News Release: The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announces new recommendations for permanent e-scooter system in Portland

Press release

New model foresees long-term contracts with one to three operators.

Bureau will now begin public engagement process to seek input from Portlanders

Published

(Sept. 14, 2020) Today, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) released recommendations for a permanent electric scooter (e-scooter) system in Portland when the current pilot ends December 2020. PBOT is recommending contracting with a limited number of e-scooter companies. Currently, the city permits five e-scooter companies to operate in the city.

These recommendations come after comprehensive analysis of e-scooter ridership in 2019 which PBOT is also releasing today. With this announcement and the publication of its analysis, PBOT will begin gathering public input from Portlanders and may amend the recommendations based on the public’s feedback. PBOT plans to engage stakeholders and organizations representing people with disabilities, communities of color, pedestrians, and others. Presenting these recommendations to its key community advisory committees, including its bicycle, pedestrian, and budget advisory committees, is also a central element of PBOT's outreach. Finally, PBOT will also present these recommendations to City Council next month.

What did PBOT find from analyzing e-scooter use in Portland? Some key highlights:

  • Most Portlanders rented e-scooters on weekend afternoons and evenings as well as commute times during the week.
  • Most e-scooter trips are for just over a mile and take less than 14 minutes.
  • A large percentage of trips (68%) started and ended downtown.
  • When Portlanders had the option of a bike lane, many used it instead of riding on the sidewalk.
  • People rode e-scooters in almost every part of the city. Ridership also grew noticeably in places like East Portland after PBOT installed safer riding infrastructure.
  • E-scooter riders traveled 415,000 miles.
  • PBOT has made strides providing an equitable scooter system by requiring companies to makes scooters available in East Portland. This was an important first step, but much more is needed. PBOT is looking to deepen partnerships between scooter companies and community-based groups. This is needed to help keep costs low and remove other barriers.
  • The more Portlanders use e-scooters, the better they are at following the rules of the road. More riders are staying off sidewalks. And more are parking their e-scooters out of the way of pedestrians. There are still challenges, but the trend is in the right direction.
A map showing E-scooter trip distances by pattern area.

Based on the report's results, PBOT now considers long-term contracts with a limited set of companies to have a strong potential to improve the system and increase ridership. Taking this step would also be an effective way to ensure that scooters meet Portland’s goals for safety, equity, and climate action.

“With fewer companies, we can expand and deepen the partnerships we have with those companies,” said Transportation Director Chris Warner. “Just as importantly, city staff can focus on innovations and expanding equity in the system. This same model has performed well with the city’s BIKETOWN bike-share program, and I believe it will work equally well with e-scooters.”

With long-term contracts in place, PBOT believes it would be in a stronger position to make the system safer and influence the behavior of e-scooter riders for the better. PBOT also foresees lower costs to administer the program. Finally, with fewer companies, PBOT anticipates e-scooter companies being more responsive to what Portlanders need and how the public wants to use scooters to get around.

PBOT’s  e-scooter report can be found here: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/escooterpdx/2019-e-scooter-report-and-next-steps

PBOT also created a new E-Scooter Trips Dashboard. This dashboard lets people explore e-scooter data on their own:: https://www.portland.gov/transportation/escooterpdx/pbots-e-scooter-trips-dashboard

PBOT would also like to hear from Portlanders about this new approach. PBOT launched a survey about its e-scooter program here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/96P2B73