TriMetiquette: Electric Scooter Edition

Apr 26, 2019

Starting April 26th, electric scooters will once again descend upon our streets.

The city has authorized 2,500 of them —  which is about 500 more than last year. If companies comply with incentives like reducing illegal parking and increasing ridership in East Portland, that number may jump to 15,000 by January.

In the short amount of time that they graced our roads last year, Portlanders took over 700,000 trips on electric scooters. Most people were happy about the new transportation option and excited to hop on a scooter instead of into their car. However, even though less than .03% of rides ended in reported injuries, there were some concerns about safety. After all, it wasn’t uncommon to see helmetless riders blatantly ignoring the rules of the road.

There’s no denying that e-scooters are fun to ride and a convenient way to get around. But for now, they’re still in their trial period and we’ll only get to keep them if they’re used safely and legally. So here’s everything you need to know to scoot like a pro:


Remember your helmet!

We know, we know. It’s not always convenient to carry a helmet around with you. But it’s also pretty inconvenient to get sent to the hospital, wouldn’t you agree? And you might say, “I’m a good rider, I won’t fall!” Unfortunately, it’s not always up to you.

Just like you wear your seat belt in the car, you should always have a helmet on a scooter. Plus, it’s the law. You can rent or buy a helmet at a number of bike shops around town.


Don’t ride in parks

Wait, what? You heard me — motorized vehicles aren’t allowed in places like Waterfront Park, Springwater Corridor, and the Eastbank Esplanade. This year, companies have implemented geofencing software that won’t let you end your ride in these prohibited places.


Use bike lanes and proper parking spots

Portland roads can be confusing, especially if you’re not from around here. There’s a bike lane, and then there’s not. There’s a bunch of one-ways that seem determined to not let you turn where you want to. But please, stay off the sidewalks. It really is dangerous for pedestrians and folks using mobility devices, as well as the visually impaired. Finding bike lanes makes you and everyone around you safer, plus it’s more fun. Google maps has a bike option, or check out this map and pick your route ahead of time. 

Sidewalk riding was a big problem last year, so the city has implemented a new $50 fine.

Also, there’s a $15 fine for poor parking. To park like a pro, use bike racks or designated scooter parking spots. If you can’t find either, that’s okay — just remember that scooters should be parked on the sidewalk (not MAX platforms) as close to the curb as possible so they don’t block pedestrian walkways, driveways, crosswalks, building entrances, bus stops, or accessibility ramps. 



Don’t bring e-scooters on public transit

Scooters are a great way to connect to TriMet, but they’re really too big to take on board. Be sure to park them before hopping on buses, MAX, WES, and Portland Streetcar. However, you can bring non-electric, foldable scooters on board.


Yield to pedestrians

No matter where they are, pedestrians always have the right-of-way.


Don’t ride in wet conditions

Tiny scooter tires will slip more than car or bike tires. Best to avoid scooters on rainy days (we hope there won’t be many).


Look out for road hazards

Unlike bicycles, scooter wheels are small enough to get stuck in things like grates, potholes and MAX/Streetcar tracks. Last year, 83% of scooter-related emergency room visits didn’t involve a collision with anything, but rather someone simply falling off while riding. Our advice is to put your phone and earbuds away and keep your eyes on the road!


Don’t ride while intoxicated

They’re tricky enough to balance on as it is! If you’re caught, you could face serious DUI charges.


Follow the rules of the road

Stop signs, red lights, one way streets — those all apply to scooters too. And although in Portland you don’t need a license to operate one, you do need to be at least 16 years old. The scooter speed limit is 15 mph, but if the posted limit is below that, you’ve got to abide. If you’re steady enough, it’s helpful to use hand signals to indicate your turning direction.
Left turn: Left arm extended straight to the side
Right turn: Left arm bent like an “L”


Don’t ride with a buddy

One at a time on the scooters, please. They’re not designed for two people and you’ll both likely end up on the ground.


Have fun!

Misty Earisman

Misty Earisman

Marketing Communications Coordinator

Can usually be found riding her bicycle, practicing yoga or watching cooking videos. Also really loves goats. | All posts

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