Electric scooters should not be allowed on ‘narrow’ North End streets, state rep. says

"I believe it is appropriate to protect one of Boston's most overcrowded and thickly settled neighborhoods from an uncoordinated and rushed rollout of these vehicles," state Rep. Aaron Michlewitz said.

Shared electric scooters are parked on a street in Santa Monica, California, on July 13, 2018.
–Robyn Beck / Getty Images, File

Electric scooters have yet to arrive in Boston, but a state lawmaker is urging city leaders to consider making one area off limits to the trendy vehicles: the North End’s inner streets.

State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, of the 3rd Suffolk District, says the city should place temporary restrictions on micro-mobility vehicles to keep them out of the neighborhood’s narrow streets, where they could pose a risk to public safety.

“As both the City and the State begin to formulate regulations on this emerging industry, I believe it is appropriate to protect one of Boston’s most overcrowded and thickly settled neighborhoods from an uncoordinated and rushed rollout of these vehicles,” the Democrat wrote in a letter Monday to Mayor Marty Walsh and Chris Osgood, the city’s Chief of Streets, Transportation, and Sanitation.

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Last month, the City Council approved an ordinance setting up regulations for electric scooter companies and similar businesses. The law, which sets standards for vehicle speeds, safety plans, and other factors, also gives the Transportation Department jurisdiction over where license holders can operate.

Michlewitz, who serves as chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, recommended that the city limit the vehicles to the North End’s “outer rim” or on Commercial, Causeway, North Washington, and Cross streets.

“Adding these vehicles to the narrow streets, which are already teeming with residents and tourists, could prove to be a public safety risk, especially to the neighborhood’s senior population,” he wrote in the letter.

Walsh’s office and the Transportation Department did not return requests for comment Thursday.

Update: “At this time, Boston has no plans to institute an e-scooter pilot in Boston. Ensuring safe roads for all in Boston is our first priority,” the Transportation Department said in a statement Thursday evening.

Even though electric scooters would be a new addition to Boston’s streets, the North End already has a contentious history with a different kind of micro-mobility vehicle: the Segway.

For years, residents and the city feuded with Boston by Segway over safety concerns and the company’s unpaid fines.

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Michlewitz, who wrote that the dilemma led to “countless headaches for the City and our residents,” said limiting where the new industries can operate could help prevent a similar situation.

“Moving forward, I am happy to be part of the conversation on helping to ensure that these vehicles are seamlessly integrated into our City’s oldest and most visited neighborhoods,” he wrote.

Although neighboring Brookline kicked off an electric scooter pilot program earlier this month, the vehicles still face a legal hurdle on Beacon Hill.

In Massachusetts, motorized scooters are required to have brake lights and turn signals — two features not often found on models used by rental-sharing companies.

Gov. Charlie Baker filed a bill in January to exempt the electric vehicles from current state law.