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Starts & Stops

Electric scooters will come to Brookline this spring

A man rode a Bird Scooter on Pearl Street in Somerville last year. Jim Davis/Globe Staff/File/Globe Staff

It will be the summer of scooters in Brookline.

Town officials on Tuesday gave final approval to a pilot program that will begin as soon as April 1, allowing the California-based companies Bird and Lime to rent 200 electric scooters.

The program, which will last until at least the fall, marks the first municipal approval in Massachusetts for an emerging mode of transportation that is already popular in cities such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Riders use their phones to find and rent a scooter along a local sidewalk, starting at $1 a ride. The electric scooters, which resemble children’s push scooters, travel about 15 miles per hour and are meant to be ridden on the street.


Bird’s scooters surfaced briefly in 2018 in Cambridge and Somerville, before the cities ordered them out. Officials cited an ambiguous state law, originally written for mopeds, that says scooters must have turn signals, which these models do not. Boston officials have also said they’d like to test scooters but are first waiting on the state law to change.

Lawmakers have indicated they want to clarify that law to allow the scooters. In the meantime, state officials have said it’s up to cities and towns to decide how to enforce the law. Brookline ultimately decided it won’t, and will allow the companies to launch soon.

Doing so will allow the town to learn how the scooters are being used and craft better rules if and when state law allows the companies to operate more freely, said Heather Hamilton, a member of the town’s select board.

“We want to start collecting some information so we can fine-tune how we want to regulate these scooters,” she said. “We’ll have enough data to craft good policy.”

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