Paris threatens electric scooter firms with ban

Paris' electric scooter companies have been threatened with a complete ban unless they abide by a code of good conduct.

Paris threatens electric scooter firms with ban
There are 15,000 e-scooters in Paris. Photo: AFP

In recent years, Paris has seen an explosion in the number of companies offering short-term hire of electric scooters, known as trottinettes.

Lime, Jump, Wind, Tier and Bird are just some of the firms offering the dockless e-scooters, which users can rent for as long as they want via an app, and leave anywhere.


Many scooters are abandoned in inappropriate places. Photo: AFP

But despite proving very popular with commuters and tourists alike, the scooters have also thrown up a host of problems.

The vehicles, which can reach top speeds of 25 mph, are supposed to be ridden on the road, but are frequently seen being driven on the pavement.

The vehicles are also often dumped in inconvenient places, blocking paths and parking spaces and even being thrown into rivers and canals.

There are currently around 15,000 scooters on the streets of Paris, but if the present growth rate continues their number will soon reach 30,000 – which the Paris mayor's office said is simply too many.

The bosses of the scooter firms were summoned to the mayor's office on Monday to sign a voluntary 'good conduct' agreement for their business operations.

However, if they do not abide by the agreement, they could be facing a crackdown.

“The purpose of this charter is to regulate the use of scooters,” Christophe Najdovski, the man in charge of transport at city hall, told Le Parisien.

“We provide public space. In return, we hope that operators will find solutions in terms of both traffic and parking.”

However, the companies were warned: “If self-regulation fails, we will have to temporarily ban the service, until the LOM (the new transport law currently under consideration in the French parliament) is adopted”.

Although a cheap and environmentally friendly transport option, the misuse of the scooters – especially by people riding at high speed on the pavements – has become a major bugbear for Parisians.

When The Local last wrote an article on the subject of scooters we were inundated with comments from angry pedestrians, demanding greater regulation.

Carl Barry wrote: “I nearly got knocked down a few times by nutters bombing it down the street so I would definitely be happy to see them banned.”

Dari Brg wrote: “These things are way too dangerous on the sidewalk. They also have no change direction blinkers and that's dangerous too.”

While Madeleine Barchevska added: “First time users zoom along Paris sidewalks without enough control and knowledge of the 'device' and have close calls all the time.”

France has made some efforts to control the scooters, in Paris it is already illegal to ride on the pavement – punishable with a €135 fine – while parking in a way that will obstruct pedestrians or traffic is punishable by a €35 fine.

The French government has followed suit, and last week announced a scooter ban on pavements, coming in from September 2019.

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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.