Paris bans rental e-scooters.

Paris bans rental e-scooters.

Paris Implements Outright Ban on E-Scooters: A Chaotic Love Story

Paris, the City of Light, has made headlines by becoming one of the first European cities to implement an outright ban on rented e-scooters. The decision comes after a referendum in which almost 90% of voters favored the ban. Despite the low voter turnout of only 7.5%, Mayor Anne Hidalgo celebrated the victory as a win for democracy and promised to enforce the verdict.

The ban specifically targets rental e-scooters from three licensed companies operating in Paris: Tier, Dott, and Lime. With a combined fleet of approximately 15,000 e-scooters, these micro-mobility companies have until September 1st to remove their trottinettes from the streets. However, private e-scooters and shared e-bikes are unaffected by the ban.

Paris was an early adopter of shared e-scooters in 2018 as a promising climate-friendly alternative to cars. However, the influx of e-scooters soon led to chaos and misuse. Users, including tourists, abandoned scooters on sidewalks, rode them recklessly in crowded areas, and even dumped them into the River Seine. Such misuse resulted in injuries and, unfortunately, a few fatalities, primarily among pedestrians.

In response to the chaos, Mayor Hidalgo pledged to enforce stricter regulations, including speed limits and cracking down on reckless riding and improper disposal of scooters. In 2019, the French government integrated e-scooters into the national highway code, adopting countrywide rules. The city also limited the number of e-scooter operators to three companies and set a cap of 15,000 scooters in total. Despite these regulations, problems persisted, leading to the April 2023 referendum, resulting in the prohibition of shared e-scooters in Paris.

While cities like Madrid and Copenhagen have previously introduced restrictions on e-scooters, outright bans by cities that have previously welcomed them are rare. Dott, one of the affected companies, stated that the situation in Paris is isolated, with other European centers doubling down on their commitments to this mode of transport. Lyon, for example, recently committed to a four-year contract for e-scooters. London extended their trial by another three years, and Madrid committed to a three-year contract following a tender process.

Now, with the ban in place, the three companies—Dott, Tier, and Lime—will redirect their efforts towards e-bikes, aiming to fill the gap in the market left by the departing trottinettes. Even before e-scooters were banned in Paris, operators reported healthy growth in their e-bike businesses. Dott, for instance, experienced a 166% boost in e-bike rides in the first half of this year. Lime also saw a 73% increase in e-bike journeys in the capital last year.

While ebikes can also clutter pavements and pose hazards to pedestrians, they are generally perceived as safer, although that may not always be the case. The long-term impact of the ban on commuters is yet to be seen. It’s possible that Paris may overturn the ban in the future, as Madrid and Copenhagen have done. But for now, it’s time to bid au revoir to the fleets of brightly colored trottinettes that once filled the streets of the French capital. Parisians and visitors alike will need to adapt and explore alternative modes of transportation, hopefully finding a new, more orderly love story on their urban journeys.