E-mobility Providers Fail to Save Rental e-Scooters in Paris

Micro-mobility has taken a hit with the impending ban of rented e-scooters in Paris, Europe’s biggest adopter of the technology.

Parisians have voted overwhelmingly to ban the use of rental e-scooters by the end of this summer following three deaths and more than 400 serious injuries in the last year suffered by people in collisions attributed to the transportation. The move aims to put an end to the mis-use of the equipment largely by tourists and will not affect privately-owned e-scooters obeying safety and road regulations.

The BBC reports that nearly 90% of votes in a city referendum of residents cast on Sunday supported a ban the battery-powered devices. However, under 8% of those eligible turned out to vote.

There have been growing concerns about the way some people were driving the scooters – weaving through traffic, dodging pedestrians on pavements, and getting up to speeds of 17mph. I attended the Autonomy Mobility World Congress in Paris two weeks ago and saw many instances of the e-scooter being mis-used including two people at a time on a vehicle with helmet wearing by users rare in the extreme.

The other issue is that these rented electric vehicles, including rental e-bicycles, litter the pavements and street gutters because they do not have dedicated secure parking stations such as the city’s public Vélib’ Métropole bicycle sharing system.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo called the referendum, where voters could say if they were for or against free-floating e-scooters. The pro-cycling Socialist leader supported a ban and announced the vote in January to allow the people to decide. “I’m committed to respecting the choice of voters, purely and simply,” she said at the voting booth. “It’s very expensive, five euros ($5.40) for 10 minutes, it’s not very sustainable and, above all, it’s the cause of a lot of accidents.”

Three of the top rental brands, Lime, Dott and Tier, feared younger users would not bother to vote and so waged a social media campaign in favor of the technology while also offering free rides on voting day.

One of the technology’s biggest challenges is that regulations are not being enforced by an over-stretched city police authority so laws introduced in 2019, including a requirement to wear high visibility clothing and not ride against the traffic flow with fines of €135 ($146), and up to €1,500 for going over the speed limit, go unheeded. Another fine of €35 for parking dockless scooters on sidewalks is also seldom imposed.

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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