Massachusetts Scooter Laws
E-scooters, or electric scooters, have become more popular since the advent of rentable dockless models. Thousands of Lime, Bird and Spin e-scooters landed in Boston, Massachusetts for rent starting at just $1 for riders. As people began to experiment with riding e-scooters, however, issues quickly arose.
From angry business owners to serious personal injuries, e-scooters are behind a few significant problems in Massachusetts. The state’s response has been to enforce its motorized scooter law for electric scooters.
Motorized Scooter Operational Regulations
Currently, Massachusetts does not have any statutes specifically in place for electric scooters. Instead, it has a motorized scooter law that also applies to e-scooters. Although electric scooters operate differently than motorized ones, the state uses its motorized scooter law for both. These laws restrict what an e-scooter rider may and may not do in Massachusetts.
- Motorized or electric scooter riders must have valid driver’s licenses or learner’s permits.
- No motorized scooter may travel faster than 20 miles per hour.
- Motorized scooter riders have a right to use all public roadways, other than express state highways.
- Scooter riders must obey all applicable traffic laws and regulations.
- Riders must keep to the right side of the road at all times, including while passing motor vehicles.
- Motorized scooters must have operational stop and turn signals.
- It is illegal to operate a motor scooter after sunset or before sunrise.
- All motorized scooter riders must wear helmets.
- No motorized or electric scooter rider may ride with a passenger.
Violating any of these motorized scooter laws could result in a fine of up to $25 for a first violation, $25 to $50 for a second violation, and $50 to $100 for a third or subsequent violation. Due to the requirement for stop and turn signals, the state of Massachusetts has banned most rentable e-scooter companies from operating within the state. A new proposed law by Gov. Charlie Baker, however, may change things in 2019.
Potential Changes to Massachusetts’ E-Scooter Laws
In January 2019, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed a bill that would treat e-scooters as human-powered bicycles rather than motorized scooters. Gov. Baker, along with Boston officials, is working to develop a program that would reintroduce dockless electric scooters to the state. The new law would replace the motorized scooter requirements with human-powered bicycle requirements for all e-scooter riders. The law would also require e-scooter users to wear helmets if under the age of 16, use an audible signal while passing and yield to pedestrians.
The new law would prohibit the parking of e-scooters in a way that blocks vehicular or pedestrian traffic. The parking of rentable dockless e-scooters has been an issue of immense concern to city officials and business owners. Improperly parked e-scooters could cause trip-and-fall injuries or block people from getting into local businesses. Finally, the bill would establish an advisory group under the Massachusetts Department of Transportation to continue to propose updates to e-scooter laws in the future.
The Dangers of E-Scooters
One of the driving forces behind new regulations for e-scooter users in Massachusetts is rider safety. State officials have expressed concern over the safety of electric scooters. Between September 2017 and September 2018, 249 patients went to emergency rooms throughout the U.S. for e-scooter injuries. The most common injuries were bone fractures, head injuries, contusions, sprains and lacerations.
If you use an electric scooter in Boston, do so safely and according to current laws. Wear a helmet that has a Department of Transportation sticker riding. Keep both hands on the handlebars. Stay alert to your surroundings and do not use headphones. Stay as far to the right-hand side of the road as possible, or ride in bicycle lanes. Stop at all stop signs and traffic lights, as you would in a traditional motor vehicle. Obey the state’s applicable laws and do not exceed 20 miles per hour. If you get into an e-scooter accident, talk to a personal injury attorney in Boston about your rights.