Bird, the fastest company to ever reach a $1 billion valuation, set up shop on the steps of Portland City Hall today in a bid to get their product back out on the streets. Joining them were leaders from active transportation advocacy group The Street Trust and Forth Mobility, a nonprofit that promotes electric vehicles.
“Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”
— Jillian Detweiler, The Street Trust
Portland’s four-month pilot of shared electric scooters ended at the end of November and Bird was one of the companies that took part. “We’re here today to talk about bringing scooters back as soon as possible, and to expedite the process,” a Bird spokesperson shared with me before the event got underway.
Before speakers took to the mic, Bird staffers, scooter advocates and interested onlookers milled around a table and tent emblazoned with the Bird logo that had been set up in City Hall plaza. The company offered free helmets, pizza, coffee, and custom-made cookies.
The first person to speak was Joanie Deutsch, senior manager of government partnerships at Bird. She said Portland should restore access to this transportation option “as soon as possible.” “Portland riders made clear they enjoyed having access to e-scooters as an affordable transportation option,” Deutsch added.
The Street Trust Executive Director Jillian Detweiler also spoke at the event. She said her organization was, “Tremendously surprised and happy” about the scooter pilot program. “It was giving a broader population of people an alternative to driving,” she said. “And giving people a convenient — and even fun — way to get where they need to go.”
“We’re here today because the pilot was a success,” Detweiler continued. She then echoed Deutsch’s comments, saying she wants scooters back on the streets as soon as possible. Detweiler acknowledged the need to consider data and feedback from the pilot and said she’s aware some scooter users rubbed walkers and people with disabilities the wrong way. “But we’re confident those [issues] can be worked out,” she said. “Our streets are for people. Our streets should also be for e-scooters.”
Detweiler also said The Street Trust is focused on making sure PBOT moves forward with their analysis. She announced today that PBOT plans to make a final e-scooter report available in mid-January and open up the topic to public comment shortly thereafter.
I chatted with Bird spokesperson Mackenzie Long before the event. She said, in addition to rallying support for e-scooters, they held the event to urge Portland to step into the forefront of the micromobility revolution. “We’re here to remind Portland that you were a leader in sustainable transportation. So keep it going!”
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