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City of Bend’s e-scooter idea unplugged, for now


(Update: City staff will recommend not pursuing e-scooter pilot program this summer)

The idea of a summer pilot program for e-scooters in Bend appears to be over before it begins, at least for now.

Assistant City Manager Jon Skidmore said Thursday he will recommend to councilors at next Wednesday’s work session ” to not pursue it at this time — too many details to work out in a short timeframe. ”

The council could choose to move forward, Skidmore said, but he doesn’t know if there’s support for that — “we’ll find out Wednesday.”

City Manager Eric King had raised the possibility of requesting proposals from e-scooter companies at the end of their last meeting, to mixed reaction from councilors.

Earlier in the week, Skidmore said the first stakeholder meeting was held Friday. He said representatives from Bend Parks and Recreation, the Old Mill District, OSU-Cascades, the Downtown Bend Business Association and Cascade East Transit were among groups with representatives present.

The goal of the meeting was to gauge each entity’s initial interest in an e-scooter pilot program. Skidmore said most entities seemed supportive, but others had concerns.

For example, Old Mill representatives said, while they are highly supportive of alternative transportation, they would like to learn more about where E-scooters are parked and what they speed limits would be.

Skidmore said Old Mill representatives were also worried that most people would ride the devices to their mixed-use area — and leave them there. He said a flock of the scooters being pitched in one area is a concern about the program.

” If a large percentage of the available scooters have all been ditched at a certain activity center, how much utility are they actually providing to the rest of the traveling public? ” Skidmore said. ” And how do we work with scooter companies to make sure these things aren’t abandoned in areas that nobody else can use them? ”

Bend Parks and Rec might not allow e-scooters as well. As of now, the park rules state that motorized vehicles, like e-scooters, are not allowed in parks or on trails.

Skidmore said Cascades East Transit and OSU-Cascades both showed interest in the pilot program. OSU-Cascades representatives said campus goals center around sustainability and wellness. They said they would be excited to have another transportation option in Bend to make that happen.

City Manager Eric King recently floated the e-scooter idea at a city council meeting as Bend considered drafting a request for proposals from e-scooter companies.

If the pilot program came to Bend, Skidmore said it would likely begin in early-June and last four months.

Skidmore said the city of Bend wants to learn last year’s pilot program in Portland, which also lasted four months. Portland announced Monday a new year-long pilot program will begin in April.

Skidmore said one important question was still left unanswered: Will people use these devices year-round, especially during the winter?

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