For years in Massachusetts, electric scooters, as a means of transportation (vs. recreation), were illegal in almost all cities and towns. In the past few months, however, the Boston City Council (not a body known for its intellectual acumen or common sense), voted to allow a pilot program that allows these “vehicles” into Boston. So has the town of Brookline, at least for this summer.
Under the program in Boston, officials there can issue ‘pilot licenses’, can supposedly limit the number of licenses granted each year, and can supposedly control how many vehicles can be utilized at a given time. So far, two scooter companies have injected themselves into the metropolitan Boston area: Bird and Lime. Other provisions supposedly require companies owning these vehicles to submit ‘safety plans’ (whatever they are), and supposedly detail how those scooter companies plan to communicate safety information to people riding these things. Did you notice how many times I wrote “supposedly”? That’s because the introduction of dangerous items like small, electric scooters, is an example of how some ideas, in a theoretical context, cannot be effectively managed in a practical context. Call it the “theory-practice” divide – and the idea of hundreds or even thousands of people all over the Greater Boston area whizzing around on these things – with no direction signals on them and no operator’s licenses being required to use them, is a disaster just waiting to happen.
Exhibit ‘A’: In the town of Brookline, where I grew up and was previously an elected Town Meeting Member, a scooter operator was injured on the first day of that town’s pilot program allowing the use of these death traps. Why do I call them “things” and “death traps”? Let me count the ways: