Paris votes to ban rental e-scooters

Ban will not affect privately owned electric scooters, of which 700,000 were sold nationwide last year.

People ride an electric scooter by Lime sharing service
People ride an electric scooter by Lime sharing service, on the eve of a public vote on whether to ban rental e-scooters, in Paris, France, April 1, 2023 [Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters]

Parisians have voted overwhelmingly to ban electric scooters from the streets of the French capital.

The ban won between 85.77 percent and 91.77 percent of the votes in the 20 Paris districts that published results on Sunday, according to the city of Paris website.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the consultative referendum as a success and said its outcome was “very clear”.

“There will no longer be any self-service scooters in Paris from September 1st,” she said.

The turnout in Sunday’s vote was very low.

City Hall said more than 103,000 of Paris’s 1.38 million registered voters cast their ballots.

The vote was called amid concern in Paris over hundreds of accidents involving the micro-vehicles, which were introduced in 2018 and can be accessed through smartphone apps.

Last year, the French capital registered 459 accidents with e-scooters and similar vehicles, including three fatal ones.

“We’re happy. It’s what we’ve been fighting for over four years,” Arnaud Kielbasa, co-founder of the Apacauvi charity, which represents victims of e-scooter accidents, told AFP news agency.

Kielbasa, whose wife, and infant daughter were hit by an e-scooter driver, added, “All Parisians say they are nervous on the pavements, nervous when they cross the roads. You need to look everywhere.”

There are at present three operators of the vehicles in Paris. They are California-based Lime, Amsterdam-based Dott, and Berlin-based Tier.

Mayor Hidalgo is now expected not to renew contracts for the operators from August 31. The current contracts will run until September 2023.

When they entered the market, operators were offered a three-year contract, which required that scooters’ speed be capped at 20kmph (12.5mph), with designated parking areas.

Operators like Lime – who contend they are being unfairly singled out as responsible for the often chaotic nature of Paris streets – had offered further regulations, including fixing licence plates, and ensuring the riders are above 18 so police could identify traffic offenders and limit usage to one passenger.

Lime and Tier sent free voucher codes to users and employed online influencers to persuade young voters to vote against the ban.

But such measures failed to convince residents.

“They’re dangerous, both for those who use them and for pedestrians,” Francoise Granier, a 68-year-old doctor who voted in the ninth district of the capital, told AFP.

“And the police never intervene.”

The consultation will not affect privately owned electric scooters, of which 700,000 were sold nationwide last year, according to the French Ministry of Transport.

About 100,000 journeys are completed each day in France on rented e-scooters in nearly 200 towns and cities, according to the ministry.

Montreal in Canada outlawed all electric scooters for rental or private use in 2020, while Denmark’s capital Copenhagen banned rental versions in 2020 before bringing them back a year later with stricter conditions.

Source: News Agencies