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City Council approves regulations for shared mobility


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City Council

This week, the Council voted to pass an ordinance to establish licensing and regulations for shared mobility businesses, such as electric scooters.

The ordinance will allow the City of Boston to regulate businesses that offer small vehicles for rent on City streets and sidewalks through the creation of a flexible license structure from the Boston Transportation Department (BTD). The ordinance was sponsored by Mayor Martin J. Walsh and was referred to the Committee on Government Operations on January 30, 2019. The Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Councilor Flaherty, held a hearing and a working session on the matter before recommending passage in an amended draft.

Councilor O’Malley, who has been vocal about micro-mobility in Boston said, “We’ve seen other cities have tremendously successful rollouts of micro-mobility, particularly electric scooters. We’ve seen others that had some fits and starts from the beginning, so we’re going to do it right. We’re going to do it the Boston way.” He also stated that he is a big supporter of micro-mobility for three key reasons. “They help move people around and remove cars from the road, they help us lower our greenhouse gas emissions, and if done right … it can actually generate revenue for the City.”

The ordinance establishes a Small Vehicle Sharing Business Advisory Committee to advise the Commissioner of BTD on regulatory authorities of the small vehicle sharing businesses. The Committee will be comprised of representatives from the Office of New Urban Mechanics, the Disability Commission, the City Council President, or such other Councilor designated from time to time by the Council President, and the Environment Department. The Committee will advise the Commissioner on issues related to the regulatory authority, such as issues of safety, licensing as well as a variety of other related issues, such as equity and sustainability. The ordinance takes into account the constantly evolving nature of the industry and allows the BTD to have the ability to create a flexible framework that ensures the safe operation of the small vehicle sharing businesses in the City.