Paris bans electric scooters after series of accidents

Paris on Friday became the first European capital to introduce a ban on self-service rented electric scooters after five years of concerns surrounding their safety and environmental impact.

The ban, which went into effect Friday, comes two days after a 12-year-old girl was reportedly killed on an e-scooter after colliding with a car in Chessy, a town in the eastern suburbs of Paris, according to the French newspaper Le Parisien. The city has seen a rise in scooter-related incidents since first opening up the European “free-floating” shared e-scooter market in 2018.

Sky News reported that three deaths and 459 injuries were a direct result of the mode of transportation in Paris last year — compared to one fatality and 353 injuries in 2021. Efforts to combat the dangers posed by the vehicles in France have largely focused on increasing the minimum age for operating the scooters from 12 to 14 and issuing heavier fines for traffic violations.

Ardent proponents of the ban — including the Socialist mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, who called for the referendum — argued that removing e-scooters from the city’s streets would reduce “nuisance” while David Belliard, deputy Paris mayor in charge of urban mobility, said it was possible to live in a big city without an electric scooter rental scheme.

“This is about our larger work to simplify, calm down and de-clutter the public space in Paris,” Belliard said.

Although nearly 90 percent of people voted in support of the ban, according to reporting from Euronews, less than 8 percent of people on the electoral roll turned out to vote, raising questions among avid trottinette, or scooter, users as to whether the referendum’s result was representative of the city’s stance on the issue.

The three major operators — Lime, Tier and Dott — who collectively provided 15,000 e-scooters to the city, will no longer be authorized to occupy public space with their devices, forcing regular users to purchase private e-scooters or seek alternative modes of transport.

“Rather than giving in to nostalgia, we prefer to look to the future,” Clement Pette, the chief of Tier’s in France, said, pointing to the promise offered by e-bicycles, particularly as the 2024 Paris Olympic Games loom.

A spokesperson from California-based Lime told CNBC that e-bikes were gaining increasing popularity among their users in Paris.

“Parisian riders are already pivoting to our expanding fleet of e-bikes,” the spokesperson said. “We now operate twice the number of e-bikes than we ever did e-scooters, and are encouraged by the city’s continued support for cycling ahead of the 2024 Olympics.”

The companies are set to redistribute many of the electric scooters previously in use in Paris across several other cities. Lime will send its scooters to Lille in northern France, London, Copenhagen, Denmark, and a variety of German cities, while Dott will expand its fleet of e-scooters in Belgium and Tel Aviv, Israel.

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