Paris has become the first European city to ban self-service e-scooters due to safety risks.
Electric scooter operators have removed all their 15,000 vehicles from the streets of Paris following a controversial public vote.
Five years after it become the first city in Europe to open to the e-scooter market, the French capital has also become the first to end the experiment after residents voted to ban e-scooters in an April referendum with a 7.5 per cent turnout.
Since 2018 the service has become very popular, particularly with those under 35. However, it also faced strong criticism, as the vehicles were often left discarded on the streets, blocking pavements and stressing pedestrians. In 2022 alone, the Paris police reported 400 accidents involving e-scooters.
The city’s authorities attempted to address the issue in 2020, issuing strict e-scooter legislation, which limited the number of operators and automatically tracked speeds. However, it was not enough to convince its residents, with 90 per cent voting to ban them.
Anne Hidalgo, Paris’ mayor, had campaigned against scooters, saying she believed removing the vehicles would reduce “nuisance”.
David Belliard, the Green deputy mayor in charge of transport and public spaces, added: “We know that it’s possible to live in a big city without an electric scooter rental scheme … This is about our larger work to simplify, calm down and de-clutter the public space in Paris.”
Following the vote, Paris’ e-scooter operators – Lime, Tier and Dott – were given until 1 September 2023 to remove the vehicles from the city’s streets.
Some of the e-scooters will remain in the wider Île-de-France region around Paris, where they are still allowed, the operators said. Meanwhile, the majority of the vehicles have been sent to other countries. Tier has sent its e-scooters to Germany and Poland, with Lime shipping its own to Lille, London, Copenhagen and German cities. Dott has sent some to Belgium and others as far away as Tel Aviv.
The three firms will continue to operate in Paris, with their focus shifted towards e-bikes.
“Rather than giving in to nostalgia, we prefer to look to the future,” said Tier’s France chief Clement Pette.
A Lime spokesperson told CNBC that the company is operating “twice the number of e-bikes than we ever did e-scooters” and hopes the uptake will continue to increase ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Rentable e-scooters have been available in London since 2021 from the same three firms that operate in Paris.
Meanwhile, privately owned e-scooters are technically banned from British roads and public spaces, even though many people flout the rules. Private use was to have been legalised in 2022, but the legislation was delayed and is now expected this year.
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