EXPLAINED: What are the rules on e-scooters in Paris now?

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EXPLAINED: What are the rules on e-scooters in Paris now?
Dott, TIER and Lime electric scooters in Paris (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP)

Paris residents voted on Sunday in favour of a ban on free-float e-scooters. Here is what that means for the city, and the rest of France.


Free-floating e-scooters are on their way out in Paris, after participants in the city's referendum voted overwhelmingly to get rid of them, the city's mayor, Anne Hidalgo, announced on Sunday night.

Around 100,000 people - approximately 7.46 percent of the city - voted in the referendum, with almost 90 percent of those votes cast to reject the scooters.

For some - the scooters represent a fun, affordable and environmentally-friendly mode of transport, while others disagree with their ecological merits, seeing them primarily as a dangerous nuisance. 

Here are the six things you need to know about what will happen to scooters in Paris.

When will the results of the referendum be applied?

Mayor Hidalgo announced that she would "respect the result of the vote". As such, the city council will not renew operating contracts for the three free-float e- scooter operators - California-based Lime, Amsterdam-based Dott and Berlin-based Tier - from August 31st.


This means that the scooters will continue to be available for use in the city until August 31st (for the next five months), but "on September 1st, there will be no more free-float e-scooters in Paris", Hidalgo clarified.

Does the vote only apply to the city of Paris?

As the referendum only focused on the city of Paris, the results will not impact the surrounding suburbs. This means that you may be able to hire an e-scooter from a neighbouring suburb, but you will not be able to hire one from the city of Paris. That being said, it seems unlikely that operators will continue to run operations only in the suburbs.

Other cities in France, such as Montélimar (located to the north of Avignon) have opted to ban the free-float devices, while Nice, Toulouse and Villeurbanne (near Lyon) never allowed the free-floating scooters in the first place.

There is, however, no national ban on ride-share scooters in France, the decision rests in the hands of local authorities.

Does the result of the referendum outlaw all scooters?

No. Private e-scooter owners - of which there are about 700,000 according to figures from the transport ministry - will be able to continue using their devices in the city of Paris, and elsewhere in France.

What about rules for e-scooters on a national level?

Paris' referendum on free-float e-scooters came just a few days after the French government unveiled a new regulatory plan for all e-scooter devices on Wednesday. The new regulations will increase the age minimum to operate an e-scooter from 12 to 14 years old. 

Additionally, fines for riding the devices with another person on board will increase from €35 to €135. There are already rules in place on speed limits and where you can ride an e-scooter (eg road, bike lane or pavement).

"The explosion in use (of scooters) has come with an increase in the number of accidents. It's a cause for worry," Transport Minister Clément Beaune told a press conference, adding that one in five accidents in Paris involved two people sharing an e scooter.

The new rules will cover all scooters -- privately owned and free-floating ones for rent via apps such as Lime, Dott or Tier which are now available in more than 200 towns across France, Beaune said, adding that he personally was not in favour of bans on ride-share scooter schemes.

Some French cities had already taken on new rules, particularly regarding age minimums. In September, the city of Lyon announced it would introduce stricter rules for the devices, requiring that users be over the age of 18 to rent a self-service scooter. In order to enforce the age rule, operators in the city were asked to make ID scanning a requirement prior to use.


How dangerous are the devices?

According to reporting by Le Monde, electric scooters have been found to be significantly "more unstable and dangerous than bicycles".

Based on figures from the Paris police préfecture, electric scooters fall under the category of 'motorised personal mobility devices' (which also includes gyropods and hoverboards). In 2022, there were 516 accidents involving these devices, including 426 injuries and three deaths. In 2021, there were 402 accidents, with 263 injuries and one death.

Does the referendum mean 9 in 10 Parisians do not support free-float electric scooters?

Not necessarily. The referendum had a very low voter turnout - under eight percent of eligible voters participated, a point that has been criticised by those opposed to the results. 

Some city elected officials in favour of maintaining the devices argued that a 25 percent threshold of participation should have been required, but Paris' mayor Anne Hidalgo has said that the vote is a "victory of local democracy".

"Participatory democracy is much better than a democracy of opinion. More than 100,000 people [voted] - that is significant", the mayor said. Hidalgo added that the city will consider "reproducing this exercise [the referendum] every spring on a local issue".


The three operators of free-float electric scooters in Paris responded to the results, saying in a press release that they took note of the low turnout and that they "now hope for a rapid resumption of dialogue with the City Council in order to discuss next steps". Some of the operators also offer free-float electronic bicycles, which were not affected by Sunday's referendum.


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