City Council paves way for rental scooters in Boston

The Boston City Council today approved an ordinance proposed by Mayor Walsh that would allow rental scooters on local streets and sidewalks - under the oversight of the city transportation department, which would license operators and set requirements for such things as ensuring even the city's most far-flung neighborhoods get stocked with the two-wheelers.

The scooters, similar to the old Razor scooters, only powered by batteries that can boost them to 15 m.p.h., are typically owned by companies, that like Uber and Lyft, tried to just bust into local cities and towns without bothering to check with local officials, only with less success than the car-based services.

BTD now has to draw up formal regulations - which will bar users from blocking handicap-access ramps, hydrants and the like - and sign up companies willing to try pilot roll outs of the scooters.

City Councilor Matt O'Malley (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury), declared himself "really excited" at the prospect of tooling around on a scooter, which he said could help decrease the city's carbon footprint. "I can't wait to see all of us on scooters in the not too distant future," he said.

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ugh

like there aren’t already enough uninsured two wheel vehicles already illegally endangering Boston pedestrians on the sidewalk

where do they think people are going to ride these things?

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Voting closed 54

scooters

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i could have sworn they said a few wks ago that they would not be allowed on sidewalks. this city is getting worse and worse for pedestrians. but we don't count. Thank you City of Boston.

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Voting closed 28

Cars

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Cool, let's talk about cars endangering pedestrians next.

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Voting closed 16

Yeah, let's do that.

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You ever notice how often Boston pedestrians are in danger from cars when they cross against the lights, and in the middle of the block, and pop out suddenly from between parked cars, always while looking down at their phones?

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Voting closed 11

And also...

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...when they do none of those things, says the woman who was nearly hit by a car on the way to work today while in a crosswalk with a walk sign. Driver had a red light, too.

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Adam, when you mentioned

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Adam, when you mentioned sidewalks, did you mean that the regulations would allow these to be ridden on sidewalks? Or just parked there?

Bicycles can be parked on a sidewalk, but not ridden on one in a business district. That scheme works just fine.

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Good question

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The ordinance proposed by the mayor (which is what the council adopted with a few minor changes related to things such as who would serve on a scooter advisory board) doesn't say - it focuses more on regulating any companies that would rent the things.

Instead, it says the city transportation commissioner can develop regulations related to such things as "safety" and access to "the public way." If they're anything at all like the current Segway regulations, that would mean barring them from sidewalks and parks (like the Greenway), but given that there'll be way more scooters than Segways (that entire regulation was basically aimed at a single Segway tour operator), enforcement of a sidewalk ban would be interesting.

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might be how i get around

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look out for this fast yuppie (actually ill look out cuz i dont wanna get run over)

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Matt Omalley

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Cant wait to remind you how excited you are when this turns into a total mess.
not surprised he is all for this.
Hey Matt how is that Centre street safety plan coming along????

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Voting closed 31

And remember, budding MIT engineers...

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Each scooter has 30 18650 lithium battery cells inside worth about $150-300 retail and can be easily be used for all sorts of cool rechargeable engineering projects.

You just have to remove about a dozen screws and it's all yours!

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Voting closed 31

Benfits of these scooters are reminiscent of those for uber/lyft

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The benefits of these scooters sounds a lot like the promises politicians and silicon valley made about uber and lyft, which were supposed to make less people use cars and increase public transit. The same politicians are now blaming uber and lyft for all our transportation problems.

Will they be only allowed in the motor vehicle lane or bicycle lanes and sidewalks? Since the mayor and city councilors drive everywhere, I am betting sidewalks and bicycle lanes since that wont affect them. Now even more motorcycles and scooters will use bicycle lanes.

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Voting closed 17

I doubt this

Californian here (please hold your tomatoes) living in Boston. They have these in LA and San Diego and people really don't ride them in the bike lane or road. They almost exclusively ride them on the sidewalk (with exceptions of course).

They're a pretty fun way to get around a city once dominated by the automobile.

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Voting closed 5

scooter pick up

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so also in San Diego they are trying to rein in the scooters there are also start up businesses picking up the wayward ones abandoned on private property. not so much fun.
just remember how many abandoned lime bikes there were last summer.

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Voting closed 12

um duh

Have you noticed that the newer cities in the country have much wider sidewalks than those that are available to us in Boston?

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Voting closed 21

and in other cities

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they ride on both the sidewalk and the bike lanes.

neither solution is ideal, but they most definitely do not belong on sidewalks.

but of course the city loves that they exist since they will reduce pressure to actually improve the public transportation network.

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Voting closed 13

sidewalk rage

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Looks like my sidewalk rage will have a new target. Can't wait for some epic games of sidewalk chicken with these.

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Voting closed 16

My boots

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have toes of steel, and you have a much higher center of gravity than my lowly pedestrian self, o scooter-rider of the sidewalk. Let's see how this plays out.

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Voting closed 10

Ack

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The narrow brick sidewalks are challenging enough — I’m stuck in a wheelchair. Can’t wait for my first unwelcome game of chicken as a scooter comes barreling toward me. You know this will end badly. Boston is an old city with small streets and sidewalks.

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Voting closed 26

Nothing is sadder

Than some old fart with bizarre abstract notions of what constitutes adulthood.

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I'm sure the scooter firm has already been picked. Follow $$$.

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and sign up companies willing to try pilot roll outs of the scooters.

Willing? I doubt the council is going through this process without a connected vendor all ready to go. I thought that in 2011, the city severely restricted use of "electric personal assistive mobility devices" AKA Segway rental companies who probably hadn't ponied up the right cash. Don't forget Mayor Menino's "Operation Kickstand" crackdown on scooters and "motorized bicycles" around the same time.

BTW, the "dangerous" Segways top out at 12.5 mph so where are the safety concerns over the 15 mph scooters? Nothing to see here folks, just make checks Payable to the Committee to Elect....

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I'll have you know...

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That every city in California was already ****ed by putting avocados on everything, so the damage was done long before the scooters.

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Every time I visit a city

Every time I visit a city where these things are allowed, I'm glad that I live in one where they're not. I guess that is going out the window. Even on the wide sidewalks in places like Santa Monica, these things speed around and menace pedestrians. 15mph sounds slow, until somebody buzzes inches from your ear at 15mph. These things should have to play in traffic or go play in a different town.

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Voting closed 14

Electric Scooters

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Keep the scooters, get rid of the cars. More pedestrians are killed in Boston than drivers.

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Death traps

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These things are death traps. Sure, they might be fine along the boardwalk in Venice Beach and Santa Monica. But hit one of our potholes with a 6" wheel and bang you're going straight in to the ground. Also they are a good way for VCs to light money on fire, if they don't have enough ways already.

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vcs?

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what are vcs?

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Venture capitalists

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Or, if you're feeling less charitable, vulture capitalists.

They like to finance start-ups to find the Next Big Thing.

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Confusing terms

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Venture capitalists put capital (money) behind new ideas hoping that the idea takes off so they can get a return on their investment. They're not usually a problem because they're often very picky about what they're willing to risk their money on. The things they invest in are often good/useful/profitable ideas that just need catalyst money to get turned into products.

Vulture capitalists are seedy dickheads who find companies in trouble and do everything possible to stress them even further so that they can buy them just before or right at bankruptcy (even if the company was actually savable), then liquidate everything they can and whatever husk is still remaining is propped up to appear like a phoenix rising from the ashes, but it's really just a pile of shit with a bow on it hoping that someone will take it off their hands at a profit above what they bought it at. Bain Capital is a vulture capital company.

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Voting closed 5

These things are great

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I first encountered them last fall, when I accompanied two teenagers to Paris for a week or so. They loved the city, but what they loved most are the scooters. Within an hour of discovering them, the fourteen-year-old had downloaded the app of each company (in Paris there are four or five) onto her phone, and linked them to her mother's credit card number, which her mother (presumably in a fit of insanity) had given her. Thereafter they both sought them everywhere, and had to be persuaded to use any other means of transportation.

I wasn't too pleased with the leave-it-anywhere philosophy, but it's a busy, crowded city, and the scooters didn't obstruct sidewalks to anywhere near the degree that motorcycles (which are everywhere in Paris, like in most European cities), news kiosks, and noisy people in yellow jackets do.

Whether they are a practical means of everyday transportation I can't say, but they sure are fun. I will always remember circling the Place des Vosges, at 9 o'clock in the evening, in a light rain, or my brother Beau zipping along streets on the Ile de la Cité looking magisterial, or the fourteen-year-old and her sixteen-year-old brother racing madly around traffic islands on the Rue Saint-Antoine. Nobody took any notice of us. It's just one more component of the overall busyness.

We rode in the street, which is general practice. I was never inconvenienced by anyone riding a scooter on the sidewalk, though I can't say it never happens. I think if I had been there longer I would have found them enormously useful. They're probably safer than a bike on city streets, and certainly take up less room, especially since you don't need to find a place for it in your tiny apartment. Paris is, like Boston but much more so, a city where it's easy to walk, but much too big to walk everywhere, and these provide an easy transition from walking in one neighborhood to walking in another.

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Voting closed 10

They are not safer than bikes on the street.

They are basically a skateboard with a grab bar. They are silent and When they weave between cars they are difficult to see. They don't wear helmets. They lift a person about 4 inches off the ground, so depending on their height they might be invisible between cars.

Skateboards and motorized scooters in bike lanes are already a problem. Although they don't seem to be run over by cars at the same rate as pedestrians and cyclists.

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Stroller Brigade

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Stroller brigade will have some competition on Centre St in JP. Now they mostly refuse to move to the right for pedestrians, totally oblivious to other people walking.

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Scooters belong in the bike

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Scooters belong in the bike lane and not on the sidewalk. Most likely it will be cyclists who will rent these scooters so that they can go faster getting from point A to point B than on their bikes.

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Not fast

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They are not faster than bikes; they max out at about 15 mph. I agree that they belong in the bike lane.

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Voting closed 6

A Curmudgeon's View: Another Dumb Idea by Walsh & Co.

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As a lifelong frequent visitor to Boston (from the North Shore) I find myself feeling more and more frustrated with the way the city government is positioning itself on transportation issues. Now they want to allow electric scooters on the narrow, pedestrian dense streets of the city ?

Sheer stupidity. Shouldn't they at least wait until the bicycle related issues are better resolved before putting more people at risk for serious injury or worse ?

Mayor Walsh has presided over an ever diminishing number of parking spaces both on the streets and in the parking garages. His answer: use public transportation. That would be great except that public transportation sucks ! Why ? There is limited parking at local train stations and few trains after 9pm. You can count on adding a minimum of two hours to your travel time in and out of the city vs just driving in and parking. The subway system has never been so unreliable. And why are the concrete and tile floors of the fairly new Government Center stop already crumbling ?

There seems to be no limits to the amount of real estate space available to build new residential buildings but none to address the parking issues. City leaders have pointed to the increasing number of ride sharing cars clogging the city streets and now they're going to 'manage them' by reserving many of the few remaining parking spaces for them. That's not managing. That's encouraging. The Walsh administration 'solved' the problem of downtown parking by inflating parking meter prices to a point where it is now fair to say that these spaces are reserved exclusively for the well-to-do.

I am one of the many residents in the metropolitan area who comes to Boston frequently for theater, sports events, concerts and the like. We patronize local restaurants, shops, arenas etc.. Mayor Walsh should be working to make our visits to the city easier and not harder.

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I agree

We need to massively improve public transportation hand in hand with introducing congestion pricing and boosting parking in the city.

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Congestion pricing.

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Congestion pricing can only work fairly if there is a competent, reliable public transit system alternative to driving. Lacking that, people will still drive. We don't have that in Boston and we have even less of that in the suburbs. City leaders like the concept because it's a convenient way to justify grabbing higher revenues while pretending to solve the problem. Obviously Mayor Walsh could care less that he's disenfranchising folks at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

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i emailed councillor O'malley my concerns

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The city has a major problem right now with traffic congestion. With unregulated Uber and Lyft drivers ignoring no stopping and no parking signs, bicyclist being struck on a regular basis and a tragic pedestrian death in W. Roxbury. You whole heartily it seems now endorse dropping scooters into the mix? Saying that they are a green alternative? Can we address the traffic, bike, and pedestrian concerns before allowing scooters to overrun the city and our sidewalks?
I struggle to see the benefit of scooters to the majority of citizens and I am troubled by your support for them.

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Voting closed 10

Data shows otherwise

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The more non-cars there are in the street, the safer it is for everyone. When cars are forced to acknowledge that they're sharing the road with everyone, then they are forced to drive more cautiously.

It's when only 1-2% of the vehicles are not cars that cars feel entitled to only concern themselves with other cars.

Fun aside: this morning on Comm Ave where the bike lane is still a Mad Max landscape and the sign says "bikes use full lane", I had a car driver behind me at a light yell out his window that I should move over to the "bike lane". When the light changed, he honked as I pulled away. Not only was the next block backed up due to cars and construction, but I accelerated to 25 mph on my e-bike so I was no different than any car that might be in front of him. When we caught up to the traffic, I passed them on the right and kept going.

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Voting closed 8

Comm Ave

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Funny i drove to work today and saw a bike rider ignore a stop sign and a red light and weave through traffic to make left hand turn the wrong way up Tremont street so yes there are jerks on all forms of transport. I also saw at least 8 double parked cars on Comm ave blocking traffic this morning. Did you dodge them as well. Why add scooters to this mix?

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Voting closed 4

I was downtown today

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I saw FIVE CARS run a red light and then sit there and honk and force their way through a walk signal.

This happens every light cycle, every morning.

I don't want to hear about a "bike ran a red light" when that doesn't KILL PEOPLE.

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Voting closed 6

You're right

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Everyone should be in a car. At all times. Lets just all live our sad fucking lives in metal boxes and not go anywhere.

That is the world you're asking for when you email your councilor, who I'm sure is super concerned, that you don't want people going faster than you when you're in your metal death box stuck in traffic.

/drove to work today
//biking tomorrow

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The arguments against...

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...seem to be mostly based on "oh god, it's bad enough, do we need to add one more thing to the mix?" I get that. The thing is, our public ways are mostly not restricted to specific types of vehicles/traffic, and they don't operate by default on the basis of "if it's not explicitly included, then it's excluded". I'm not sure that's a bad thing, but it might be possible to make some general regulations that work well, like: if it's going at more than walking speed, it doesn't go on sidewalks; it can't impede access of other users; if it's going BELOW y speed, it can't be on these roads.

I think the argument that scooters will reduce congestion is pretty shaky.

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Scooters eat Uber and Lyft

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Scooters eat Uber and Lyft rides. Those rides are serviced by drivers who are in traffic for 2.5 miles per passenger mile, on average. Market forces will mean that as scooter rides go up, rideshare rides will go down. There is a basically flat number of trips that happen in a city for a given timeframe. If scooter trips go up, then something else is going to be reduced. Other cities' data shows that is primarily from pedestrian traffic and rideshare rides.

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Voting closed 2