Paris Bans e-scooter rentals from French capital on September 1, 2023

Paris Bans e-scooter rentals from French capital on September 1, 2023

Parisians voted Sunday in a referendum to ban self-service e-scooter rentals in the French capital. While they have become commonplace since they were first introduced in 2018, a rising accident toll has hardened attitudes towards the “trottinette”.

Issued on: 02/04/2023 – 22:42

Results from the Paris mayor’s office showed that nearly 90 percent of votes in a citywide referendum had been cast in favour of the ban, a decision which Mayor Anne Hidalgo has promised to respect.

Self-service e-scooters have become commonplace on the streets of Paris since they were first introduced five years ago, but irresponsible use and a rising accident toll have hardened city hall’s attitude towards the popular mode of transport, which can be rented by the hour and picked up and dropped off anywhere.

When Paris introduced self-service e-scooter rentals in 2018, the city became a world leader in embracing the new mode of transport. The trottinette was billed as a green alternative to cars. Their adoption was spurred by permissive regulation and the rapid expansion of bike lanes in the capital.

But just five years later, Paris residents were asked to vote in a referendum on whether to ban the e-scooter rentals after a spate of accidents prompted safety concerns.

Walking home from a picnic on the banks of the Seine in August 2022, Justine Haley was crossing a set of traffic lights when she was hit by an e-scooter. “I didn’t see it at all and I didn’t hear it,” says the hairdresser in her 40s. “I just remember the power of the scooter hitting my leg, and I fell to the floor on my side.”

As a friend helped Justine get up, the driver who hit her stopped to ask if she was OK and, when Justine said she was, swiftly drove away. “She didn’t wait to see, and I didn’t realise how bad it was because I must have gone into shock.”
Incidents like Justine’s are common. Almost 500 people were injured in the capital by micro-mobility vehicles in 2022. At the hospital, she says the doctor who treated her was “really tired of it – I could see it in his face. He said he was dealing with trottinette accidents nearly every day.”

In 2022, deaths among e-scooter drivers and pedestrians hit by e-scooters increased in the capital. In France, e-scooters caused at least 27 deaths in 2022, compared with 22 in 2021 and 7 in 2020.

Even so, the scooters are still hugely popular. Usage soared in the wake of the pandemic, jumping 90 percent from September 2021 to August 2022. Each vehicle is currently used an average of 3.5 times a day ­in Paris – the highest rate of any city in Europe.

Despite the risks, citywide bans are rare. Barcelona is among the few European cities to have introduced and then prohibited self-service e-scooters altogether – a move Hidalgo now favours.

‘Not very ecological’

“They’re honestly not very ecological – they get damaged and they are left lying wherever,” Hidalgo told national television channel France 2 in January. “We can’t contain them in public spaces and they’re causing road safety problems, especially for older and disabled people.”

Safety issues date back to their bumpy introduction in 2018. “It was a mess,” says Erwann le Page, public policy director at Tier – one of three self-service providers (along with Lime and Dott) now licensed in Paris. “You had over 20,000 scooters and around 20 different companies operating them.”
The sudden influx of scooters – with no dedicated parking spaces and few rules around usage – caused chaos for pedestrians, cyclists and cars.

Since then, Paris has tried to regulate the issue. The fleet is now capped at 15,000 vehicles. Speed limits, fines for misuse and dedicated parking zones have been introduced.

The three providers – Tier, Lime and Dott – have also stepped in with technological innovations to enforce regulations. Geofencing, for instance, can automatically reduce vehicle speeds in certain zones and charge users for parking in undesignated areas.

With multi-passenger e-scooters now involved in one in five accidents in Paris, technologies are also in the pipeline to prevent two people riding a scooter at the same time.

The pace of improvement has been rapid and there is the potential for more, le Page says. “Our industry didn’t exist five years ago. The speed of improvements over the last five years beats 50 years of evolution of cars.”

But for now, problems still persist. Dangerously parked scooters are commonplace and accidents are rising year on year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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