Parisians vote against use of shared e-scooters

As expected, Parisians voted overwhelmingly against using shared e-scooters in their capital: on Sunday, 89,03% were against in the citizens’ poll. However, the low turnout was also striking. Only just over 100 000 people, or 7,46% of Parisians, had registered for the referendum.

So from 1 September, shared e-scooters will disappear from the Paris streets where they were introduced in 2018, although personal e-scooters will still be possible. It will thus become the first European capital to ban shared e-scooters completely.

15 000 devices off the street

The Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, had pledged “to respect the result purely and simply”. She had campaigned for the “no” vote, stressing that the removal of these shared e-scooters would reduce “the nuisance” on the pavement and the streets of her city.

“On 1 September, there will be no more shared e-scooters in Paris,” confirmed Hidalgo on Sunday when she announced the results in the evening. Within five months, the city will thus cancel contracts with the three private operators of the e-scooter-sharing platforms, Dott, Lime, and Tier Mobility, which account for some 15 000 devices.

“We are satisfied” with the vote, responded Arnaud Kielbasa, co-founder of Apacauvi. This association advocates for victims of e-scooter accidents – there were 408 e-scooter accidents in Paris in 2022, with three people dying and 459 injured. For Kielbasa, “shared e-scooters service is highly accident-prone and highly polluting”, and “incompatible with densely populated cities like Paris”.

On the other hand, opponents of the referendum did not run high with the low turnout. “Parisians have shown their deep disinterest in the vote (…) organized by Anne Hidalgo.” The e-scooter operators lamented that the elections were organized only in 20 places in the capital and had vainly demanded an electronic vote, more mobilizing among young people, their primary clientele.

City loses €1 million in revenues

According to them, the outcome of the vote will directly impact the travel of 400 000 people a month. The three operators had tried everything to escape the ban, fearing it would send a negative signal to medium-sized cities that are reluctant to allow this transport service, including controversial methods such as offering a free ride on Sunday and using influencers on social media to engage their young customer base.

Operators have also warned of the economic impact of the ban. E-scooter rental activity in Paris represents 800 jobs. But the ban will also affect the city’s finances, as the three operators paid it some 930 000 euros annually.

Other cities preceded Paris

Paris is not the first city to take the measure to ban shared e-scooters, although the French government had just finalized its national regulation plan for e-scooter users. Montreal put an end to the experiment in February 2020 because of the users’ lack of respect for the regulations.

Barcelona has also banned the rental of e-scooters on public roads. Copenhagen also banned them in October 2020 but later came back on its decision. They are now allowed again, but shared e-scooters are almost absent from the city center because they are not allowed to park there. The use conditions are drastic (helmets must be worn, dedicated parking spaces, etc.).

Oslo and Stockholm also acted in 2021, sharply reducing the number of vehicles on the road. In Oslo, the use of shared e-scooters is also banned at night. And Lisbon introduced tougher new rules in March, including a 20 kph speed limit.

Rome had taken the same decision, but the limit, planned for the beginning of 2023, was postponed indefinitely due to a resignation in the commission in charge of the subject. The Italian capital also plans to ban rentals to minors.

London allows shared e-scooters while it bans private e-scooters. The aim is to control the characteristics of the machines in circulation, which are limited to 20 kph and whose lights are permanently on during rental. You must be of age and have a driver’s license to rent them.

In New York, the minimum age is 16, compared to 14 in Berlin. Some countries also prohibit e-scooters, whether private or shared, from being used on pavements. This is the case in France, Belgium, and Germany, but also in Singapore, where offenders risk up to two months imprisonment and the equivalent of a 2 000 Singapore dollar fine, or nearly 1 400 euros.

When it rains in Paris…

Belgium has had an age limit of 16 since last summer and a ban on riding in pairs (or more). There are also city-by-city measures (they are banned in Hasselt, for example, while in Ghent, they cannot be parked on public property), with demarcated drop zones for parking, prohibited ‘no-go zones’, and reduced ‘slow-speed zones’.

In Brussels, the new rules are still being rolled out in full, but in a comment in the newspaper De Morgen, Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt (Groen) said that “we want to give them a chance now first, but if it turns out that they’re not cooperative enough, we will consider a ban”.

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