Today, Paris became one of the first European cities to introduce a total ban on rented e-scooters after residents previously voted overwhelmingly in favor of the proposal.
A referendum in April gave voters a choice: “for” or “against” a citywide ban on e-scooter sharing. Almost 90% voted in favor of the ban, but turnout overall was low – only 7.5% of eligible voters cast their ballots. Still, the result was Mayor Anne Hidalgo hailed the decision as a victory for democracy and promised to enforce the verdict.
The ban applies to rental e-scooters (so-called scooters in French) from the three companies licensed to operate in Paris – Tier, Dott and Lime. These micro-mobility companies, who together have a fleet of around 15,000 e-scooters in the city, have until tomorrow (September 1st) to get their scooters off the streets.
The ban will not affect shared e-bike services in the city. The ban will also not prohibit people from zipping around Paris in private vehicles scooters.
A Dott spokesman told TNW that by August 21, its fleet of 5,000 e-scooters had already been cleared of the sidewalks and alleys of Paris. The The machines will be shipped to other places where Dott sees high demand, such as Belgium or even Tel Aviv. Tier will ship most of its scooters back to Germany or Warsaw, while Lime will ship them to Lille, London, Copenhagen and cities in Germany.
A love-hate relationship
Paris was one of the first providers of shared e-scooters back in 2018. Renting e-scooters without a dock via an app has been touted as a promising climate-friendly alternative to the car for a city that needed to reduce pollution and free up space.
However, the influx of these scooters soon wreaked havoc, as many users, including tourists, left them on sidewalks, drove recklessly through crowded areas, and even dumped them in the Seine. This abuse also resulted in injuries and some fatalities, mostly among pedestrians.
In response, Mayor Hidalgo promised tougher regulations, including speed limits and tackling reckless driving and improper disposal of scooters. In 2019, the French government integrated e-scooters into the national road traffic code, introducing country-wide rules.
The city then limited the number of e-scooter operators to three companies — Tier, Dott, and Lime — and capped 15,000 scooters total. Despite the regulations, problems persisted, eventually leading to the April 2023 referendum and ban on e-scooter sharing in the City of Light.
Paris isn’t the first city to introduce restrictions on scooters, such as speed limits and parking zones enforced by fines for users.
Madrid this year lifted an earlier ban on allowing rental companies again new conditions, as will Copenhagen in 2021. Most e-scooters are banned on public roads in the Netherlands. However, outright bans by cities that have previously allowed them are rare.
Dott’s spokesman said: “The situation in Paris is isolated.” Several European centers are redoubling their commitment to this mode of transport.
“Lyon recently pledged a four-year contract for e-scooters, London extended its trial for a further three years and Madrid committed to a three-year contract following a tender,” the spokesman said.
In Paris, Dott, Tier and Lime will now focus their efforts on e-bikes to fill the gap in the market left by the departures scooters.
Even before e-scooters were banned in Paris, operators were reporting healthy growth in their e-bike businesses. Dott reported a 166% more e-bike rides in the first half of this year, while Lime said rides on its bikes in the capital have increased by 73% over the past year.
“We are now operating twice as many e-bikes as ever before and are encouraged by the city’s continued support for cycling ahead of the 2024 Olympics,” Lime said CNBC.
While e-bikes can clog pavements and pose a hazard to pedestrians, they are still generally perceived as safer may not be the case.
In any case, it remains to be seen how the ban will affect commuters in the long term. Perhaps Paris will tip it in the future like Madrid and Copenhagen did, but now is the time to try again TThe colorful fleets of the French capital scooters.