Paris brings in €135 fines in battle against rogue electric scooter riders

Paris City Hall rolled out steep fines for electric scooter users on Thursday in a bit to crackdown on rogue riders, not least those who take to the pavement to avoid the traffic jams.

Paris brings in €135 fines in battle against rogue electric scooter riders
Anyone riding a scooter on the pavement in Paris now faces a fine. Photo: AFP

Electric scooters are taking off in Paris. More and more commuters are buying their own and then there's the highly successful rental schemes that have take off in the capital.

An estimated 15,000 electric scooters operated by several companies have flooded the French capital since their introduction last year, a number projected to surge to 40,000 by the end of this year.

The services, from companies like US-based Lime and Bird, have proved wildly popular in many cities, though critics say they have often skipped asking for permits.

READ ALSO How to avoid falling foul of Paris' new bike and scooter rules

Paris has also introduced fines for parking scooters in inappropriate places. Photo: AFP

Riders use an app to find the closest scooter and then leave it wherever they want – which is not always in a designated parking spot.

Often, they are seen strewn on squares, abandoned in front of buildings or clustered around Paris landmarks.

The French measures came into effect on Wednesday – the same the day that German ministers agreed their own rules for scooter users.

After German transport minister Andreas Scheuer labelled the two-wheelers a “genuine additional alternative for cars” in traffic-choked cities, the cabinet agreed that “very small electric vehicles” with a top speed of up to 20 kilometres per hour will be permitted.

Berlin is hoping the strict rules will help avoid the friction that has marked scooters' appearance elsewhere, including in Paris and Los Angeles.

In Paris, riding on the pavement will now bring a €135 fine for “endangering pedestrians, especially older people and children,” Mayor Anne Hidalgo's office said.

Parking in such a way as to obstruct traffic or pedestrians will mean a €35 fine – but the Paris city council has pledged to build parking spots for 2,500 scooters.

Paris will also start charging operators an annual licence fee of €50 to €65 per scooter, depending on the size of their fleets.

The nine operators currently in the city will also have to sign a “code of good conduct”.

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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.