In an effort to improve and expand upon transportation options, the state of Massachusetts is taking a closer look at bike safety and connectivity while also considering e-scooters. While much is still in the air, some changes are certain to happen in the near future.
Increasing Bike Connectivity
After releasing a plan in late December, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation sought feedback from the public throughout the month of January to better connect bike routes while also improving safety along new and existing bike paths. As part of the plan, MassDOT has emphasized that bikes will be treated the same as other modes of transportation, rather than simply being accommodated, and that better bike paths need to be created and connected throughout the state. The state is paying particularly close attention to how it can improve the bikability of Boston.
To achieve its overall goal of improving biking throughout the state, MassDOT is calling for the cooperation of all 351 of its cities and towns. In addition to making biking safer and more convenient for cyclists, MassDOT hopes the initiative will help to increase the number of citizens who choose to use public transportation. Whereas stations may be too far away for residents to walk to, they may be willing to bike those extra miles in order to take advantage of public transportation options. In term, this could help to decrease traffic congestion while also reducing the demand for additional parking.
E-Scooters Offer Additional Transportation Options
Following a brief appearance of e-scooters in the Boston area in 2018, little talk has taken place regarding keeping them in the city. This was partially due to the fact that the proper laws were not put into place for e-scooters. As such, as dockless bikes started to become an option, e-scooters began to fade away. For those who love the idea of using e-scooters, however, you will be happy to know that they are now getting some additional backing that is likely to bring them back to Boston and its area cities and towns.
Thanks to legislation introduced by a state lawmaker representing parts of Brookline and Boston, the proper path may be cleared for electric battery-powered scooters to come to the Boston area. According to the current law, e-scooters fall under the same regulations as mopeds. As such, they must have brake lights and turn signals. While some do have brake lights, or at least the ability to have brake lights, turn signals are a much bigger problem. With the new legislation that was proposed in January, e-scooters would be exempt from these requirements. The e-scooters would, however, still have to carry insurance and would be required to pay 20 cents in taxes per ride.
While it is still unclear whether or not the proposal will get the backing it needs for approval, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council has been meeting regularly in Boston, Brookline, Somerville and Cambridge to discuss the possibility of an e-scooter share. In addition, companies such as Lyft, Bird, Uber, Razor and Lime have made it clear that they are ready to launch their fleets as soon as they gain the necessary approval.