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Paris votes to ban rental e-scooters from September

Paris votes to ban rental e-scooters from September
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Monday, 03 April, 2023, 18:48

Paris will ban electric scooters from September 1, the French capital's mayor said, after the public voted to remove them from the streets – although e-scooter operators said on Monday they hoped to stop the plan.

The e-scooter ban won 89 percent of the votes, according to the city hall Twitter account, in what was billed as a rare "public consultation" that prompted long queues at ballot boxes around the city. But the turnout in the referendum was low, at 7.46 percent of registered voters.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo said she would respect the vote.

"From September 1, there will be no more electric scooters for rent in Paris," she told a news conference.

Scooter operators pointed to the low voter turnout and said they hoped Hidalgo would seek a compromise.

"We remain hopeful that we can continue to work with Mayor Hidalgo to adopt sensible regulations instead of a ban on e-scooters, and avoid a step backward for Paris," a spokesperson for the world's largest shared electric vehicle company Lime said.

A spokesman for Dott said the referendum was "heavily impacted by very restrictive voting methods" which led to an extremely low turnout heavily skewed towards older age groups.

'A massive democratic flop'

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune, seen as a possible contender for the mayor's post in 2026, said on BFM television the vote was "a massive democratic flop."

Electric scooters accessed through smartphone apps have operated in Paris since 2018, but following complaints about their anarchic deployment, Paris cut the number of operators to three in 2020.

It gave them a three-year contract, required that scooters' speeds be capped at 20 kilometers per hour and imposed designated scooter parking areas, similar to restrictions being imposed in other cities worldwide. The current contracts run until September.

Operators had offered further regulations, including checking users were over 18, limiting to one passenger and affixing license plates so police could identify traffic offenders.

In 2021, 24 people died in scooter-related accidents in France, including one in Paris. Last year, Paris registered 459 accidents with e-scooters and similar vehicles, including three fatal ones.

"In my work, we see a lot of road accidents caused by scooters, so we really see the negative effects," general physician Audrey Cordier, 38, told Reuters after voting against the scooters.

Some voters said they would prefer tighter regulations than an outright ban.

"I don't want scooters to do whatever they want on pavements, but banning them is not the priority," Pierre Waeckerle, 35, said.