Data from Portland's four-month scooter program, which has limited the number of scooters to around 2,000 and recorded more than 700,000 rides, shows that scooters often replace short trips by car.

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"Many of these companies are going to the cities, flouting local regulations, seeing what they can do and how far they can push cities to welcome them," said Chloé Eudaly, city commissioner for the city. Portland. "I feel that this trend is reversing somewhat for these companies, who are discovering that this is not necessarily the best way to do business."

Other cities are setting up permit programs to limit the impact of unplanned scooter invasions. Washington, for example, said in November that companies could not deploy more than 600 scooters each, which, according to Bird, would make "impossible" the provision of a full service.

Bird, Lime and Skip have obtained licenses to operate in Portland. They transmitted a wealth of data on scooter trips, giving the city's control authorities access to information on the starting point, the route taken, the end and the time of the day. Personal information about runners, such as payment data, has not been shared.

Portland has limited the number of scooters to around 2,000, split roughly between the three companies. Mr. Scheer of Lime said the hood system made it difficult to determine how many scooters a city really needed.

But he added that the limits imposed on scooter companies to refine their operations, to offer scooters a smoother driving and to ensure their deployment in neighborhoods where they could attract the greatest number of riders. And the traffic jams have forced new businesses to argue over how they could comply with city mandates rather than playing on numbers.

"We do not think it's a land-grabbing business. That's where you have to solve problems in a sustainable way, "said Sanjay Dastoor, Skip's general manager. "Having more vehicles on the road will not help if there are no places where people can drive them and feel safe."

The data collected by Portland has allowed the city to determine whether e-scooters are delivering on their promises to reduce pollution and congestion. According to a survey conducted throughout the city, 34% of residents who used scooters and who responded to a survey said they used electronic scooters to replace the driving of their own car or that of an Uber.