Rental e-scooters have been banned from Paris since Friday after residents of the French capital were asked to decide their fate in a referendum. The vote, held in April, attracted a low turnout, with only 103,000 of the city’s 1.38 million men and women bothering to cast their ballot. Of those that did, however, 90 per cent voted to rid their streets of rental scooters.
Rental scooters were first introduced onto the streets of Paris five years ago amid much fanfare. They were, claimed the company responsible, California-based Lime, the environmentally-friendly future. ‘Very quickly our fleet will grow to respond to demand,’ claimed Lime’s director for France, Arthur-Louis Jacquier.
The American start-up chose Paris to launch its European operation because it regarded the city ‘as a pioneer for new forms of commuting’. Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor, was initially enthusiastic, seeing the e-scooter as compatible with her vision of a Green future for Paris. But there were a few voices of dissent from Parisians who had read about the injuries caused by e-scooters in US cities where the craze had begun.
Lime assured Parisians that their e-scooters, which had a top speed of 15 mph, would not be ridden on the pavements. Fat chance. As Parisians soon discovered, e-scooters were a menace, often piloted by aggressive, bearded, male millennials who regarded it as the height of amusement to weave their way at top speed along bustling pavements.
Other companies joined Lime in flooding the streets of Paris with e-scooters and there were 20,000 by early 2019. The number of accidents began to soar, prompting Hidalgo to take action. ‘I am asking the operators to limit the speed to 20 km/h (12 mph) around the city and to 8 km/h in pedestrianised streets,’ she announced that summer.