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Mayor declares all out war on scooters, ATVs; proposes law to ban stunt driving on Boston streets

BOSTON BIKE LIFE ON THR33ZTV i9THR33Z promo video

Mayor Walsh wants to crack down on misbehaving scooter and ATV drivers, who he says have created "a notorious atmosphere of criminal and other disturbing activity so elevated as to endanger the common good and general welfare of the city."

His solution: An ordinance that would not only prohibit scooter and ATV drivers from doing the sort of stuff they like to do but would prohibit people from storing more than one unlicensed motorbike or ATV unless they have a particular garage license. Plus, all motorbikes, scooters and ATVs would have to be registered with the RMV.

On Wednesday, the City Council will consider the mayor's proposed ban on "trick or stunt riding" on city streets - and on land, such as fields at Franklin Park, whose owners have not given permission for the activity.

In recent months, police have seized a number of scooters and ATVs. Police, however, have tended to leave stunting riders actually zooming around local streets alone.

Walsh's proposed ordinance would give police the power to go after these rascals, with fines of up to $300 per incident:

An operator of any motorized conveyance, including a recreational vehicle, shall not cause such vehicle to ride with its front wheel or wheels raise [sic] from the surface of the road or ground while operated in any public space.

The proposed ordinance would also ban similar behavior involving rear wheels or, in the case of ATVs, side wheels.

Also banned: "Feet or knees planted on the seat while operating in any public space," giving rides to people on single-person bikes and passengers sitting or riding on the handle bars.

The ordinance gives police permission to go on private property to seize bikes or otherwise enforce the law.

The City Council's regularly scheduled meeting begins at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall. The council typically sends proposed ordinances to a committee for study before voting on them.

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Comments

And also sounds like it's well constructed as to not harass the law-abiding motorcycling/scooting community, as well.

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While he's at it, the Mayor should get the Boston Police Department to enforce the ban against modified mufflers on motorcycles. The noise pollution from modified mufflers is one of the worst aspects of summer in the city. BPD knows who has them but fails to enforce the law.

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Loud pipes saves lives. No bike motorcycle/scooter could match a two ton + vehicle.

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Loud pipes are solely for the pleasure of letting everyone else know the biker is is riding through. If loud pipes were intrinsic to the safety of motorcyclists then they should push for requiring loud pipes as a safety feature. The same would apply to bicycles as well.

Or just don't ride a motorcycle where it is dangerous to ride the motorcycle.

But don't think that folks are naive enough to believe the BS that justifies terrorizing neighborhoods with horrible noise.

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but not always, if a system is not designed well.

With a 50cc weed whacker class engine, every little bit can help. On liter class bikes with much horsepower, the need doesn't exist.

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If you don't feel you can ride safely without "loud pipes", you shouldn't be riding. Remember that your "loud pipes" do more than simply alert other road users of your presence; they also create a noisy nuisance for non-road users who happen to be nearby. My town gets way too many of them in the summer, and I'm sick and tired of "loud pipes" rolling down Main Street, blasting ear-shattering noise off the buildings so that no one can even hold a conversation. Whatever your perceived need, you don't have the right to infringe on others.

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Oh God, I've had this happen any time I've been on Newbury Street walking around on the weekend (which isn't often). The bike guys come and REV REV REV because HEY LOOK AT US! No one likes you.

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Google the "Doppler effect." Cliff's notes version: Noise coming from a moving vehicle is loudest and most heard from behind the vehicle, and is barely heard in front of it.

Therefore, loud pipes do not save lives. Loud pipes announce "I drove past this spot already."

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Wrong. The doppler effect simply alters the frequency at which the noise is heard. Volume (dB) is determined by proximity to the source.

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Motorcycle enthusiasts aren't trying to protect themselves when they ROAR modified mufflers on empty late night streets. It's all about testosterone. Boston banned modified mufflers to reduce unnecessary noise pollution. If the BPD is going after kids on scooters, they should do the same toward grown men on motorcycles who should know better enough to respect their neighbors.

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Like most registered vehicles on the road, motorcycles have horns. The driver can sound their motorcycle's horn to make themselves heard if the need arises. They have the added benefit of projecting sound forward (see the aforementioned doppler effect post as to why its beneficial for sound to be projected forward).

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If you live in the city don't ever use the term "noise pollution."

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Nah, sorry, look - I live on a cross-street emergency route between a couple of neighborhoods. There are only two things that I can't hear the television over when the windows are open - an emergency vehicle with full lights and siren, and on of the goddamn scooters or dirtbikes from up the street.

When your unregistered vehicle can compete with a full-on fire truck, you're making too much goddamn noise. And also then can't hear me shouting "sorry about your penis!" out the window after you.

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sounds like these people are law-abiding, which is what he's trying to change.

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He's just throwing a wider net.

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Marty's on a roll!

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A licensed scooter means it has to be parked in CAR parking areas, and not allowed to park on sidewalks as scooters now do. So, thanks Marty, you will be clogging up car metered spaces with an abundance of pissed off scooter owners. Most scooter riders don't engage in dangerous tricks and for many it's the only affordable transportation. The thugs riding scooters dangerously won't even bother to get it licensed anyway.

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In fact, you are supposed to if it is under 50cc.

Over 50cc? Get a plate. That's the law.

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The Law is an Ass.

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There is a few criteria for the difference between a "motorized bicycle" (requires a sticker, allowed to use bike lanes, etc.) and a "limited use vehicle (LUV)" (requires plates, insurance, not allowed in bike lanes, can't go on highways, etc.).

The engine size is only one of them. 50cc+ is guaranteed LUV or motorcycle. 49cc *may* be a motorized bicycle.

The top speed is the other big one. Even if your scooter is under 50cc, if its available top speed is above 35 mph (as defined by the manufacturer) then it is an LUV. If it is set above 40 mph, it's a motorcycle regardless of engine size.

http://www.massrmv.com/Portals/30/docs/Limited_use.pdf

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So its ok to take up room on sidewalks but car drivers precious space must never be infringed upon? Do people have to install motors to their backs to finally get treated as well as cars do?

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It's the waste of it. If parking on the street is required, then every scooter marked as an LUV with LUV plates has to park at a meter. And the city regulations say that all vehicles parked on the curb have to park parallel to it and one per space. So, say a 50cc scooter owner parks at a meter in a busy section of town. And a car drives up and thinks it can park there because it's just a dumb scooter. They might wedge the scooter into the curb by parking beside it. They might pick the scooter up and dump it on the sidewalk and park in the space (scooters are not very heavy). They might miss seeing it completely and just back into it. And finally, they might go park somewhere else but come back just to damage the scooter for "wasting their time".

Also, a 50cc scooter has a footprint of about 2 bicycles. So, it's not like there's much infringement given that you seem to be okay with bikes parked on sidewalks.

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San Francisco has 'em.

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A problem with Boston vs. San Francisco is that, despite the fact that San Francisco's crime rate is at least double that of Boston's, Boston has a serious problem with scooter and motorcycle vandalism and theft that San Francisco just seems to not have.

I've known motorcycle/scooterists in SF who won't hesitate to street-park their motorcycle/scooter in San Francisco's worst neighborhoods, because they know they'll come back to their motorcycle/scooter upright, untouched, and in the same spot they left it. None of the motorcyclists/scooterists in San Francisco I know have ever mentioned anyone touching their bike, even in iffy neighborhoods like the Soma/Tenderloin intersection and the iffy part of the Mission.

Meanwhile, the motorcyclists/scooterists in Boston I know have had multiple attempts at vandalism/theft while parked in residential or otherwise safe neighborhoods, on private property, and as a result, many of them will not park where they cannot tie the motorcycle/scooter to a stable anchor with heavy, alarmed chains.

If the two-wheeled vehicle parking spots have anchors for chains, then that will be really helpful and I'm sure they'd get a lot of use. However, it's ridiculous to assume that someone is going to leave a vehicle worth several thousand dollars unsecured in a spot where it's likely to be deliberately smashed or stolen.

I do have a hunch that cracking down on these illegal pods of vehicles will probably also reduce the market for stolen motorcycles/scooters, but until then, people will be parking next to fences, poles, and other secure structures to chain up safely.

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Years back when the RMV came out with the new LUV (limited use vehicle) rules/regulations, there was a huge dust-up in all of the surrounding cities regarding this problem. If the vehicle is *plated* then it has to park on the street by regulation. Cambridge said it wouldn't enforce that at all and scooters could continue to park like bicycles. Somerville said the same and I think Brookline claimed they never allowed it (but I've never seen them ticket/tow for it either).

However, at the time in Boston, the mayor stayed quiet initially. So, LUV owners started parking around the Common before the morning rush using one space per scooter legally parked at the meters that everyone uses as a protest. Menino got his BTD head to announce that LUVs under 50cc would be allowed to continue parking on the sidewalks and that they would start testing head-in scooter/motorcycle parking spaces around Back Bay amid the parallel parked cars. That's stayed in effect to today.

So, your fear is unfounded.

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A licensed scooter means it has to be parked in CAR parking areas, and not allowed to park on obstruct sidewalks as scooters now do.

FIFY

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No chewing tobacco while riding motorized bikes.

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Doing wheelies stops being cool once you hit your 10th birthday. Hopefully this works because these inconsiderate losers are ruining parks and putting people in danger.

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Bucket list item: Someday, I want to be able to hold a wheelie on my bike, and I'm way past my 10th birthday. ;-)

Yeah, I know, not what you meant, but still.....

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My Grandfather smoked his whole life. I was about 10 years old when my mother said to him, 'If you ever want to see your grandchildren graduate, you have to stop immediately.'. Tears welled up in his eyes when he realized what exactly was at stake. He gave it up immediately. Three years later he died of lung cancer. It was really sad and destroyed me. My mother said to me- 'Don't ever smoke. Please don't put your family through what your Grandfather put us through." I agreed. At 28, I have never touched a cigarette. I must say, I feel a very slight sense of regret for never having done it, because the video in this post gave me cancer anyway.

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I have never ever been on the internet before. This is hilarious and certainly not old as balls.

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So you're plan is to take something that is already illegal, and make it illegal? Am I missing something here?

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Take something that's already illegal and start cracking down instead of letting it slide.

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I had a close encounter with one of these scooters, or weed whacker on wheels, today going very fast the wrong way down my one way street. I live in Roxbury and you can hear them all day and night. It's reckless and I'm surprised more people aren't injured.

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If so, then once I'm registered, no complaining when my kids and I take the lane for every trip at 10 mph.

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If you're a vehicle that's street legal, you can take the lane, whether you're going 10 mph and you've got your kids or your grandkids or your pet chihuahua or whatever. What are you going on about?

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that bikes should be registered to ride on streets. Usually, we share the road lane, if it's wide enough. If registration is required, I'll not share the width.

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Weaving in and out of traffic, blocking traffic, sometimes in both directions, on Dot Ave.

Popping wheelies, 3 guys completely blocking southbound traffic in all lanes on Morrissey Blvd

Speeding up and down my usually quiet side street.

For some reason this behavior has increased exponentially this summer.

Good luck catching them though.

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I'm betting that there is, given the number of "shops" that have been ratted out by neighbors.

My guess is that the city waited for the people most affected to get fed up enough to ask.

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"Ratted out?" Didn't know you were down with the stop snitchin culture SwirlyGrrl. So gangsta.

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I've seen the motor bikes around, but yesterday was the first time I saw the herd of wheelie popping ATVs. That was a bit much. This is a recent thing though. Where did they all come from? I don't recall seeing any motor bikes or ATVs in the streets prior to this year.

Also, I'm not so sure about the every scooter and motorbike being registered law, though maybe it's helpful. It is fairly common for people (especially in other countries) to ride Vespas and the like. Currently they can't park on the sidewalk because they're a "vehicle" and can't park in the street because they aren't registered, but they're too small to register. Where are they supposed to park?

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A few years ago, monkey bikes were all over Allston and Dot. Then 3 wheelers popped up. Now ATVs, because clearly a vehicle designed to be used off road or on unpaved tracks belongs on Washington Street.

I live with a shade tree mechanic who eyes these things wistfully whenever some new method of disintegrating your skull comes on the street, so I may be particularly aware. His center of gravity is no longer what it was when he was 17 and riding stuff like this himself. If he seems in danger of forgetting that, then I remind him.

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I live in JP and I've seen the ATVs riding up and down the southwest corridor park bike paths, blowing through stop signs at intersections and playing chicken with cars, for 5-6 years at least. The Washington St area and side streets around English High are full of them.

The mobs of helmetless (also illegal) wheelie-pulling scooter riders: The only place I've ever seen them is on Washington St near the E-13 police station and on Blue Hill Ave near the B-3 department. Seriously - right in front of the freaking police stations, as if they're taunting them. Why not just enforce the existing laws instead of ignoring an obvious problem that's been going on for years?

At least the obsession with 6" high mini-bikes from a few years ago seems to have subsided.

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-bike lanes
-curb cuts
-bus stops
-cross walks

All of those are are fair game.

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Spend taxpayers money on things that matter Mayor Walsh.

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And probably the year after that.

Meanwhile, the residents of the City of Boston are sick and tired of the lawlessness.

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These motor bikes have been terrorizing Franklin Park for nearly a decade. Zooming through a Little League game, around the basketball courts, over the fields and along dirt paths in the woods. Sometimes there are as many as ten in a group - the noise is overwhelming, the speed is frightening. They are not teenagers, but grown men. Please, please Mayor Walsh, get them out of Franklin Park and the bordering streets.

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They've been doing this since the late 90s. Boston is one of the first cities yo get involved in "bikelife". When I was a little boy it was Big. At least in Dorchester. Started in Nyc and quickly spread from Boston to Baltimore. Its much bigger and more serious in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Goes back to the DMX era

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This is a new racism. Bias based on vehicles having a motor or not, electric, propane, gasoline, french fry oil, or whatever energy source.

Bad habits start on bicycles and graduate to motorized vehicles like a gateway drug.

Otherwise, there is no need for a new law. The existing one is "driving to endanger" and a criminal offense. Oh, that might not be as effective for minors and illegal aliens with no driving licenses, vehicle registrations, or insurance.

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Obviously, tricycles are a gateway drug. For children to grow up as responsible adults, they should be given Barbie Jeeps or the equivalent, not some dangerous thing with an insufficiency of wheels.

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I went straight for the kick scooter.

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That would discriminate on the kids behind the bad behavior, so the new rules discriminate based on the vehicles, which is politically correct discrimination..

My point is that ON PUBLIC STREETS, bicycles also should be ridden responsibly. Off-road, with either, do whatever. Well, provided you have permission to use the property, with Franklin Park and golf courses in mind.

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Gratuitous attacks on cycling, gratuitous attacks on minorities, evangelical bike lobby, motorist uber alles, "they took a second lane on Mass Ave that never existed!!!!!111!!!!" ... Wow, that was quick!

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What are you opinions on laws that ban cell phone operation when driving? Do you feel it that existing laws for "driving to endanger" could be used for people that drive with cell phones?

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Distracted driving is more the severity from cell phone use than driving to endanger.

Even calling it that is a political uphill battle where the toe hold is requiring hands free conversations, much like conversations with other vehicle occupants. Can't easily pass a no talking rule in cars, can you?

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You get points for invoking "but look who the REAL racists are!" and taking a completely out-of-left-field swipe at undocumented immigrants, but if you want to troll with the big boys, you're going to have to tighten up your schtick, Markk. You're a one-trick pony, and folks are on to your bicycle antics, so you're going to have to branch out--you can't just keep upping the ante, because there's a hard upper limit to the gibbering insanity you can project around such a mundane subject. I admit, bicycles as a gateway drug shows panache, and it definitely escalates things into previously uncharted waters, but you may have painted yourself into a corner. What's left? Holocaust analogies?

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The anti-car bicycle agenda is an issue for me because it has robbed Mass Ave in my neighborhood of a SHARED travel lane to make bicycle-only lanes. For decades the mile of road has been perfectly fine for cyclists sharing with motorists adjacent to the Minuteman bike path prior to corrupt state policies demanding that motorist majority suffer increased congestion from the loss of a travel lane for the privileged use by cyclists as their highway. State policies are the result of the infection of transportation agencies by bicycle advocates.

They tried to claim crap about being for pedestrian safety but it was all lies. If they cared about pedestrian safety, they would have instead put in crossing lights at several crosswalks (69% crash reduction) or added more than 100 feet of raised median (50% crash reduction) in a mile or road. No. money was instead wasted to replace perfectly good sidewalk and widen it for some shrub planters.

So, yeah, Its a personal issue for me. I don't mind the cyclists so much as the cycling evangelicals, and missionaries of all religions have had some unwelcome receptions.

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One of them. That is all that area of Mass Ave ever had. I know because I used to live there and I asked why it wasn't painted into two lanes. Answer: it isn't two lanes, it never was two lanes.

Except now it is a car lane and a bike lane - so it gained a lane.

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I'm sorry Mark, I didn't know that the bike lobby had stolen your true love away from you. You'll never be able to hold her again, never be able to sink your hands into her shoulder as you thrust away furiously. Your one true love, your precious TARMACADAM gone forever. So tragic.

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IMAGE(http://www.saveur.com/sites/saveur.com/files/styles/medium_1x_/public/import/2013/rascal-house.jpg?itok=4UpjTcg6)

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Am I the only one who thinks this is extremely cool? And that writing legislation to prevent is a slippery slope?

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Stunts and racing is not for public roads with unwilling participants. Do it on closed race courses, closed parking lots, and closed airports. Sell tickets and videos to rent the venues. Same if doing bicycle, motorcycle, automobile etc. as the vehicle.

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Trail-trashing and tearing up parks is right out too. The parks are for the enjoyment of the public.

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the environmental damage they cause in parks, and the danger to wildlife. It sucks to see a bunch of newly-hatched turtles that have been run over.

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Do it on closed race courses, closed parking lots, and closed airports.

Please tell me where/how to do this.

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Google search on them. scca is just one of many that rents out places to race cars for autocross, road races, rallies etc.. There are motorcycle racing groups that also rent out spaces and get insurance. Probably also scooter and atv groups. You get to make friends etc.

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Seriously, how do you actually catch these guys? Do you really think they're going to stop when a cop sees them and tells them to stop? Uh yeah, OK. The second they see a cop, they're just going to outrun them and they can go anywhere.

They'll need plainclothes cops, anyway, and some way to stop them. Hopefully, we'll get a video of the whole thing, could be fun.

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If the mayor thinks he can prohibit by city ordinance what people can own/possess on private property, the City is going to have an expensive lawsuit on their hands. Hope all you people cheering for this nonsense are ready to have your taxes pay for that.

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That's creative

So, what kind of dickhead bike/ATV do you own?

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MP-5's in my house to shoot off in the backyard when I feel like it, does that mean the cops shouldn't be allowed to come in and take them?

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as to endanger the common good and general welfare of the city."

Try and argue that using cell phones when driving doesn't endanger the safety of the general public.

Had a van today that was inching in and out of the bike lane, shockingly discovered he was on the cell phone as I passed.

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the phone ban needs to include all vehicle operators, including cyclists, like the woman i saw steering her bike one-handed on the Comm Ave sidewalk so she could text with her free hand.

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We're vehicles too apparently.

But congrats for finding a cyclist that texts and rides. How many cars did you see on the phone during that stretch? Just curious.

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Not that I remember (this was last Saturday) on my short walk in the area between Babcock Street/BU West. Since I was only using the sidewalk it was the cyclist that attracted my notice. Not long ago I saw a cyclist in the street in the Symphony area steering one-handed so she could drink her coffee. Yes, my general experience is that such behavior is far more prevalent among motor vehicle operators than cyclists, pedestrians, etc., but I wouldn't call it rare among these other groups. I see increasing tendencies toward other bad habits we typically attribute to car/truck drivers among ,motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and T-Riders; my number one pet peeve being blasting audio from personal radios, phones, tablets for all to unwillingly hear. Since when is that acceptable behavior?

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... with cars on them.

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Man, this ain't my dad!
This is a cell phone!

- The Lonely Island

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Didn't think so. Or even drinking coffee? No, they are far better behaved than bicyclists.
You might see a scooter driver texting, but not likely on a real motorcycle.

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The city may want to consider another surprise visit to Castillo tire shop on Hancock St. in Dorchester. That place was shut -temporarily- 6 weeks ago as reported on this site.

http://www.universalhub.com/2015/city-shuts-dorchester-garage-was-repair...

I passed by it this morning. It is still filled with ATV's and other park destroying vehicle, and I regularly see guys ride in and out of there. Police is fully aware of it; I just don't know what it's going to take to shut that place down for good.

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they had a whole new lot of ATVs/mopeds/etc within a week after the raid. unless they magically applied for and received the necessary permits within a week - seemed like a pretty in-your-face f.u.

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I watched the video. These kids are actually pretty talented. Is there no regional competition where they can ride and do these stunts safely and off the public streets?
Instead of banning it let's figure out a way to showcase the talent and keep it safe and off the streets.

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Mayor Walsh wants to crack down on misbehaving scooter and ATV drivers, who he says have created "a notorious atmosphere of criminal and other disturbing activity so elevated as to endanger the common good and general welfare of the city."

Mayor Walsh wants to crack down on misbehaving cars, trucks, and delivery vehicles, who he says have created "a notorious atmosphere of criminal and other disturbing activity so elevated as to endanger the common good and general welfare of the city."

The awesome thing about these scooter acrobats, is that they are FOCUSED and paying ATTENTION.

I don't agree with them tearing up the park, but otherwise I condone their behavior. I'd feel safer amongst them, then I do walking around Back Bay and Fens.

And if Mayor Trashbag wants to have a Grand Prix, these guys are his people.

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Do Boston drivers run red lights? Only when the light has just turned red, or occasionally when the light is about to turn green and the driver is taking a left. I've seen these sophomores gun through lights that have been red for a while on Columbia Road.

Do Boston drivers go the wrong way down the street? Rarely, while these guys will drive on the wrong side of a 2 way street, right into traffic.

Maybe you don't want the mayor to do something that affects the quality of life of the city. Perhaps you want the city to be trashed. So be it. Thankfully the mayor wants to clean up the trash, and we thank his for that.

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People doing tricks, much like those driving fast are usually paying far more attention than the ones bored, talking or texting. Two problems though: tricks can go bad, and others get spooked by them and do dumb things in reaction or simply get distracted watching them instead of their own driving.

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The practical issue is not one of license or even vehicle type -- Boston streets are mixed-mode traffic. Rather, the issue is one of flow and predictable behavior, on which safety depends. When you're using the streets in whatever mode you use, you depend on other road users to behave in a somewhat predictable manner -- that's what lets you share the road with them without incident. The more they behave in unexpected ways, the less you will be able to accommodate them -- not because you don't want to or aren't willing to, but due to the, "Wait, what?" factor. Driving down a street and another vehicle comes down it going the wrong way, in your lane by definition -- there's a momentary "wait, what?" before you switch over to "oh, selfish shithead driving/riding the wrong way", and then you have to dig into your bag of tricks to deal with it. If you use the roads every day, you're used to certain behaviors and you can react quickly and safely to certain things -- a car changing lanes without signaling, for example, while a moving violation, is probably well within the realm of what you're used to dealing with. But someone blasts down the street in front of you on a quad, and all of a sudden the thing is cutting across traffic on two wheels, you're in "wait, what?" mode, and the outcome might not be pretty.

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What is unsafe are people getting lulled into zombie mode by a predictable environment which suddenly turns unpredictable.

When the environment is inherently dynamic like a rotary or roundabout, people have to be alert and the result is much lower accident rates than most other types of intersections.

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ban grown men from riding kick scooters as well, tbh

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News alert: No job openings for idiots who wear black bandanas around their faces in public and weave in and out of traffic doing wheelies over the speed limit. You're going to have to sell more drugs and shoot more guns to make your money. There. I said it.

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I suppose that you have never heard of stunt drivers? That's a job.

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I suspect there are fewer pro stunt drivers than professional video game players.

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These guys are absolute morons. They're going to end up on the trauma table in the emergency room using up public resources because they're idiots.

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