France to ban e-scooter under 14 and fine sharply

The French government has finalized its national regulation plan for e-scooter users. As a result, the age to use an e-scooter goes from 12 to 14 years old, and the fines for e-scooter offenses go up sharply.

By doing so, the government hopes to reduce the nuisance of the mode of transport that has become extremely popular in no time but also evokes resistance. Paris will hold a referendum on Sunday that could lead to a complete ban.

Obligatory brake lights and indicators

The French government’s plan aims to achieve “reconciliation”. E-scooters can be an opportunity if adequately regulated, said Transport Minister Clément Beaune. Raising the age limit from 12 to 14 years should help achieve this.

The e-scooters – more than two million French people own one, and hundreds of thousand rent them on sharing platforms – must now have brake lights and indicators. So the fines will also go up sharply, from 35 to 135 euros if, for example, there are two people on an e-scooter or if you drive in a prohibited lane.

There will also be a national micro-mobility observatory to monitor the number of accidents or the environmental benefits of e-scooters, which remain controversial.

Charter of commitments

The ministry has also made self-service e-scooter operators sign a charter of commitments. Based on trust, it generalizes measures already in place in Paris and Lyon, such as speed limits in pedestrian areas, verification of the age of users, and identification of e-scooters by a small plate.

The charter adds a double kickstand to prevent scooters from falling off and littering the ground, as well as a five-year life expectancy for the machines and the recycling of their batteries in France. The operators also got the ministry to recommend a contract duration of up to two or three years.

Ban in Paris?

The tightening of rules in France is also partly because the number of deaths and severe injuries from e-scooter accidents skyrocketed. Thirty-four e-scooter users lost their lives in 2022, compared to 10 in 2019, with 600 seriously injured. In addition, the anarchy in self-service rentals is also causing tensions, especially in Paris.

A referendum is, therefore, on the agenda in the French capital on Sunday to decide thus for or against the 15 000 Lime, Dott, and Tier e-scooters being used there. According to the news agency AFP, Parisian voters are expected to vote against shared e-scooters, in the opinion of both the minister and the operators.

The operators paid influencers to encourage e-scooter fans to vote. In addition, Lime offered free minutes to registered users. The town hall, for its part, has launched a poster campaign.

Transport Minister Clément Beaune said he had not many doubts about the outcome of this referendum. “There is zero information, the arguments have not been able to express themselves, and there is only one polling station per arrondissement. I regret that this subject is binary,” the minister said on Europe 1.

EU no fan of prohibition

Regulations around e-scooters are also gradually tightening outside France, such as Rome, Lisbon, Stockholm, and Oslo. In Barcelona and Montreal, for example, they are now banned.

Karima Delli, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee, welcomed this “judicious choice of regulation over prohibition”, a clear jab at Paris’ plans.

The proposed plan “mussed however go further”, stressed the Green MEP, by introducing compulsory helmets “for all motorized mobility”, including e-bikes, and by better regulating the speed of micro-mobilities, “whether they are sell-service or not”.


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