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Paris e-scooter operators unveil new safety measures in bid to avoid ban

Faced with the possibility that the Paris mayor will ban the devices, the city's three electric scooter hire operators have announced new plans for making the devices safer and more sustainable.

Paris e-scooter operators unveil new safety measures in bid to avoid ban
Dott, TIER and Lime electric scooters in Paris (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Electric scooter rental operators in Paris unveiled “strong improvements” to enhance safety and sustainability.

The heads of the city’s three e-scooter operators – Lime, Dott, and Tier – are hoping new measures will encourage the city to keep the controversial electric scooter rental fleets.

Paris city hall has floated the idea of not renewing contracts for the scooter rental companies, which are set to expire in February 2023, due to safety concerns. 

“Shared e-scooters now offer an efficient, highly regulated transport service which is being used by hundreds of thousands of Parisians. We have listened to the requests from the City of Paris and believe that we have provided robust and effective responses,” said the CEOs of the three companies, in a joint statement shared with The Local.

In September, Paris’ town hall asked the three scooter operators to develop measures that would make the devices more safe, sustainable, and better integrated into the public space. 

On Thursday, the companies revealed their proposed measures:

  • Extending age verification tools to the entirety of the city’s scooter fleet by Monday, November 28th.
  • Adding vehicle registration plates to all scooters to increase rider accountability. This would facilitate better enforcement of traffic and highway code violations, according to the companies. through easier reporting of highway code violations
  • Banning offenders – this would constitute removing users who repeatedly violate the highway code.
  • Funding an experiment using camera technology to detect highway code violations
  • Testing sidewalk detection technology to prevent pavement riding
  • An education campaign (produced by all three operators) to raise awareness of highway code laws and responsible use
  • Creating of a ‘micro-mobility observatory’ to produce independent data on uses and accidents, which would then be shared with city authorities
  • Using technology to prevent overfilled parking spots and doubling the number of patrollers to move vehicles from full spaces
  • Financing infrastructure which benefits e-scooter users by increasing the fee paid to the City of Paris
  • Creating price incentives to encourage users to choose walking over very short trips
  • Financing the long-term rental of adapted e-scooters for disabled users in collaboration with OMNI (a company specialised in developping accessible transportation options for disabled people)

According to reporting by AFP, Paris’ Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, has been considering a ban on the devices in the wake of a recent electric scooter related death. The city counted 22 scooter-related deaths in the last year – a sharp increase from seven deaths in 2020.

Readers of The Local also weighed in, giving their opinions in THIS reader survey. Overall, over 80 percent of respondents supported banning the devices, primarily due to concerns around safety and enforcement of traffic violations, such as scooter users riding them on the sidewalks or parking them in inappropriate locations.

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

Nevertheless – some Paris residents are fans of zippy devices, viewed by many as an environmentally-friendly transportation alternative. In light of the e-scooter rental schemes being potentially banned, those who support keeping the devices put together an online petition to encourage city hall not to ban them. As of Thursday, it had almost 20,000 signatures. 

READ MORE: The 10 problems with Paris transport system France’s ex-PM must deal with

“We have no doubt that Paris will maintain its leadership in the fight against pollution and the promotion of sustainable transport,” said the leaders of the three companies in their statement. “We are not preparing for a ban, which would be a step backwards when other major global capitals are making this type of service permanent.”

The Paris town hall will announce a decision on the future of e-scooter rental schemes “in the coming weeks.” 

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POLITICS

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

French President Emmanuel Macron criticised Twitter's new boss Elon Musk on Thursday, saying the entrepreneur was wrong to drop the fight against Covid disinformation as he slashes back content moderation on the platform.

Macron calls for stricter Twitter controls on Covid disinformation

With his country facing a fresh surge in coronavirus infections, Macron said the subject of misleading Covid information should be addressed head on, not swept under the rug.

“I think this is a big issue,” Macron, on a state visit to the United States, told broadcaster ABC. “What I push very much, for one, is exactly the opposite: more regulation.”

He said such protections have been implemented and enforced in France and “at the European level.”

Freedom of expression remains paramount, Macron insisted, “but there is responsibilities and limits” to what can be written and disseminated.

“You cannot go into the streets and have a racist speech or anti-Semitic speech,” the French leader said. “You cannot put at risk the life of somebody else. Violence is never legitimate in democracy.”

Macron’s concept of freedom of expression within acceptable limits is far from the libertarian approach of Musk, a self-described “free speech absolutist” who has sacked many of the Twitter employees tasked with content moderation.

Musk has begun to allow Twitter users banned from the platform for posting disinformation, such as former US president Donald Trump, to return.

And it emerged this week that Twitter has stopped enforcing a rule preventing users from sharing misleading information about Covid-19 and vaccine effectiveness.

The billionaire Musk has made no secret of his fierce opposition to health restrictions put in place to fight the pandemic, especially when they meant the temporary shuttering of his Tesla electric vehicle factory in California.

“To say that they can not leave their house and they will be arrested if they do… this is fascist. This is not democratic, this is not freedom,” Musk raged in April 2020 on a conference call with analysts.

On Wednesday the European Union issued a sharp warning to Musk, saying he must do “significantly” more to fight disinformation, such as reinforcement of content moderation, in order to comply with EU law.

“There is still huge work ahead” for Twitter, said Thierry Breton, the EU commissioner for the internal market.

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