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Brookline e-scooter pilot proving very popular, Lime says

The micromobility firm is using the results of a recent survey to fuel its push for more electric battery-powered scooters in the Boston region

Two people riding e-escooters down a largely empty city street. Getty Images

Electric battery-powered scooters have replaced at least 50,000 automobile trips in Brookline since a pilot program started in that town in early April, according to a recent survey by the California-based micromobility company.

The survey, which drew 173 respondents, also found that 47.5 percent of Lime e-scooter riders used the vehicles to get to or from public transit within the previous month, and that just over 30 percent used an e-scooter rather than a private or hired car. Nearly all of the respondents want Brookline to make the e-scooter share permanent.

Lime is using the feedback to build its case for more e-scooters throughout the Boston region. The pilot program—which competitors Bird and Spin are also participating in—ends in mid-November. The 50,000 figure represents auto trips replaced by all three operators’ e-scooters.

”In the last six months, Lime’s e-scooter program proved to be extremely popular, especially among Brookline residents and commuters,” Scott Mullen, Lime’s director of Northeast expansion, said in an October 23 release about the survey. “Brookline kicked off this innovative pilot to provide affordable and reliable mobility options, and, along the way, the town began addressing the need for new transportation infrastructure like micromobility parking spots and bike lanes.

“As the pilot winds down for the winter,” Mullen added, “we look forward to exploring ways to improve transportation networks around Brookline and greater metro Boston.”

Right now, e-scooters are pretty scarce around the region and the state. There’s the Brookline pilot from Lime and Bird, another California-based firm. And Spin, a micromobility subsidiary of automobile giant Ford, operates around 250 e-scooters in Salem with Zagster, the company that also operates that city’s bike-share.

The scarcity is because e-scooters are illegal under a state law that dates from the rise of the moped decades ago. Attempts to introduce the vehicles in places such as Cambridge and Somerville failed. Since, though, these and other cities—most notably Boston—have taken baby steps toward approving regulations that would allow e-scooters, and there has been some movement to legalize them at the state level.

For right now, it’s largely a battle of perception, with operators wielding stats to sway public and official opinion. And it’s not just stats about usage. Lime and Bird both seized on a September report from mobility analytics firm INRIX that found that a lot of automobile trips in the Boston area are under 3 miles, if not under 1 mile.

The idea, from the micromobility operators’ perspective, is that e-scooters could substitute for some of these rides and thereby reduce the region’s notoriously bad traffic congestion. E-scooters in particular could be used for so-called last-mile trips between mass transit stops and destinations, and vice versa. Stay tuned.