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Brookline e-scooters a big test for Massachusetts as a whole

Lime and Bird rolling out pilot program for vehicles that are technically illegal under state law

Photo courtesy of Lime

Today’s the day for a groundbreaking test of electric battery-powered scooters in Massachusetts. California-based operators Lime and Bird will roll out 100 e-scooters each in Brookline as part of a test that will run until November 15.

It is the first such experiment in Massachusetts, and, if goes relatively smoothly, additional municipalities in the commonwealth could host the vehicles that are taking other parts of the U.S. by storm. That would change the commuting habits—and personal transportation budgets—of potentially thousands of Boston-area residents.

E-scooters are currently illegal under a state law that dates from the rise of the moped decades ago. Earlier 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 is movement to legalize them at the state level.

A lot, then, would appear to be riding on the Brookline pilot that starts April 1. Here are some key aspects for how it will work:

  • Lime and Bird will charge about $1 to unlock an e-scooter with an app, plus 15 cents per minute for the ride. These rates might change.
  • The e-scooters can go up to 15 miles per hour.
  • A rider must be at least 18 years old.
  • Riders are expected to operate them between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
  • And, to combat what is probably the biggest complaint about e-scooters (and app-unlocked bikes and e-bikes, for that matter), riders are asked to park them between sidewalks and street curbs to leave adequate space for pedestrians.
  • Also, should a rider sail right out of the Brookline town limits, the vehicle will not be able to be unlocked for use again until it’s back inside those limits.