Disability rights group alarmed by Portland e-scooter rules

Combined Shape

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A disability rights nonprofit group in Oregon filed a letter of complaint Thursday with the city of Portland over new rules about an electric scooter pilot program.

In its letter, Disability Rights Oregon said Portland’s decision to have residents file complaints about the ubiquitous e-scooters directly with the companies participating in the program instead of with the city reduces transparency and increases danger to the public.

Portland just began a second, yearlong phase of the pilot program intended to help the progressive city introduce the devices while avoiding pitfalls experienced by some other major U.S. metropolises.

It allows up to 2,500 of the devices on city streets from multiple companies as part of the “micro-mobility revolution” that’s swept through major U.S. cities.

A four-month experiment with the e-scooters last year was successful but also generated 6,000 complaints and raised questions about pedestrian safety and the impact of the devices on public spaces like parks. The scooters also led to 176 visits to the emergency room or urgent care, the city said.

Trending:
Fred Weinberg: Getting Rid of Liz Cheney Is the Start to Taking Back Our Government

Electric scooters have surged in popularity in cities across the U.S. as a convenient, environmentally friendly mode of transportation for short trips that can otherwise be clogged with traffic. A report released last month by the National Association of City Transportation Officials said riders took 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters in 2018, eclipsing the 36.5 million trips on shared, docked bicycles.

Last year, Portland residents could file complaints with the city about scooters. Now, the companies themselves are required to maintain complaint lines 24/7 and must report data to the city each month.

The information is reported with names and details stripped out, said Emily Cooper, the nonprofit’s legal director, and companies have an incentive to downplay any serious issues.

“If someone was hurt or someone needs help, there’s no way for the city to know that based on the way they structured this agreement,” she said. “The city shouldn’t look at safety at arm’s length.”

Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Brianna Orr, a transportation specialist with the city, said in an email to Disability Rights Oregon that the city wasn’t able to respond quickly enough to complaints in the first phase of the pilot program. Now, for example, participating companies must respond to abandoned scooters blocking sidewalks and curb ramps within 60 minutes, she said.

The city will audit response times of the companies and the monthly reports will be public record, Orr said in the email, which was shared with the AP by the nonprofit.

In famously progressive Portland, e-scooters are an important part of the city’s drive to reduce traffic and encourage alternative modes of transportation, from light rail to bike commuting.

But like Portland, cities across the U.S. have struggled to accommodate the devices while regulating safety and access for people in lower income neighborhoods.

Related:
Tesla 'Driver' Arrested After Highway Patrol Officer Spots Him Riding in Back Seat

San Francisco, for instance, kicked out Bird, Lime and Spin and instituted a competition for permits, ultimately awarding them to relative underdogs Scoot and Skip and capping the number of scooters that could be deployed.

New York City does not allow shared electric scooters, although legislation has been introduce to change the rule.

____

Follow Gillian Flaccus on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gflaccus

___

This story has been corrected to say 6,000 complaints were filed involving electric scooters, not 600

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →






We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




Conversation