PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly will take over the city’s massive transportation bureau in September, putting her in charge of regulating the new electric scooters that have flooded city streets and sidewalks.
We’re just a few weeks into the pilot program for the scooters and Eudaly said she has mixed feelings so far.
On one hand, Eudaly said she supports the idea of making streets friendlier for pedestrians – including people who hop on scooters.
“I, to some degree, like the fact the city all of a sudden feels like an adult playground,” Eudaly said during an appearance on Straight Talk with Laural Porter.
On the other hand, Eudaly said she’s been discouraged by the number of people who disregard the scooter rules. Scooter riders in Portland are required to stay off the sidewalk, wear a helmet and must be at least 18 years old.
Eudaly said she hasn’t seen a single rider wearing a helmet.
“I’m also very concerned with the level of disregard users are showing for pedestrians, leaving these scooters all over city sidewalks in really inconvenient places that are going to create or have created safety hazards and barriers for people with mobility challenges or vision impairments,” Eudaly said.
“They don’t need more obstacles in a city that’s as far behind on ADA compliance as we are,” she added.
Eudaly and her fellow city commissioners will be able to control the future of scooters in Portland – or nix the program altogether.
The scooters are currently allowed on Portland streets under a pilot program that runs until Nov. 20, 2018. The Portland Bureau of Transportation will evaluate the pilot program, and then city council will get the final word if they can stay, according to Eudaly.
The city council may have a hard time reining in the scooter program if they choose to do so. Earlier this week, Willamette Week obtained numbers from PBOT that show scooters have gotten progressively more popular each week they’ve been on Portland streets.
For example, there were 8,642 scooter rides across the city on Friday, Aug. 17. A week prior, there were 6,638 rides and just 3,969 rides the Friday prior to that.
Eudaly said the top complaint she hears about scooters involves riders ignoring traffic laws. It’s something she’s witnessed.
“I was recently driving through the Mississippi neighborhood on the way to a shop and within five blocks I saw three people breaking traffic laws,” she said. “If there are no cars around, I understand maybe being a little carefree on your scooter, but there were cars and there were scooters stopped in the middle of the street, riding the wrong way down the street.”
Given her concerns, is Eudaly leaning against extending the scooter program in Portland?
“I wouldn’t say that,” Eudaly said. “But if we continue this it needs to come with a big public education campaign so we can keep people safe.”