Lazy eyes listen
The final of Paris’ 15,000-strong fleet of battery-powered shared e-scooters was taken from the streets on Thursday, ahead of a ban that went into force on Friday after the contracts of the scooter operators expired.
Paris, one of the first European towns to authorize two-wheeled rentals five years ago, became one of the first to outlaw street rentals after an April referendum revealed that 90% of voters opposed the cars.
Turnout was exceedingly low – only 7.5% of people voted – and the rental businesses complained about “restrictive voting methods” that were dragging Paris back into the dark ages of public transportation, despite the fact that the 2024 Olympics were just around the way. The measure, however, was championed by Mayor Anne Hidalgo, a Socialist and bicycle supporter.
E-scooters, particularly street rentals, which are popular with tourists and children (who could legally ride them as young as 12 before the minimum age was raised to 14 in March), have long been a source of frustration for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists alike, weaving through traffic, clogging pavement, and careening along (at up to 17 mph / 27 km/h) at speeds too fast for walkers and too slow for drivers.
There were three fatalities and 459 injuries related with e-scooter incidents in 2022 alone, an increase from the single fatality and 353 injuries in 2021.
The 2021 accident, in which a 31-year-old Italian woman was killed after an e-scooter carrying two people drove into her, drew international attention to the issue, even though ridesharing advocates maintain the scooters account for only a small percentage of total traffic incidents in Paris.
The French capital had already cracked down on scooters in 2019 and 2020, imposing built-in speed limits and tracking with fines of up to €1,500 ($1,617) for violators, requiring high-visibility clothing, limiting the number of operators who could use one, and fining riders who “dumped” the scooters in the street after use.
However, complaints about vehicular anarchy persisted, and Hidalgo reversed her support for rideshares, called the referendum in April and grumbling about how unsustainable, unsafe, and “expensive” they were at €5 ($5.40) for ten minutes.
Dott, Lime, and Tier, among the rental businesses operating e-scooter shares, are apparently planning to transfer their Paris stocks to other European cities with more favorable regimes, including elsewhere in France.