PAris is considering banning electric scooter rentals, warning that its fleet of 15,000 rental scooters has safety issues, stresses pedestrians, clutters city streets and has yet to prove its positive impact on the environment.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo is expected to announce a decision on the future of electric scooter rentals in the coming weeks as the three operators in the French capital – Lime, Dott and Tier – hope to renew their licenses which expire in February. Operators have proposed a range of changes such as license plates so police can track traffic offenses and identity checks to ensure users are over 18.
Paris was the first city in Europe to open up to the “self-service” shared electric scooter market in 2018, where scooters could be left anywhere and collected via a mobile app. Two years later, after complaints of lawless use, the city cracked down on what operators called the toughest regulations in the world: reducing the number of operators to three, automatically tracking and limiting the speed of each scooter. 20 km and 10 km in some areas, even zero. if entering public parks and assigning designated parking areas.
But a dispute is now underway in Paris over the future of rental e-scooters. Maud Gatel, a councilor for the centrist MoDem party, told a Paris council meeting last week that rental electric scooters had turned the city into a “jungle” where “pedestrians are afraid to cross a street or even walk along the sidewalk”.
David Belliard, the green deputy mayor for transport and public spaces, said all options were on the table, including a ban. “We still have three big areas of concern,” he said. “The first is safety: for scooter users and others, such as pedestrians.” His second concern was the congestion of the streets of the city, despite dedicated parking spaces. “There has been progress, but it’s still complicated: for example, in parking lots, we find electric scooters strewn on the ground and people forced to climb on them, including the elderly.”
He said there were also questions about the environmental side of electric scooters “which are slightly disposable and have a very short lifespan”.
He said: ‘If we can’t find agreement with the operators on safety, public space and environmental credentials, then yes, it’s very clearly on the table right now to stop the contracts.’
Belliard said Paris could survive without electric scooter rentals, citing Barcelona which had never introduced them, and towns bordering Paris, such as Montreuil and Aubervilliers which had no rental system.
But e-scooter hirers have argued that Paris has one of the most regulated, dense and widely used e-scooter fleets in the world with 1.2 million passengers last year and a 76% increase. new users between summer 2021 and summer 2022 – most of them residing in Paris.
Operators said banning rental electric scooters would not remove all electric scooters from Paris, nor solve traffic problems.
There has been a boom in French people buying their own personal electric scooters. In France last year, around 900,000 electric scooters were purchased for personal use, making it the largest market in Europe. Unlike the UK, which bans personal e-scooters on public roads, they are allowed in France but must stay in cycle paths, not exceed 25 km/h and carry no more than one person.
Renters said a majority of their users told them that if they couldn’t travel on a shared e-scooter, they would consider buying their own. The companies argued that private electric scooters were harder to regulate than tracked rental electric scooters. At 25 km/h, private scooters could go faster than Parisian rental scooters, limited to 20 km/h.
Nicolas Gorse, commercial director of operator Dott, said the “massively regulated market” in Paris was the most organized in the world. “There is no other city where you have 2,500 micro-mobility parking spaces, there is one every 200 meters in Paris. It’s an infrastructure boost that marks the massive transformation of Paris in recent years…including more cycle lanes, which aren’t just for cycling but for people using electric scooters.
Paris recorded 337 accidents related to all types of electric scooters and similar small electric vehicles in the first eight months of 2022, compared to 247 in the same period of 2021. In a high-profile case last year, an Italian pedestrian was killed after being hit by a rental e-scooter carrying two women. But operators say rented electric scooters account for a small proportion of the city’s tragic crashes and have argued they account for fewer fatal incidents per trip than mopeds or cars.
Garance Lefevre, director of public affairs at US rental company Lime, said Paris was one of the cities with the highest Lime usage in the world – with a Lime scooter ride starting every four seconds.
She said shared e-scooters are often “scapegoats” in the debate over how to properly reshape public space in the city. “Disposal of shared electric scooters will not solve the problem of calming shared public space,” she said.
Fabienne, 53, who worked in the media, had picked up a rental e-scooter in the center of Paris because her bike had punctured. “Paris is right to regulate more,” she said. “But there’s a tendency to blame it all on rental companies when it comes to the people who use them. Like everything in Paris, there is a need for civility.
Djemila, 58, a Parisian department store manager and cyclist, said: “A ban is a good idea because, while some e-scooter riders are serious, many don’t seem to know the rules of the road. You can have two or even three young children on it, having fun. It’s like a toy.