‘Inherently unsafe’ – Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned

E-scooters - an essential new part of the Paris' transportation landscape or a dangerous menace to pedestrians and motorists alike? Readers of The Local weighed in on whether the city should ban rental schemes.

'Inherently unsafe' - Why Paris readers want e-scooter rental schemes banned
Rental electric scooters are seen on a sidewalk in Paris, on September 4, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

A menace to public safety or a handy to get around the city? As Paris’ city hall contemplates banning trottinnette (electric scooter) rental schemes, The Local asked readers what they think of these zippy transportation alternatives, and whether they should stick around.

Over 80 percent said they would be in favour of banning the E-scooter rental schemes, with several respondents focusing on how they pose a danger to both the riders and nearby pedestrians.

You can see the survey results below:

Credit: The Local, screenshot from Typeform

Of the 76 respondents who voted “Yes,” many felt strongly that the devices ought to be banned, like Alex Thanos who said that “they are dangerous to both users and pedestrians. The machines often litter our sidewalks and streets many users are lawless and put innocents in potentially harmful situations.”

Another respondent, Erinn Ma, said she was in favour of a ban: “Paris is a busy city with enough traffic issues and scooter riders are often adding to the danger by not following basic safety rules.”

Ma and Thanos may find common ground with Paris’ mayor, Anne Hidalgo, who was reportedly leaning toward banning the free-float E-scooter fleets, currently represented in Paris by three brands: Dott, Lime, and Tier.

The ban would not affect people who buy their own trottinettes, but would affect the fleets of scooters that are available throughout the city to hire by the hour through an app.

Despite the anti-scooter sentiments, these devices have risen significantly in popularity in recent years. According to data compiled by Euronews, “free-floating E-scooters [were] used by over 450,000 people in Paris in September alone.”

Some enjoy the devices because they are seen as an environmentally friendly alternative to cars. One respondent, Stephen Coulter from Australia said that “they create more transport options which are sustainable.”

Meanwhile, others enjoy them simply because they facilitate getting around the city more quickly, and they help to avoid congested public transportation. 

Gaël Grasset, who lives in Paris, believes the city council should vote to keep E-scooter rental schemes because there is “not enough public transport, too many traffic jams.” For Grasset, these devices represent “one of the few ways to get around the city smoothly.”

Thousands of Paris residents felt similarly to Grasset, and have signed an online petition to make their voices heard.

The petition argues that the E-scooter rental schemes are necessary because of difficulties “piling up in public transport, strikes, fuel shortages” and that it would be “counterproductive to take away electric scooters,” particularly as Paris transforms itself into a bike-friendly and less polluted city.”

One petition respondent said that as a woman, access to E-scooter rental schemes “is a very good way” to travel, “especially at night after work. Night time is dangerous, and what’s more it’s easy, less polluting, sustainable, noiseless, without causing congestion or emissions, I thought that’s all Anne Hidalgo wants for Paris.”

As of November 21st, the petition had garnered over 18,000 votes in favour of keeping E-scooter rental schemes in Paris.

But one primary concern of city hall is that as the scooters have become more popular, there has also been a rise in accidents and deaths. AFP reported that there were 22 scooter-related deaths in 2021 – an increase from the seven deaths in 2020.  

Like other large metropolitan areas, Paris is navigating the best way to keep both riders and pedestrians safe – including asking companies to come up with measures to limit reckless riding, according to AFP. In 2019, the city made it so that electric scooter fleets – or trotinettes eléctrique – could only be rented out by three companies, in an effort to better regulate the devices.

Paris also added E-scooters to the French highway code, making them subject to rules of the road including speed limits and a ban on more than one person per scooter.

Nevertheless, many survey respondents still felt the devices remained too dangerous to remain in use in Paris. In fact, 38 of the 94 respondents either used the word “unsafe” or “dangerous” to describe the scooters. Specifically, many readers noted the fact that riders often do not wear helmets and sometimes go on the sidewalk rather than the street. 

One Paris resident, Tad Frizzel, has had more than one E-scooter related accident, as a pedestrian. “The whole situation is a complete bordel [nightmare],” said Frizzel. “I’ve been hit by them twice in a single day!”

Another city resident, Sandra Polaski told The Local that “the rentals are used by people who don’t know/don’t care about the rules. They pose serious dangers to pedestrians. I don’t know how many times I have jumped out of the way of a young man riding very fast on the sidewalk.”

Some respondents also expressed frustration over the devices being left “in the middle or the street and not parked appropriately.”

Yet, according to E-scooter operators, this issue has been mostly remedied. About 96 percent of the devices are now parked where they should be – meaning most of them are not lying on sidewalks or impeding pedestrians.

On November 16th, Paris deputy mayor David Belliard, who has responsibility for transport in the city, said that a decision regarding the fate of electric scooter rental schemes will be “announced in the coming weeks.”

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Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Public transport users in the Paris region may be facing higher prices for tickets and travel passes in the new year, as the region's transport network attempts to meet €950 million in additional costs for 2023.

Paris public transport ticket prices set to rise in 2023

Grappling with rising costs, local authorities for the Paris region are considering raising the price of tickets and the monthly Navigo pass for the capital’s public transport system.

These new fares would come into effect on January 1st, 2023 – although local authorities still have to approve the price rises, which will be put to the vote on December 7th, and the government may yet step in to shield commuters from the sharpest increases. 

According to information leaked to French media, the cost of a single ticket – currently set at €1.90 – could go up by 21 percent – reaching €2.30 in the new year. Paris runs an integrated public transport system which means that tickets can be used on the Metro, tram, bus or RER train services. 

Fans of the 10-ticket carnet could see prices go up to €20.30, a rise from €16.90 for paper ticket purchasers and from €14.90 for mobile phone app and Navigo easy users.

As for the Navigo pass – the monthly rail card – which will be the focus of daily transport users in the Ile-de-France, the region’s President Valérie Pécresse warned that it could jump from the current €75.20 per month to €90. 

Other travel passes are also predicted to see a rise – the weekly Navigo semaine from €22.80 to €31, and the Navigo annual from €827.20 to €990.

READ MORE: Food, fuel and transport: Which prices will rise in France in 2023?

The transport system is considering price rises because it faces €950 million in additional costs for 2023, as a result of energy rates rising and the fact that the transport system will begin owing payments to the French government on their “Covid loans” in the year 2023. 

While the increase in single ride fares to €2.30 could bring in an additional €500 million, the region’s transport operators would still be short by €450 million.

Possible outcomes

In order to avoid sharp increases to fares for passengers, there are three possible solutions that have been put forward by President of the Region, Valérie Pecresse. 

The first option would be a sort of fare shield. This would keep the price of a Navigo pass at €75.20 by relying on the State for various aids, such as transforming the region’s “Covid loans” of €2 billion into a subsidy, spreading out repayments between 2023 and 2036, and lowering the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 10 percent to 5.5 percent, which would bring in €150 million per year. So far these proposals have not been met with support.

The second possible solution would be a uniform increase of 7.5 percent from all contributing parties to the transport system, Île de France Mobilités (IDFM).

Currently, the IDFM is financed in 12 percent by the region, 38 percent by passengers, and 50 percent by contributions from private companies. If a 7.5 percent increase was applied across the board, the impact on passengers would be an increase in the Navigo pass to €80.80 euros per month.

And the third possibility, one that has been championed by Pécresse, would be to increase the contribution of companies in Paris and the inner suburbs to the ‘Mobility’ fund. However, this would have to be done by an amendment to the French government’s Finance Bill, and as of late November, parliament stood opposed to tax increases on these companies.

Without any of these solutions taking place, Pécresse has warned that users would have to withstand a 20 percent price increase, meaning a monthly Navigo pass costing between €90 to €100.

Pécresse has called this possibility “socially unbearable” and “anti-environmental.”

The Minister of Transport, Clément Beaune, told RMC on Monday that the ministry will to “everything to avoid an increase to the Navigo pass,” adding that discussions were still underway.

Meanwhile, the government spokesman, Olivier Véran, told France Inter that the government plans to “identify ways and means to avoid an increase as significant as that which has been cited” in discussions with the region.