Electric scooters seem to be here to stay. More and more citizens are using them as a means of individual transport. They are fast, versatile and quiet, in addition to a powerful weapon to fight against environmental pollution. However, the proliferation of rental companies for this type of vehicle has become a serious problem for many cities. It is common to find them lying on the sidewalks, obstructing the passage of pedestrians, or those who abuse them by driving at high speed on the sidewalks.
The Parisians have said enough. In a pioneering referendum in Europe, the city council submitted to a popular vote on Sunday the possibility of evicting electric scooter rental companies from the city. And the result leaves no doubt: 90% of voters are in favor may they disappear from the streets forever. Of course: the turnout was very low: barely 103,000 people out of the 1.3 million registered for the consultation voted.
Currently, three electric scooter rental companies operate in the French capital: the American Lime, the French Dott and the German Tier, with a total fleet of 15,000 vehicles. Everyone’s contract ends on August 31, so this spring was the perfect time to transfer that debate to the public.
“Dangerous” and “non-ecological”
Among the factors that have played a decisive role in tipping the balance in favor of no, is the high number of accidents in which this type of vehicle has been involved. In 2022, there were three dead and 459 injured in more than 400 accidents, according to police data. The balance sheet has been growing for three years.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, he had promised to respect the outcome of the consultation, whatever it was. Despite the fact that his mandate has been characterized by a fierce defense of sustainable mobility (his policies promoting bicycles and impediments to the circulation of cars have been exemplary for other European capitals), for some time he has opposed openly to these companies. The reason? He considers electric scooters dangerous, not very ecological given the short life of their lithium batteries and a source of conflict in public spaces, especially with pedestrians.
Now, the Parisians seem to agree with Hidalgo. And they did so despite the intense and costly campaign launched by Lime, Dott and Tier, who even went so far as to rely on some of the most popular local influencers to vote in favor of staying in the city, with el hashtag #SauveTaTrott (“Save your scooter”, in French). It did not work.
Of course, the vote does not affect the private electric scooters which can continue to be used freely in the streets of Paris. From next summer, they will do it in streets that are much emptier of this type of vehicle.