Officials with Disability Rights Oregon say Portland is not ADA compliant, and that when e-scooter riders finish their trips, discarded scooters often block sidewalks and other public rights of way.
Emily Cooper, legal director for Disability Rights Oregon, wrote that the city had fallen short in adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act, which calls for equal access to public space. During the city’s pilot program last summer, Portlanders rode more than 800,000 miles on the roughly 2,000 e-scooters dispersed across the city.
But the devices, which users are free to leave wherever they finish their trip, often end up blocking sidewalks and other public rights of way, Cooper wrote, creating dangerous conditions for those with disabilities. The city’s own report on the pilot noted that “improperly parked scooters negatively impacted accessibility and created a hazard for people with visual impairments.”
“During this 2018 pilot, [Disability Rights Oregon] received several concerning calls and complaints regarding the lack of sidewalk accessibility and safety from both our staff and clients with mobility disabilities and vision impairments,” Cooper wrote.
Her concerns were first reported by the Portland Tribune.
“It was unclear what additional steps the city would take to address the critical concerns with sidewalk accessibility and improve e-scooter safety,” before the scooters return to Portland streets this spring, Cooper added.
E-scooters will return to Portland this spring, transportation officials say.
Portland transportation officials set the framework for bringing electric scooters back to city streets in 2019.
Cooper requested that the city require data from the scooter companies on the number of times the devices were left blocking a public right of way, and for the city to enforce state and federal law with regards to parking and riding violations. She also encouraged the city to give priority to companies that employ “geofencing,” technology that would require parking the scooters in specific areas, and to create a public forum where members of the community can address concerns about the devices.
That last request was of particular importance, Cooper wrote, because “renewal of the e-scooter program for a full year was decided without any public meetings or open discussion, especially with the disability community.”
“It is unclear what efforts the city took to invite the public to comment on the possibility of any future or long-term renewal of the program or offered citizens a chance to say what might be changed in a future initiative,” she wrote. “The processes of government and the votes of administrative bodies should be open to the public.”
Cooper met with city attorney Ken McGair on Tuesday, and the city is considering ways to address compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But, as Cooper wrote, “the City is hesitant to implement too many regulations as it may dissuade smaller, more diverse e-scooter businesses from entering the marketplace.”
No date has been set for exactly when the scooters will return.
©2019 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.