Portland’s electric scooter pilot program was scheduled to end in April, but the Portland Bureau of Transportation announced Friday the program will extend until the end of 2020.
In a news release, PBOT said the program extension will provide the city more time to study the impacts of e-scooters on Portland’s transportation system.
“We think that there is potential for shared e-scooters to be one of our solutions in reducing congestion, reducing pollution and lowering our carbon footprint as a community,” said Dylan Rivera, a spokesperson for PBOT.
Along with continuing to study the environmental effects of the scooters, Rivera said the city will continue to look into how they are affecting historically underserved communities, like low income people, people of color, and people who live farther from public transit options.
"E-scooters have the potential to provide a convenient, climate-friendly transportation option for thousands of Portlanders, but safety is my top priority," Portland transportation commissioner Chloe Eudaly said in a statement.
She said riding on sidewalks and parking scooters irresponsibly were the biggest problems in 2018's e-scooter pilot program.
"I intend to monitor this pilot extension closely to ensure that e-scooters are used safely and responsibly in our shared public right-of-way," Eudaly said.
The extended program timeline will also afford the city more time to work on improving e-scooter safety, said Rivera.
He said PBOT has been working closely with Multnomah County Health Department, emergency rooms and individual health care providers to improve data on e-scooter injuries.
“The early figures we have from this year seem to indicate that e-scooters are, in terms of safety for the traveling public, in terms of crashes and injuries, e-scooters appear to be on par with other modes of transportation, but we want to take a closer look at the data and continue to work with public health officials,” said Rivera.
From April 26 to Nov. 30 of this year, Multnomah County Health Department identified 183 visits to emergency departments and urgent care clinics related to e-scooter usage. But, Rivera said, “that’s based on almost 1 million trips ridden from 1 million miles.”
PBOT also announced Friday an expansion of the number of e-scooters permitted to operate in the city.
One of the scooter programs’ companies, Spin, will be allowed to expand its fleet by almost 200 scooters, PBOT said, due to meeting certain program incentives such as having responsive communication with PBOT.
Those additional scooters could be deployed as soon as next week.
With that particular expansion, there are currently 2,865 permitted e-scooters from five companies in Portland’s program.
In the spring, Rivera said PBOT will release an e-scooter status report detailing its data collection.
“Because we have this strong role of city government and PBOT requiring the scooter companies to give us their data, we have more data on the use of e-scooters than any other city in North America and potentially any other city in the world,” Rivera said.
“So, we are able to show evidence of people using e-scooters in different sorts of environments — in East Portland where there’s wide streets and less access to public transit, as well as downtown.”
Rivera said that data could also affect other forms of transportation in the future.
“There’s also the potential for e-scooter use and data from e-scooters to influence future protected bike lanes, future neighborhood greenways and other facilities that can make our streets safer for anyone,” he said.