The Brookline Town Hall was the backdrop this morning for the legalization of electric scooters, however the sunny morning hit a bump after a rider seriously injured herself, following a fall from a slippery scooter. The rider fell from her scooter and appeared to sustain an injury to her head and neck area. Paramedics and firefighters arrived on the scene to treat the injured rider, who was eventually moved to a gurney and taken away in an ambulance.
Government officials, Lime and Bird employees, and scooter fanatics had congregated outside of the town hall to kick off a new pilot program that is bringing 200 shared electric scooters to the streets of Brookline. The program is the first of its kind in Massachusetts.
Bird and Lime are shared electric scooter companies that operate dockless scooters all over the world. Through the use of a smartphone application, users can unlock scooters for a fee and ride them up to 30 miles, and then leave them wherever they want. The companies have seen success in cities, such as Los Angeles and Portland, Ore., but have also been banned in municipalities like San Francisco.
The event commenced at 9:30 a.m., with an inaugural ride around the block led by Heather Hamilton, a select board member from the Town of Brookline. Hamilton was joined by representatives from Bird and Lime amid her three-minute ride.
Along with the inaugural ride, members of the public were offered the opportunity to try out the scooters and receive a tutorial if needed. Both Bird and Lime had brought a small fleet of their electric scooters for test drives.
To open her speech, Hamilton shared an anecdote that she said motivated her to find transportation alternatives for the residents of Brookline.
“This issue touched me both personally and professionally,” Hamilton said. “My roommate was walking back from Children’s Hospital … where she was mugged outside our apartment. Shortly after that experience she bought a Razor scooter, because she no longer felt safe walking alone.”
Bird has been working with the Town of Brookline for the last eight months to bring residents the option to trade car rides in for scooters, according to Hannah Smith, a government relations manager for Bird in the Northeast.
“I have been working with the Town of Brookline for the last eight months,” Smith said. “We believe that this will be incredibly successful in helping Brookline residents trade shorter car trips for our emissions-free option.”
Scott Mullen, the director of expansion for Lime, took the stand and lauded Brookline for its willingness to try something innovative.
“[Brookline has] a willingness to take chances, which is really what this is all about,” he said. “Brookline getting out ahead of this because it is important from a traffic standpoint, congestion mitigation, public health, and it really is a climate issue as well.”
Finally, Neil Wishinsky, director of the Select Board of Brookline, issued a plea to the residents of Brookline to respect the shared scooters and to help the program be a success.
“Folks who use the scooters are going to have to abide by the rules of the road … and be very careful of where you park the scooters,” Wishinsky said. “I hope this will be a success, and we need everyone’s cooperation.”
Riders in Brookline are permitted to ride scooters from Brookline into other jurisdictions and they can leave the scooters outside of Brookline, but trips cannot originate outside of Brookline, and Bird and Lime have committed to removing the scooters within two hours of a trip’s conclusion.
Per terms of the pilot program, Bird and Lime each have been permitted to operate 100 scooters in Brookline.
Featured Image by Owen Fahy / Heights Editor