In Portland, Scooter Start-Ups Played Nice. Regulators Took Note.



In Portland, Scooter Start-Ups Played Nice. Regulators Took Note.

The e-scooter boom began in Santa Monica, Calif., about 16 months ago. Electric scooters, owned by start-ups looking to mimic the success of ride-hailing companies like Uber, appeared around town. The idea was simple: Use a smartphone app to rent a scooter and then leave it at the end of the ride for the next person.

Soon, people in cities from San Francisco to Paris were complaining that the scooters were all over sidewalks — usually without the approval of local officials.

In Portland, Ore., city officials worried that they would soon get their own flock of uninvited scooters. So they established a four-month pilot program in July with a limit on scooters and a requirement that companies share detailed data about trips and injuries with city officials.

That data, released Tuesday by the city’s Bureau of Transportation, offers the most detailed analysis of the impact of e-scooters on a city. Scooters often replaced short car trips in Portland, offering some support for one of the biggest selling points the companies have made to communities: They can help reduce congestion and pollution. And the scooters did not lead to as many injuries as some had feared.

“A lot of these companies roll into town, flout local regulations, see what they can get away with and how far they can push cities to accommodate them,” said Chloe Eudaly, a Portland city commissioner. “I feel like there is somewhat of a reversal of that trend among these companies and they are learning that’s not necessarily the best way to do business.”