If you are confused about whether the Segway tour vehicles legally belong in the street or on the sidewalk, you are not alone. About a month ago, the Mayor signed off on new regulations unanimously passed by the City Council banning Segway tours from sidewalks and parks. The rules would relegate Segway tours to the streets, similar to bicycles. Routes would also have to be approved by Boston Transportation Department among other new requirements. (View the regulatory document.)
As any North End / Waterfront resident knows, Boston Gliders continues to operate Segway tours on the sidewalks and through the parks despite the new regulations. Now in the peak season, the tours run several times an hour along many streets in the neighborhood. With the move of its tour center to the corner of Hanover and Commercial Streets (the former gas station), a Segway tour leaves from Commercial Street every 15 minutes or so.
Boston Gliders, the Segway tour company, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on June 17, 2011. The court denied the company’s motion for a temporary restraining order against the new regulations.
In its complaint, Boston Gliders claims there has never been an accident on their tours. This statement is contrary to reports of such incidents, such as this accident in Christopher Columbus Park.
City Hall says the lawsuit will not delay implementation of the new regulations and considers the new rules to be fully in effect. At the July 11, 2011 meeting of the North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC), Stephen Passacantilli from Councilor LaMattina’s office confirmed this position.
At last week’s Public Safety meeting, BPD’s Captain O’Rourke said there is an “informal grace period” and this may be the reason why there has not been any change or enforcement. The grace period would theoretically allow the Transportation Department to meet with the tour companies and determine the details on how to enact the new regulations.