All you need to know about driving a scooter in Paris

Driving a scooter around the picturesque streets of Paris can be the best and cheapest thrill the French capital can offer but it's not all smooth riding.

All you need to know about driving a scooter in Paris
Photo: Shawn Clover/Flickr
Oh the thrills of riding a scooter in Paris.
Being able to see new the far-off corners of the city, zooming up the hills of Montmartre, and using it for secret encounters with your mistress (as President Hollande famously did). 
But it's not all smooth riding. Here are a few practical tips to consider. 
Photo: AFP
Parking fines
Parking a scooter in Paris (legally) is no easy feat. The main reason for this is because there simply aren't enough parking places. 
Some estimates suggest there are 100,000 more scooters than parking spots in the city. 
And with a parking fine costing €35, it's not a mistake you want to make too many times. 
Where to park?
Look for a sign with a clear blue P and a picture of a motorbike, together with the words “2 Roues” (2 wheels). 
You can always leave your car in a garage (see more info here) but be prepared to shell out around €100 a month. 
And don't leave it in the middle of the footpath, in front of shop doorways, on man hole covers – you might find it is towed away. 
“Parking isn't generally a problem unless you leave it somewhere blatantly obstructing something,” says scooter owner David Chambers.
The lack of spaces to park has prompted motorist groups to stage huge protests in the past (see video below), but things haven't changed too much in recent years.
Getting towed
If you've parked illegally, the authorities might take your bike and charge you for the experience (on top of the fine and a few euros per day as a storage fee). 
But finding your scooter is missing due to it being towed is better than if its missing because of thieves. 
Be prepared for thieves
News flash: There are thieves in Paris. And not only will they try and take things from your bike, they may also try and take the bike itself. 
Invest in a proper chained lock to tie it to a pole at nights, otherwise you may join a very long list of people who've woken up to find their bike missing. 
A chain will also stop other moped users from moving your scooter so they can pinch your parking spot. 
French actor Gerard Depardieu in Paris on his scooter. Photo: AFP
Leave the inside empty
Don't store things inside the seat or the top case – especially not your helmet – as thieves may bust that open too. And accept in advance that the side mirrors may be broken or stolen for absolutely no reason. Sad, but true. 
One Vespa owner advised The Local to purposely leave the seat storage unlocked and empty so the thieves won't break the lock in a fruitless attempt to find your valuables. 
Get gloves
A recently-passed law means that from November 20th, it will be compulsory to wear gloves if you've got a scooter (or motorbike).
Failing to do so puts you at risk of a €68 fine and the loss of one point from your driving license. 
The move is strictly for motorists' safety, with the government's Journal Officiel website saying the move aims to “limit serious injuries to hands and forearms”. 
Bear in mind you're also supposed to have a high visibility vest on you that you are supposed to wear if you break down.
France forces motorbike and scooter riders to wear gloves
Photo: AFP
Get insurance
Insurance might be expensive, but as we mentioned above, there's a good chance your bike will be stolen. 
If you don't want to cough up the full insurance, get insured against accidents on the road, as the driving skills of people in Paris can leave a lot to be desired (scooter riders are often just as bad, to be fair). 
Lastly, insurance will be a saviour for you if you're unlucky enough to find your bike torched during the night, as 52 bike owners found this weekend
IN PICS: What's left after Paris arsonists set mopeds ablaze  Photo: Twitter/@Serianox_
Riding through the stationary traffic
Since February this year, it has been legal for motorbikers and scooter riders to ride through stationary traffic. They'd been doing it all along, sure, but now it's legal as part of a four-year trial that has also been rolled out in Marseille, Bordeaux, and Lyon. More info here
But bear in mind you might have to use your horn to get those pesky car drivers to give you enough room to pass.
Overtake at your own peril
Try not to overtake on the right hand side of the traffic, as passenger doors open far too regularly. 

Rent one if you can't buy one…
Of course, you don't have to buy a scooter. Cityscoot rolled out its fleet of electric scooters in June this year, offering those in central Paris their own scooter at a base rate of 28 cents a minute. 
Prepare for red lights
There are lots of them. And while cyclists and Velib riders will happily pass through them, often legally, scooters must wait for the green light (even if many don't). But police will be happy to hand out fines if they catch you.
You're not on a Velib bike anymore so..
You have to stay out of the bike lanes. Fed up with the lines of traffic, impatient scooter drivers in Paris often opt for the bicycle lane, but these, officially anyway, are out of bounds.
Enjoy the savings
With basic insurance costing just €40 a month, and with a full tank of petrol costing as little as €5, driving a scooter could end up costing you less than a Navigo pass for public transport. 
But remember, it can be a bit miserable in the winter or the rain.
Drive safe!

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Paris considers ban on electric scooters after pedestrian’s death

Paris has threatened to ban e-scooters if their operators don't enforce speed limits and other rules after a pedestrian was knocked down and killed by two riders who fled the scene.

Paris considers ban on electric scooters after pedestrian's death
Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP.

Some 15,000 devices are available for rental across the city, where they are supposed to travel no faster than 20 km/h with one rider only, and only on streets or bike paths.

Critics say those rules are hardly enforced, and abandoned scooters are often seen scattered on sidewalks and squares.

“Either the situation improves significantly and scooters find their place in public areas without causing problems, in particular for pedestrians, or we are studying getting rid of them completely,” deputy mayor David Belliard, in charge of transportation, told AFP late on Tuesday.

“Other cities have done it,” he said, citing the Paris suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux as well as New York and Barcelona.

On Saturday, police charged a nurse with aggravated manslaughter over a fatal collision earlier this month with a 32-year-old Italian woman living in Paris, who was standing on the banks of the Seine talking with friends when she was hit.

The rider and a passenger on the same scooter fled the scene and were found after a 10-day search.

The woman’s death, which brings to at least three the number of people fatally hit by e-scooters in Paris since 2019, revived the debate over allowing the devices on the city’s streets.

Belliard said he had summoned executives from the three e-scooter operators, Lime, Dott and Tier, telling them he had received “lots of negative feedback about scooters on sidewalks, the sense of insecurity, and scooters abandoned in the streets.”

Their contracts, which add nearly €1 million a year to the city’s coffers, run through October 2022, when they risk not being renewed, Belliard said.

He added that starting on Wednesday, operators must ensure that scooter speeds do not exceed 10 km/h in several “slow zones” in central Paris, including the popular Republique and Bastille squares, where the city has recently added large pedestrian zones.

Operators are able to install speed brakes that come on automatically if the scooter enters slow zones, which are programmed into the GPS units.