A Guide to Renting an E-scooter in Portland

What started as a four-month experimental program by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has returned to another year-long pilot program. The electric scooters or e-scooters began running the city streets in 2018 and since then have been used by locals and visitors to explore Portland. Like the city’s Biketown, a bike-sharing service, e-scooter sharing allows users to rent vehicles using a mobile application for one-way trips.

Electric motors power these e-scooters and max out at fifteen miles per hour. They are excellent alternatives to cars as scooters are energy-efficient. As you might see, sustainability is evident in Portland. In most cases, restaurants source fresh ingredients from local farmers. Additionally, some people go to and from work using bicycles. So it is no secret that e-scooters have thrived in the city since its initial pilot program in 2018.

What are the best e-scooter rental companies in Portland?

What are the best e-scooter rental companies in Portland

You do not need to roam the streets of Portland to find e-scooters, as they are available with just a few taps from your mobile phone. About four e-scooter companies operate in the city, deploying their fleets on Portland roads…

  • Lime

These are the green scooters you see on Portland streets. Lime is one of the largest e-scooter providers, with fleets spread across 200 cities in close to 30 countries on five continents. The mobile application is available for Android and iOS download.

  • Bolt

The ones with yellow and black on scooters are from another e-scooter provider, Bolt. A little trivia about the brand, this was co-founded by Olympian Usain Bolt. One of the more popular e-scooters they have is the Bolt Chariot, which has a 25+ mile range, swappable battery, and a phone holder with a USB charging port.

  • Spin

Spin provides the orange e-scooters you see on Portland roads. You can see their scooters at designated biking and scooter areas, on sidewalks, or at Spin Hubs, where charging, and parking stations can be seen.

  • Bird

Black scooters on the city streets belong to another e-scooter provider, Bird. Like the other three e-scooter providers in Portland, you can rent Bird e-scooters through their mobile application for iOS and Android downloads.

E-scooter rental costs

E-scooter rental costs Portland Oregon

In most cases, it will cost you about $1 to unlock the e-scooter and $.15 per minute. Other providers will ask for your credit card information, while some require you to load a balance of either $10, $20, or $50 before you can ride.

In terms of driver’s license, Bird will ask you to scan your driver’s license while Lime does not.

Road Rules for E-Scooters

Road Rules for e-scooters

Like cars, bicycles, and other modes of transportation, one also needs to abide by some rules when riding an e-scooter.

  • Ensure to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter. An Oregon law could lead to a citation and a $25 fine if violated. There are helmets for rent in bike shops like the Cycle Portland Bike Tours and Pedal Bike Tours.
  • As with any other vehicle, e-scooter riders must always yield to pedestrians.
  • Avoid riding e-scooters on sidewalks. It is not allowed. You can only position the e-scooters on the sidewalk for parking, or they are being walked.
  • Ride e-scooters on the bicycle lane. Also, you can use the vehicle lane when there are no bike lanes available. Suppose you cannot spot bike lanes around you, ride the e-scooter on the right side of the lane, closest to the sidewalk.
  • Park your e-scooters on the curb. Avoid blocking the sidewalk with the e-scooter. Riders need to park the e-scooters on the sidewalk closest to the curb. They should not in any way obstruct pedestrian traffic. Additionally, ensure that the e-scooters are not blocking access to sidewalk wheelchair ramps.
  • Do not experiment with riding with additional people, as one scooter is for one person only.
  • Enjoy and ride with caution. E-scooting should be fun and sustainable, they say. Be courteous and considerate to pedestrians, other travelers, and people with disabilities. Avoid reckless driving that could injure you and others.
  • Portland Parks is off-limits for e-scooter riding. This includes the Springwater Corridor Trail.
  • Avoid riding under the influence as they are illegal and can result in a DUII (driving under the influence of intoxicants.
  • Portland prohibits bringing of e-scooters on public transit, like buses, streetcars, and MAX Light Rail. You need to park the e-scooters in designated parking areas after using them.

What are the E-scooter routes in Portland?

What are the E-scooter routes in Portland

As has been said, some areas in the city are off-limits for e-scooters. Here are some of the major routes the city has approved for e-scooters.

Downtown Portland

  • SW 3rd Avenue
  • SW 5th Avenue
  • SW 13th Avenue
  • SW Oak Street
  • SW Harvey Milk Street
  • SW Jefferson Street
  • SW Madison Street
  • SW Main Street
  • SW Naito Parkway

Pearl District

  • SW 14th Avenue – NW 14th Avenue
  • SW 2nd Avenue – NW 2nd Avenue
  • NW 3rd Avenue to SW 3rd Avenue
  • NW Broadway/NW Lovejoy

SE Portland

  • E Burnside Street
  • Morrison Bridge
  • Tilikum Crossing
  • SE Water Avenue
  • SE 7th Avenue
  • SE Hawthorne Boulevard
  • SE Madison Street
  • SE Belmont Street

NE Portland

  • NE Irving Street
  • NE Broadway/NE Weidler St. and Broadway Bridge

North Portland

  • N Vancouver Avenue
  • N Williams Avenue

FAQs for e-scooter rentals in Portland

FAQs for e-scooter rentals in Portland

Where are specific parking areas for e-scooters?

Ideally, it would help park them on the sidewalk, closest to the curb. They must be out of the way of pedestrian traffic. Avoid parking them in the following areas:

  • Traffic lanes, bike lanes, transit platforms, medians, etc.
  • Within five feet of fire hydrants, bicycle rack, crosswalk, driveway, drinking fountain, alley, marked loading zones, disabled parking spaces, ADA ramps, etc.
  • Within thirty feet of bus stops
  • Anywhere that can cause damage to landscaping.

How fast can electric scooters go?

In most cases, electric scooters can speed up at 24 MPH. However, the city of Portland requires e-scooter providers to cap speeds at 15 MPH. This is also a way to prevent accidents caused by over speeding. Some e-scooters do not have monitor screens to track your speed; some have.

How old does a rider have to be to ride the e-scooter?

You need to be at least 18 years old to ride an e-scooter legally.

Are turn signals necessary when riding an e-scooter?

Yes. Sure, scooters do not come with lights like cars. However, it does not mean you do not need to inform people on the road where you are going. After all, you are sharing those roads with them. Hand turn signals, similar to riding a bike, are necessary.

These turn signals can help you safely navigate Portland roads with e-scooters:

  • Turn your left hand out, with an elbow to the hand faced downwards. It should look like an upside-down “L.”
  • Right turn. Turn your left hand out, with an elbow to the hand faced upwards, similar to an “L.” If you are not comfortable using it, you can have your right hand extended out.
  • Left turn. Extend your left arm precisely perpendicular to your body.

Do I need to have lights on the e-scooter at night?

Like bicycles used at night, e-scooters should have appropriate lighting when operating at night or in areas with low visibility. Most e-scooter providers in Portland have lights installed.

Can two people ride on one e-scooter?

Some scooters may seem too big for a single person that you may decide to let another person ride with you. However, you need to note that Portland only allows one rider per e-scooter. Avoid violating this rule as this might cost you fines.

What types of paths are passable for e-scooters?

What types of paths are passable for e-scooters?

As you may know, Portland designates areas and paths for e-scooters. These include the following:

  • Multi-Use paths. Motor vehicles cannot pass by these areas. The only vehicles allowed here are bikes and e-scooters.
  • Bike lanes. These dedicated lanes with wide shoulders have higher levels of traffic. E-scooters can pass by these areas, but riders need to be cautious as there are no barriers between the bike lanes and the motorized traffic.
  • Buffered, protected bike lanes. Concrete street partitions or delineator posts are barriers from motorized traffic and you. These physical barriers provide more safety than the standard bike lanes.
  • Neighborhood greenways. These roads have directional signs and pavement markings with low traffic.
  • Shared roadways. These roads have lower speeds and low traffic making it safer for e-scooter riders.

Final Thoughts

This might still be experimental, and the chances of adding more fleets in the city will depend on many variables. However, e-scooters make commuting more accessible, especially to residents who opt for much faster travel. With Portland’s aim to keep practicing sustainability, it is just a matter of time before these e-scooters will be one of the main transportation options for locals, just like what happened to bicycles.

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