PDX Electric Scooter Pilot a Success

PDX Electric Scooter Pilot a Success

by David Reed

As Director of Sales for Zagster, David Reed is on a mission to bring bike transportation to cities and universities across North America. And he doesn’t just talk the talk: David, himself, cycles to work every day, even in the winter.

Dave Reed.jpg

David Reed

Director of Sales

The city of Portland, Oregon’s Bureau of Transportation released the findings of its recent four-month electric scooter share pilot program on Tuesday. The findings offer a ton of encouragement for the shared mobility community. Let’s take a look.

The headline from the report is that “the pilot showed the potential of a small, light, electric, shared vehicle to move people quickly and easily without adding to Portland traffic.” Also noteworthy: nearly two-thirds of all Portland residents viewed the scooters favorably, a number that increased among residents who were younger, of color or of lower income. Most riders (71 percent) said they used the scooters for transportation rather than recreation or exercise, and that those rides replaced car or ride-hailing trips—good news for those of us trying to get people out of cars, which can inhibit interaction with the community. Riders preferred to use low-speed streets or bike lanes. And the pilot drew new users to microtransit: almost three-quarters of local scooter users had never used the city’s bikeshare service, and almost half never cycle.

Nearly two-thirds of all Portland residents viewed the scooters favorably.

That these results occurred during the scooter madness of the summer of 2018 is even more encouraging and offers solid validation of the value of scooter and service providers working hand-in-hand with local officials to ensure a good experience.

The program did hit some speed bumps. Distribution among black and low-income riders wasn’t as high as the city wanted as part of its equity goals, and many riders were unaware of the fact that scooters aren’t allowed in the city’s parks, which led to some friction between non-riding park users and scooter riders. Parking of some scooters in off-limits areas presented a problem.

Still, the results are encouraging enough—some 700,000 trips covering more than 800,000 miles in just four months—that the report encouraged the operation of a second pilot program, in 2019. The report states that the bureau will solicit more input from users and the public through the month of February and anticipates using that input to inform decisions on scooter and permitting laws, and that electric scooter share should be back on the streets of the Rose City in early spring.