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Brookline launches electric scooter pilot program







BROOKLINE – Scooters run free in Brookline. But where to go?

The city made Massachusetts history Monday as the first municipality to sanction an electric motor vehicle rental program on its streets.

About 200 cars from California-based companies Lime and Bird have been deployed on sidewalks and other public spaces throughout the city, where riders can use smartphone apps to start riding a scooter for $ 1

, with additional fees based on the length of the trip.

The start of Brookline's pilot program, which runs into the fall, was not entirely promising; At a launch event, a woman who tested the scooter fell into the parking lot of the town hall square and was injured. She was taken away in an ambulance based on a press conference that marked the occasion.

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Nevertheless, officials celebrated scooters as an important moment for regional transport.

"If we are to make a bulb in reducing CO2 emissions, we need to change transport behavior away from single-occupancy vehicles," said Heather Hamilton, a member of the city's select board, which led the scooter test.

But in a city that directly neighbors Boston, in some areas that almost bleed into it, riders should not cross the border.

Boston, like most cities and towns in Massachusetts, waits until the state removes some confusion in state law that can make vehicles illegal. Brookline essentially shot these concerns as it launched its pilot program.

So what happens if a rider crosses into the forbidden land?

Bird and lime officers on hand at Monday's event indicated that there would be some immediate consequence: riders can finish their trip to Boston, but riders will not be able to unlock and start a new one from the city. The companies' crews will monitor the location of the scooters using a GPS system and pick up any vehicles crossing the border within two hours.

But that did not seem to be the case on Monday morning, at least in the bird model.

A Globe reporter rode a scooter through Brookline towards Boston. Shortly after the crossing the border near the Longwood Medical Area, the scooter beckoned and stopped accelerating. App & # 39; said the reporter was slow because he had entered a restricted area and he couldn't park there either. He pledged the scooter back across the border to park it.

It might just have been a "glitch," said Hannah Smith, a government office with Bird. She said the company intends to go on to Boston because it would be safer not to lower riders in the middle of a trip just because they cross the border.

"It's a bad transport policy to get scooters to screate into a stop when crossing a physical barrier," she said.

Scott Mullen, Lime & # 39; s Northeast Expansion Director, said his company has a similar view, although added riders may be suspended if they usually cross into Boston.

It is unclear how Boston will respond to scooters above its limit. The city's transport department did not respond promptly to a request for comment.

Hamilton, the Brookline official, said the city had been in contact with Boston before launch.

Smith and Mullen did not seem optimistic that this could soon be a problem if scooters soon make their debut in Boston. While the city is awaiting state progress before a rental program is allowed, the city council recently approved the rules for the business when that date comes.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro .


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