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Brookline to Pilot Electric Scooter Program

Brookline to Pilot Electric Scooter Program

Brookline, MA– Starting April 1, free-standing electric scooters will be available for rent by the minute around the town of Brookline as part of a six-month pilot program approved by the town, Patch reports. The pay-per-minute program will offer 200 dockless scooters from two different companies: 100 from e-scooter company Bird, and 100 from e-scooter company Lime. Both companies are based in California.

To rent a scooter, you’ll first need to download the app onto your phone, which will allow you to locate and unlock a nearby scooter. The scooters can go as fast as 15 mph.

Both scooter companies and town officials say that this launch is an important step in increasing transportation options for residents of Brookline. Since the battery-powered scooters are dockless, the companies monitor battery life and will pay local gig workers to retrieve and recharge the scooters overnight.

Last summer, the electric scooter company Bird placed their scooters around the cities of Cambridge and Somerville without first seeking local approval. The towns ordered the scooters to be removed, as they considered them to be illegal under current state laws.

State legislation on the legal status of scooters is currently under consideration after Governor Charlie Baker filed a road safety bill in January 2019 that would treat electric scooters and electric bikes the same way as human-powered bicycles. As Boston.com reports, under current law, electric scooters and bikes are considered “motorized scooters,” which by law are required to have brake lights and turn signals. This law was originally intended for faster, seated scooters like Vespas.

Most standard electric scooters do not come with brake lights or turn signals, so if the new bill is passed, that would open the doors for electric scooter companies to operate in the state. The bill would also require riders under the age of 16 to wear a helmet.

While this pilot in Brookline will only include companies Lime and Bird, the ride-sharing company Lyft has also indicated that it is interested in bringing its own electric scooter operation to the Boston area. The city of Boston is also reported to be investigating the implementation of an electric scooter program sometime this spring.

Photo via Flickr by Sarah Petersen of the Portland Bureau of Transportation