A Superior Court judge denied a preliminary injunction requested by Boston by Segway (BBS) against a 2011 City of Boston ordinance that regulates Segway tours in the city. The ordinance was championed by District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina (North End, Charlestown, East Boston) in response to complaints about the safety issues related to Segways tours on sidewalks and some crowded or narrow streets. Boston by Segway is located at 420 Commercial Street in Boston’s North End and is the only company that offers Segway tours in Boston.
LaMattina’s Segway tour ordinance, passed by the Boston City Council and signed by Mayor Menino in June 2011, required Segway tours to be licensed by Boston Police (BPD) Hackney Division. It also prohibited tours on sidewalks, instead allowing them on streets (including bike lanes) using routes approved by the Boston Department of Transportation.
According to the court order, Boston by Segway submitted routes and applied for a license, but was never granted permission to operate in Boston. The tour company continued to operate without any licenses or approved routes until April 10, 2013 when Boston Police forcibly shut down the business.
BBS filed this lawsuit on May 7, 2013 arguing that the City of Boston “exceeded its authority under the Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution in vesting the BPD Hackney Division with the authority to license and regulate companies providing Segway tours.”
After the May 2013 legal filing, BBS was granted 53 licenses to operate and a “one-hour” route was approved. The City and BBS were never able to agree on a “two-hour” tour route.
In the court document, “Segway maintains that absent an injunction, it will be forced to file for bankruptcy and close its business down.”
Superior Court Judge Troy issued a 9-page ruling denying the injunction, concluding:
The court is mindful of the frustration BBS has experienced in its attempts to operate within the Ordinance’s restrictions as well as the financial toll that the City’s licensing and route approval process has taken on the company’s business. Indeed, the court believes that Segway tours likely provide a great benefit to Boston and encourages the City to work in good faith to quickly approve more routes for BBS. Nevertheless, … BBS has failed to show that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its complaint as it appears that the City was free to grant licensing authority for Segways to the Police Commissioner.