Electric scooters have been a source of controversy since their arrival in Paris over four years ago. And now, the residents of the city will have their say as to whether they want the controversial mode of transportation banned permanently. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo announced a referendum that will take place in April, following a review of the services by city officials. The results of the vote will be closely monitored not just in Paris but across the world, as Paris has become one of the largest markets for such services and has been a pioneer in establishing rules for e-scooters.
The rise of electric scooters was seen as a solution to the pollution problems plaguing cities like Paris. Mayor Hidalgo has been leading the charge to reduce and even eliminate cars from the city centre in a bid to create a greener, cleaner environment. However, despite the efforts of the city and the scooter companies to address the concerns of residents, scooters remain a divisive issue in Paris.
When U.S.-based Lime introduced e-scooters in Paris in June 2018, the city had no rules in place for such services. Within a year, a total of 12 scooter and bike-sharing companies had launched, but residents soon started complaining of reckless riders on sidewalks and scooters being stacked on random street corners. Paris introduced regulations in 2019, limiting speeds and granting licenses to only three companies, but the complaints continued.
Despite the efforts of the city and scooter operators to address the concerns of residents, e-scooters remain a controversial issue. Parisians continue to complain about riders leaving scooters on sidewalks, parks, and even throwing them into the Seine. The Paris deputy mayor for urban transport, David Belliard, has stated that the city’s analysis determined that the scooters do not make sense from a cost-benefit perspective and are both in the way and dangerous.
However, e-scooters remain popular among locals and visitors who view them as a low-cost, convenient, and fast alternative to the city’s metro, taxis, and car rentals. As a result, the scooter operators proposed additional regulations in an effort to address residents’ concerns. Despite these efforts, Paris officials were not fully convinced, leading Mayor Hidalgo to announce the April 2nd referendum where residents will be asked to vote on whether they want free-floating rental scooters to continue.