New regulations adopted yesterday by the City Council ban Segway tours from sidewalks and parks. The new rules put the Segways on designated routes traveling in the street, including bike lanes.
In a matter sponsored by the North End / Waterfront’s City Councilor Sal LaMattina, the City Council voted unanimously to pass the first Segway regulations in the City of Boston. The new rules are largely applicable to Segway tour companies, such as Boston Gliders located on the corner of Hanover and Commercial Streets. However, personal Segway use is also restricted.
The City Council is responding to complaints from residents, including those in the North End / Waterfront, that many sidewalks are too narrow and congested to accommodate both pedestrians and Segway vehicles. In addition to sidewalks, parks and plazas are also Segway-free zones. Disabled people are exempt from the new regulations.
Councilor LaMattina’s office has distributed some talking points on the new Segway regulations:
– This legislation does not altogether ban Segways from the City of Boston. Instead, it provides a regulatory structure for their use. It allows Segway tours and allows the use of Segways for disability purposes.
– This legislation reduces public safety risks by ensuring the users are trained to ride Segways and only operate in designated areas of the City.
-It does not allow the use of Segways for personal, recreational use.
– The differences between the original draft and the new draft before the Council help to streamline the licensing process for Segway Tour companies. They must all be licensed through the Boston Police’s Hackney Division. Segway tours may only operate on routes approved by the Boston Transportation Department.
– The new draft grants the Boston Police Department authority to promulgate additional regulations for the operation of Segway tours, as well as set the appropriate fees.
– The new draft also incorporates some suggestions provided by industry, to allow them some flexibility in the operation of their tour groups. For example, they are required to wear reflective vests unless BPD approves of a company’s choice of uniform. Rearview mirrors are required on these vehicles, unless the industry proposes a viable alternative – perhaps helmet mirrors – so long as the BPD approves.
– Segway users must all be shown a safety video prior to their operation and sign a FAQ sheet that they understand the rules and regulations and the safety risks of driving one.
– This has been in process for more than over a year. The City Council held a hearing on the issue in March of 2010. This legislation was developed over the course of several months and was filed earlier this year. A hearing on this docket was held mid-May.
– Importantly, disabled individuals may continue to use Segways as a mode of transportation. However, in the interest of public safety the may not ride in groups larger than 2. This will ensure that large groups of Segways do not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.