Since the Parisian ban on self-service scooters came into force on 1 September, its city hall has called the move revolutionary in “an urban jungle”, while stakeholders have remain divided on the pros and cons.
In April, 7% of Parisians voted in a referendum on the future of pay-per-use eScooters, with 89% voting for their removal from the streets. As of 1 September 2023, the vehicles have been officially banned, making Paris the only European country with such a measure currently in force.
E-scooters are responsible for an “urban jungle”, with “very abusive usage of these e-mobility tools [having] created a strong sense of insecurity,” according to the Deputy Mayor of Paris in charge of transport, David Bélliard, in a press conference on 31 August.
He continued that a ban was the right way forward because even with tighter regulation, Parisians felt insecure. Furthermore, he explained that it was democratic because “130,000 voters for a public consultation is a consequent number,” although this amount only accounts for 5% of the population of Paris.
Amid growing controversy and concerns around e-scooters, three of the main companies providing these services in Paris presented proposals to the city hall, but Mayor Anne Hidalgo ultimately decided to put future usage of these vehicles in Paris to a vote.
The ban covers 15,000 self-service electric scooters. Operated by Dott, Lime and TIER, they have been redistributed during the summer to surrounding cities.
Meanwhile, personal e-scooters are still allowed to travel in bike lanes.
Opinion remains divided
Mohamed Mezghani, secretary-general at the International Association of Public Transport (UITP), told EURACTIV that “there should be a choice of mobility options for everyone, and excluding one mobility solution from a city is perhaps counter to that approach.”
Bélliard refutes this argument, pointing to the existence of other mobility solutions such as buses, the subway, bikes and walking. He also expressed a concern that “e-scooters are not a relevant mobility tool as they mainly replace walking,” that they create disturbance such as traffic hazards and congestion, and were used mainly by tourists and not by Parisians.
The EU industry association Micro-mobility For Europe wrote in a press statement that “moving away from shared e-scooters isolates Paris from the rest of the world.” Deputy Mayor Bélliard confirmed that he is in touch with his European counterparts, who are all “facing similar issues that revolve around congestion of the public spaces [and] insecurity.”
Peter Staelens, head of mobility at Eurocities, an organisation representing local governments, explained to EURACTIV that “e-scooter usage has resulted in a recurring pattern of serious facial injuries that require surgery.”
While the ban will hopefully decrease the number of injuries, other stakeholders have concerns about increases in car usage.
Sylvain Delavergne, French coordinator at the Clean Cities Coalition, an organisation campaigning for zero-emission zones within European cities, explained that the Parisian ban will see car trips increase by 8,000 according to a 2022 study.
The ban is, therefore not a solution in his mind, as it will impoverish the air quality in the capital, which is already “responsible for an annual 2,500 premature deaths.”
Paris is now the only European city with a total ban on self-service e-scooters. Previously, Madrid and Copenhagen had similar bans, but they were eventually repealed. Barcelona has temporary restrictions in place and a decision on permanent prohibition or regulation is expected in the autumn.
Following the vote in April, an official joint statement from Dott, Lime and TIER Mobility noted: “We regret that Parisians will lose a shared and green transport option. The result of this vote will have a direct impact on the travel of 400,000 people per month, 71% of whom are 18-35 year old residents. It is a step back for sustainable transport in Paris ahead of the 2024 Olympics.”
An official statement from Bolt highlighted that Paris is taking a step backward: “Considering the potential of shared scooters to make a positive change in the city and the constantly evolving technologies that we’re using to make scooter operations safe for everyone, we believe that resigning from shared scooters would be a step backwards in building better cities.”
Meanwhile, operators look set to turn their attention to e-bikes to make up the shortfall in business as well as looking at other EU cities.
“While Lime e-scooters will depart Paris by the end of August for other cities in Europe, Parisian riders are already pivoting to our expanding fleet of e-bikes,” a Lime spokesperson told CNBC