fire & Rescue responds, they may or may not collect the data. Rivera said they encourage people to report all collisions and injuries to PBOT via email@example.com.
What about insurance? Will you be compensated for injuries or damages if you are hit by an e-scooter user? We asked Cynthia Newton, a lawyer and partner at Thomas, Coon, Newton & Frost, the Portland firm that recently released an e-scooter legal guide.
Newton said these collisions fall into grey areas where, “No clear legal rules or precedent and no standard claims practices have been established.”
“If we consider an e-scooter a motor vehicle, this leads to the question of what, if any, insurance insures the scooter?”
— Cynthia Newton, lawyer
According to Oregon Revised Statutes, e-scooter operators are subject to provisions of the Vehicle Code. Newton adds that e-scooters aren’t specifically defined as motor vehicles in Oregon law but they would “most likely” be considered as such (as per ORS 801.448). “If we consider an e-scooter a motor vehicle,” Newton says, “This leads to the question of what, if any, insurance insures the scooter? And, what insurance might be available to compensate the injured cyclist here? What insurance will indemnify the scooter operator if the injured cyclist claims that the e-scooter operator was negligent in causing her injury?”
Since the scooter was a rental, Newton says insurance companies could treat it just like you were renting a car. But they might not. “This is new territory, and we are unaware of anyone successfully invoking auto coverage for a collision of this type.”
What about the scooter operator’s homeowner’s or renter’s insurance? Here’s what Newton thinks:
“Homeowner’s insurance does cover the homeowner’s negligence. And, we have been successful recovering funds from homeowner’s insurance where a cyclist collided with and injured another cyclist. However, most homeowner’s policies contain exclusions for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, which would preclude coverage here since the e-scooter is quite arguably a motor vehicle.”
Would the bicycle rider’s auto insurance help?
“Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage for medical expenses is required coverage in all Oregon policies and pays the insured’s losses when the insured is injured while cycling (because cyclists meet the definition of “pedestrian” in most policies). Here, the cyclist could make a PIP claim against her own auto coverage for her medical expenses and lost income. However, this coverage may not be enough to cover her bills and compensate her, since standard PIP medical is only $15,000 and standard PIP wage loss benefit 70% of income. Finally, the cyclist may look to the uninsured motorist coverage of her auto policy for additional compensation. Like PIP, UM coverage covers an insured when injured in a collision with a vehicle.”
In the end, Newton says it’s likely to take some time before insurance companies accept claims for e-scooter collisions. To hasten that timeline it might take persistence and effort from injured parties to scrutinize relevant laws and insurance policy language.
In the meantime, try to keep the rubber side down.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Generally a big fan of the scooters and e-bikes, but there’s going to be more of this. Got passed by an e-bike on the Esplanade at over 20 mph the other day on my right as I was passing two walkers on their left and brushed my shoulder, no bell, no words just a middle finger when called out.
i have had similar experiences with e-bikes on Interstate Ave and NE 26th- both places people just scorched by me with no warning and nowhere close to enough space. I think a 3′ passing rule should apply to anyone with a speed differential of 10 mph. The scooter issues I have are more cluelessness- people are having fun on them and they treat them and streets/bike lanes like places to play. that said, I kind of like it: people going fast, people having fun, but a bit of awareness is necessary.
Prediction: In 3-5 years, e-bikes and e-scooters will be regulated just like motorcycles are today. Operators will be licensed and also fined for violating the rules of the road. Operators will need to carry insurance. The vehicles themselves will have license tags and be registered and inspected. Cops will patrol on them, so they can enforce the rules. Cops on these vehicles will also chase down cyclists on regular bikes and ticket them, which will make many riders of non-powered bicycles rue the ascendancy of e-bikes.
E-bike and e-scooter operators should enjoy the unregulated operation of their vehicles for as long as it lasts, which won’t be long. E-two-wheelers in 2019 are like automobiles in 1899.
Pedal-assist bikes limited to 20mph by their control systems will continue to be unregistered and will not require licenses. Show me a country where this class of bike requires a license.
I get that these are annoying and potentially dangerous in careless hands, but for families, e-assist cargo bikes are a game changer. They are taking cars off of the road. If you require registration, that is just one more barrier to entry, and frankly, many families will just buy a car.
Actually, in Oregon, pedal assist is not written into the law. An electric bicycle merely has to have “fully operative pedals” in addition to an electric motor.
Cops won’t chase anyone down- Cops don’t enforce any traffic laws anymore.
I got a warning ticket at 8th and Division last week for crossing the tracks after a train had passed, and while the lights were still flashing. Apparently, you can’t cross at all when the lights are flashing? They were even getting drivers for going right as the gates started going up, but before the lights had stopped flashing. I couldn’t help but think to myself: “why are you here, enforcing this, when people are literally dying in east Portland?”
Are you suggesting the cop should have exhibited ‘discretion’?
You got a warning because it’s not against the law. You and the drivers did not violate ORS 811.455 because it only applies to approaching trains. If the train is leaving then you don’t have to wait for the lights any longer.
OK, the drivers might have, since the gate arm were still going up.
Yep…had my first near miss with an e-bike yesterday. I was walking across the street at an intersection near Downtown Bend. About halfway across five lanes, I saw a bike coming towards me in the bike lane that I was approaching. It did not worry me, because it was nearly a block away on a flat road, so it was going to take 20 seconds or more to reach me. No, it was a young girl on a fat E-bike going about 30 mph. She never even slowed, and I had to sprint across the bike lane to avoid getting hit. She was as clueless as a car driver, just looked at me, with zero expression. Have to re-calibrate my safe zone now.
That’s a common occurrence with all types of wheeled conveyances in the bike lanes on Multnomah in the Lloyd district. ZERO respect for people using the mid-block crosswalks. It’s best to assume that they are attempting to hit you, and plan accordingly.
I’ve noticed something curious in this thread- we all know that cars don’t have accidents, humans controlling the cars have collisions. And yet most of the comments state that “e-bikes” have done them wrong. It’s worth of a moment of consideration.
I think people can be complete jerks no matter what mode of transport they are using. E-bikes are scarier mostly because you’re not expecting them on a protected bikeway to be so fast and quarters are tight. But that’s the same jerk who is putting lives at risk by passing cyclists on a narrow greenway because they can’t deal with moving safely for the surrounding conditions. I’m definitely not excusing either behavior, but I don’t think it’s the mode of transportation — I think it’s the user who has no disregard for the community they are co-existing with.
Like any “tech bro” transportation gimmick, scooters are just a worse versions of already established things, in this case, a bicycle.
Sorry everyone, they are not “convenient”, they do not reduce car trips, etc. They will soon be in a landfill and are just another mode by which corporations can profit off lazy, instant gratification driven people who can’t even handle the responsibility of owning and using something as basic a bicycle. They are the uber of “active” transportation and the sooner this fade passes the better.
I’ve used them in strange cities when traveling and I am a bit ashamed to say I LOVE THEM. I used them in Paris a couple times and they are cheaper, faster and way more fun than walking, the metro or a car. I used them in Boise and they were equally rad. Since then I’ve used them in portland. Like… take one to river city at lunch to buy bike parts… They are pretty rad. I use them as irresponsibly as I use my bike. As a guy that rides to work everyday and rides for fun a TON on the MTB or gravel bike or god forbid the road bike – scooters are kinda rad for weird quick trips or seeing new cities.
As.a pedestrian who had my ribs bruised by a scooter rider on a downtown sidewalk there was nothing “rad” about that experience. Not in the least.
“they are cheaper, faster and way more fun than walking…”
Cheaper than walking?
I look forward to your math.
Time is money. On business trips in strange cities being able to shave 60 minutes off of a 90 minute walk is a huge financial win for me and my company. I could also use ride sharing, public transit, or rent a car, but the ability to take the scooter exactly where I need to be makes a huge difference. So yes, in certain cases, scooters are cheaper than walking.
i lurking to see the math too….
“On business trips in strange cities being able to shave 60 minutes off of a 90 minute walk is a huge financial win for me and my company.”
90min walk? on a business trip? what?
just let us allow for hyperbole and call it.
i see you don’t walk much. a 5-6 mile walk in a city could easily take 90 mins.
I was responding to:
“Time is money. On business trips…being able to shave 60mins off a 90min walk…”
“time is money” and accepting (prior to the advent of scooters!) a 3hr roundtrip stroll to see a client are mutually disqualifying concepts.
I’m legitimately curious what percentage if tips are done by walking 5-6 miles.
Yesh, I’m certainly glad we don’t have to contend with illegitimate inquiries….
I would consider this an “instant gratification” mindset towards traveling and propagating a shallow, rude, and privileged tourist culture.
I also commute everyday and ride a ton for fun, if I need to run somewhere at lunch I just ride my bike. We have an electric cargo bike and I actually AVOID using it when our trip is short enough. My son often wants to ride in it just even to our neighborhood park where we can easily walk or ride standard bikes, not everything needs to be a fast and “rad” experience.
It just occurred to me the other day that the escooters are alot like the electric carving knife fad that popped up in the 70’s. Doing something that can be done better with a good old fashioned tool and only exist to appeal to those who don’t have the discipline to learn how to operate and maintain a tool that has refined over a long time for maximum efficiency. They will end up the same place in future yard sales.
I shudder to think. Next big fad: Hoverbikes.
You can clearly see in the video that the light is red for the scooter. This culture of lawlessness on US streets is just mind-boggling.
Not only is the light red, the scooter rider is going the wrong way on a one way street. Clueless.
so..in scooters defense, since she was going wrong way, perhaps she couldn’t see that she had a red light? boom…infrastructure fail 🙂
These scooters have an amazing technology that somehow shuts off the brain of the user. And we were totally lied to about any rules being enforced.
Jonathan, RU having second thoughts about shared mass e-scooterization?
I’m having more thoughts, but I’m still a fan. Just because we haven’t gotten it right, doesn’t mean the idea is bad. We still don’t have anywhere safe for people to ride the scooters and we are still tweaking the policy piece of it. Oh, and we still let drivers run amok so IMO scooter use is relatively chill.
Copenhagen could be an interesting case study to keep an eye on. I saw these types of electric scooters all over the center on my visit a few weeks ago, whereas they were still not in existence during my previous visit in summer of 2017. They weren’t a menace, but I was not a fan sharing the bike paths with them especially during rush hour. But the bigger issue was how people were just leaving them all over the place. The sidewalks were often cluttered with them in untidy ways, and sometimes people would even leave them partially or entirely in the bike path, which was quite dangerous when you are cycling around 20-30 other people. There’s apparently a big discussion of whether they should continued to be allowed there or not.
“we”…as in “we haven’t gotten it right yet” is a tad optimistic.
MAAS is a cool arena but there is no “we” so long as private equity is allowed to strew disposable pieces of plastic on our sidewalks and hide injury rates thru NDAs. current program design is that the scooters pay for themselves w/in ~ 20days of usage (+/-) so that they effectively become a free option on revenue.
there is no “we”..currently its “US” waxing rhapsodically about these RAD!! pieces of very near future landfill while naively hoping to “get it right” and “THEM” the PE groups who are simply looking to get to the next round of financing with the oh-so-higher valuation.
Jonathan – thanks for the update on your thoughts.
While I’m open to having e-scooters around, all too often the users operate them like idiots. Similar to above comments, I was passed from behind on a downtown sidewalk at probably 10 mph, and the guy brushed my sleeve as he went by. Had no idea I was being overtaken, and if I had moved sideways just a foot, I would have been mowed down. For the same reason you’re not allowed to ride bikes on sidewalks in the downtown, it should apply to scooters as well.
E-scooters are never allowed on sidewalks.
raise your hand if you have ever seen someone in a car driving the wrong way downtown
I tried to get insurance for my e-bike and they wanted to write a motorcycle policy, which was ridiculous.
Both of these crashes were caused by infrastructure.
How is infrastructure to blame, when the scooter runs a red light going the wrong way on a one way street??
Cars drive the wrong way all of the time, but a higher percentage of e-scooter riders seem to be riding the wrong way. I normally disagree with Toby up above, but I think his comment about e-scooters disabling the rider’s brain is adept.
Given how common it is for cyclists to salmon (particularly if they’re infrequent cyclists or not familiar with the area), I’m not surprised that e-scooter riders are going the wrong way. There’s definitely the misunderstanding that cyclists should follow “pedestrian if no sidewalk” rules and go against the flow–and that misunderstanding would naturally apply to e-scooters too.
Maybe this is more of a PIP question than an e-scooters in Oregon question but at least someone can point me in a better direction?
My auto insurance agent told me yesterday “personal injury coverage provides coverage for you anytime you are hit by a car which includes if you are a pedestrian or cyclist.” To me that excludes the e-scooter situation. Anyone agree or disagree? Is this a case where PIP really varies despite any Oregon or Portland law?
I’ve driven the wrong way downtown. It wasn’t the road’s fault.
What’s wrong with a motorcycle policy? For $150 a year, my crotch rocket is insured if I hit someone. Covers everything except the farings. A real bargain.
Agreed, I have insurance on my ebike and can use my ebike without care of it being stolen and then being out thousands of dollars. Instead $50 deductible and I’m whole again. Seems like a deal to me… Plus, if I ever crash and damage my bike, injure someone, I’m covered for $50.
How much liability coverage do you get for $150 per year? Enough to cover a 2-week ER stay and disability lawsuit if you maim someone?
Even an auto policy is not going to be enough to cover a 2-week stay in the ER. If you want that kind of cover, then you need to get an umbrella policy. But a regular motorcycle policy will cover the vast majority of collisions.
My unscientific impression is that many people riding these scooters have no or little experience riding in a city. City bicyclists would likely make good scooter riders, non-cyclists have A LOT to learn and can go far too fast for learning without harm.
Yeah, I put a lot of scooter riders in the same category as Biketown and e-bike riders. Give them a wide birth, because they may be just learning how to operate the equipment. This is a good rule of thumb for Uber/Lyft drivers too.
Not just here, I saw a young man on a Lime scooter run through a red light and broadside a girl on an Uber Jump Bike crossing with pedestrians right by the Louvre in Paris this summer. Luckily those bikes are heavy, the boy took the brunt of it and went flying onto his chest. The girl didn’t look like she even got totally knocked down. It was shockingly loud though, both the gasps and screams of those around and the actual crash itself.
If they can make autopilot for Teslas, a scaled down version that automatically slows or stops these things at red lights or when crossing bikeways or crosswalks has to be feasible with the tech already in them.
“they wouldn’t take a report because the collision was an accident”
What does that even mean?
Would the cop make a similarly cavalier judgment about other types of collisions? And if not why not?
Great point, 9watts, and I’d two further points:
1) Jonathan recently shared an article about the development of automobile protocols and how insurance, police patrols, etc evolved to bring order to what was rapidly becoming unmanageable chaos. These protocols elevated the automobile to the special realm it now inhabits in modern life. I mean, just think of how much of our public-safety dollars go toward managing automobile traffic. Why should this one element of the transportation sector enjoy such special status?
2) Portland police are notorious for doing nothing unless they absolutely have to. Try calling them to your house, for example, to talk about almost any crime-related issue, and they’ll tell you it’s either not a problem or they can’t do anything about it. And in the absence of clear protocols (see #1 above), they have no reason to do anything.
But I don’t think that really captures what is going on.
Maybe Motor Head: those who get around using fossilized sunshine automatically get a pass, unless they are obviously drunk.
That’s a good one! I nominate it for phrase of the week.
You know they have a little card that says ‘Exchange information our work here is done’? Ok, joke, it’s actually tattooed on the inside of their eyelids.
Scooters are the Maseratis of the young, broke and evidently stoned.
E-scooters are a F-ing scourge. E-scooter riders have the same sense of entitlement and not giving a s— about anyone around them as drivers.
No, I sound like a 21st-century cyclist complaining about cars. I have no faith that this will “get figured out,” especially when the cops won’t even take a report because a collision was an accident. WTF does that even mean?!
Fortunately, the scooters can do significantly less damage. 20lbs vs. 5000lbs.
that scooters can do “significantly less damage” than a car solves nothing nor is it the point. pls find the bike rider mentioned above and console her fractured shoulder with “yea, but if it was a car blowing the light going the wrong way, u could be dead….so….this is a better thing….”
FWIW, as a slow cyclist it’s VERY common to be passed too fast too close without warning by cyclists in a hurry in busy bike lanes, both Vancouver-Williams & eastbound off the Hawthorne bridge up to 12th.
Auto insurance is a lousy solution. We’ve done the shopping, and non-owner policies are consistently more expensive than insuring a car that you can actually use. I could cause some damage on a bike or scooter, but the main concern is hit-and-run/uninsured motorists. You can’t get financial protection from that unless you’re in the drivers’ club, though.
Maybe this is a niche situation in Portland, but it’s definitely common elsewhere (and the majority in Manhattan.) We are not a small market.
Serious suggestion–maybe get a friend who doesn’t drive much to add you to their policy as an occasional user of their car? I have not researched this but additional insurance is often pretty cheap.
It’s crazy that bike riders can’t get insurance without a car being involved.
I assume that insurance industry lobbyists are watching the numbers closely and have their -prewritten legislation already copypasted such that once their calculated (secret) profit model shifts from “remarkably lucrative” (which wouldn’t be worth their time) to “obscenely filthy” they will call up their favorite lawmakers to pass laws on-demand requiring whatever they can get away with and we’ll all have to accept it and adapt the best we can. They will have already factored in how best to exploit each varied income level and come up with something each sector will grudgingly bear.
Bill Walton would look terrific on a e-scoot!
is police “unwillingness” to take a report at all related to the ceding of monitoring legal use of scooters to the scooter companies that BP reported on last march? wasn’t that one of the features of the new roll-out…that scooter issues should be directed to companies and NOT the police?
Scooters will fade as
Rain and wind return to town
Streets will be calm then
E-scooters seem to be very popular with visitors to Portland. Those of us who work downtown see these folks riding them in the downtown area everywhere—notably even on sidewalks and in the middle of the road. One colleague points out that you rarely see a rider who is not smiling. Outside the central city area, e-scooters are great for riding that “last mile”—from the last stop on the commuter’s bus route to home. As Portland’s pathways for vulnerable users continue to evolve and improve, with more and more protected pathways and updated roadway markings, e-scooter riders—in the city core and outside it—will be better equipped and encouraged to ride these fun and functional devices where and how they were intended. In the meantime, here are 10 simple rules to remember when e-scootering:
+ An e-scooter is a “vehicle” in the Oregon Vehicle Code and generally all traffic laws apply to it like other vehicles.
+ E-scooters may be operated like other vehicles, but not on sidewalks.
+ E-scooters may be ridden at speeds up to 15 mph on the public way.
+ E-scooters must use the bike lane if there is one and have the right of way just like a bicycle.
+ E-scooters may travel on any road with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.
+ E-scooters may take the lane unless it slows down other traffic and then like bicycles must travel as far to the right (or left on a one-way street) as “practicable”.
+ Any person over 16 can ride an e-scooter on a public road.
+ E-scooter riders must wear a helmet but lack of a helmet may not be used against the rider in an injury case in court if there is a wreck.
+ E-scooters may ride solo but may not carry passengers.
+ E-scooters can ride in parks on the roads but not on state park trails.
“+ E-scooters may travel on any road with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.”
Given that many of Portland’s streets have posted speed limits over 25 mph, this is absurd.
Why did you get stopped? It was railroad property. Railroads have jurisdiction along and on any track. They are the law on their property by federal statue dating back 150 years. The cop might be in a Portland uniform, but they work for the railroads during off hours. NEVER get stopped by a cop on railroad property. You will end up in court and what would be jaywalking any other time is just shy of a felony. I speak from experience on this. Always be careful in SE.
Stop being mean, sounds like Bradie needs a hug. He’s mad because people who normally can’t keep up with him on a bike can get one that helps them keep up. He also is generalizing, which mom taught him is a no-no. Love yah Brady-boo
“the collision was an accident and therefore a civil matter”
So you’re operating your vehicle legally when somebody operating a motor vehicle illegally crashes into you resulting in your being sent to the hospital via ambulance and the police brush it off as if you tripped on the sidewalk?
I would have called 911 again right there and asked them to send a real officer because I believed that the current one was not a real police officer. Then I would have filed all kinds of negligence complaints against the PPB.
That PPB response is simply unacceptable.
The scooters don’t replace car trips. More scooters get destroyed and thrown away then cars. None of the mechanics know anything about fixing scooters( or even bikes) or actual liability when it comes to motor vehicle repair so nearly every scooter is a safety concern( oh the scooter got run over by a car and the forks bent, mechanics manager of lime” well if the wheels tire isn’t touching the footboard, send it back out” total negligence. I’ve worked in this industry. The reason all of the scooters are blocking the sidewalks and remain parked incorrectly are merely because the scooter employees are too lazy to get out of their rental vans and re-park the scooters correctly. Watch them drive their vans like maniacs btw it’s fun. The spin rebalancers just throw the scooter in their trailer which causes a lot of damage and makes the battery cells a total liability to even charge yet alone ride.