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Boston City Council Works on Scooter Ordinance

The Boston City Council is currently working on a new ordinance regarding licensing and regulating of shared mobility businesses. This would create a licensing structure to regular businesses offering small vehicles for rent on City streets and sidewalks, such as scooters.

Councilor Matt O’Malley said they have seen cities and town create similar ordinances and Boston needs to put something in place to protect residents.

Chief of Streets Chris Osgood said the new ordinance would not be a pilot program for a scooter program or other new technology. However, it would allow the city to set guidelines, such as a speed limit of 15 MPH, and allow for the city to impound vehicles if needed. 

“This would let us set common sense guidelines,” said Osgood. 

The ordinance would also create a small vehicle shared vision advisory committee, who would discuss concerns happening in the community around such transportation.

Councilor Michael Flaherty wanted to make sure there was language in the new ordinance that scooter companies would be responsible to pick up the scooters across the city. 

“There needs to be accountability from these companies,” he said. “We can’t have them abandoned all over the place.”

He said the council should mirror language from the shopping cart ordinance.  

Osgood said the ordinance would allow the city to fine companies that don’t pick up their scooters in a set timeframe.

Some councilors wondered if there should be designated areas where scooters are dropped off.

“We need a real system in place,” said Councilor Josh Zakim. “We can’t just say you can’t leave them on the sidewalk.” 

Zakim worried about abandoned scooters limiting access to people with different disabilities, creating a situation where it would be hard to travel on city streets and sidewalks. 

Resident Eliot Laffer also wanted to make sure people cannot ride scooters on the sidewalk. He feared it would cause accidents with people who may be blind or deaf and can’t hear or see people coming down the street.

Olivia Richard of the Boston Disability Advisory Board fears head injuries, saying many people do not wear helmets on scooters or bikes. “A lot of these rides are spur of the moment,” she said. “They might not have the helmet on them.”