For the first time in Massachusetts, electric scooters will be allowed on the streets, providing an emission-free way of getting around. The Boston City Council passed an ordinance creating licenses and regulations for scooter businesses to operate. The ordinance was sponsored by Mayor Martin J. Walsh, BC ’09.
“We’ve seen other cities have tremendously successful rollouts of micro-mobility, particularly electric scooters,” said Matt O’Malley, the councillor for District 6. “We’ve seen others that had some fits and starts from the beginning, so we’re going to do it right. We’re going to do it the Boston way.”
Boston’s transportation system is relatively far reaching, but the scooters could really solve the “last mile problem” said Ben Li, CSOM ’19. For people who live near downtown Boston and only need to go a few miles, or need to travel to get to a T stop, scooters could be a clean and helpful alternative to driving. Li has been waiting for the scooters to reach Boston since he saw them on the West Coast a few years ago.
“I was very into this idea of bike shares, scooters, you know, all of those micro-mobility transportation vehicles,” he said.
On Monday, Brookline will launch its scooter program alongside Bird and Lime, electric scooter services. Both companies advertise their scooters as an option for short-distance travel to reduce the number of cars driving on the city streets, serving as an environmentally conscious option for transportation. Lime currently has U.S. locations in 27 states and 20 other countries. Bird has locations in more than 100 U.S. cities and nine other countries.
Due to the Boston weather, scooters could be dangerous because of potholes and the scooters’ lack of suspension, Li said, and cars in the city won’t be used to sharing the road with scooters as well. Still, he said that he plans to use the scooters as soon as they come available and thinks they will be helpful for college students—people traveling from Newton Campus to Main Campus could use the scooters, Li said.
The ordinance for micro-mobility vehicles was presented by Michael Flaherty, an at-large member for the City Council, who noted the amendments that have been made after review of community input at meetings on Feb. 26 and March 15. A Small Vehicle Sharing Business Advisory Committee will advise the Commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department on regulations for the scooter businesses. They will address issues of safety, licensing, equity, and sustainability.
Someone from the City Council will serve on the advisory board for the program, as will a representative from the disabilities commission. The scope of the ordinance he presented is broad because of the ever changing nature of the industry.
O’Malley gave his endorsement of the initiative, citing the three reasons he supports scooter-share programs: They help people move around without using cars, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and they could produce revenue for the City of Boston.
“I can’t wait to see all of us on scooters in the not too distant future,” he said.
Featured Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons