In a blow to shared micro-mobile companies Lime, Dott and LevelParis voted to ban e-scooter rental from their street. Many in the industry fear the move in Paris, where free-floating scooters initially took off in 2018, will have spillover effects in other cities.
Paris is one of the most heavily regulated e-scooter markets, something the companies have pointed to as an example of how they can play nice with cities. However, even though the scooter’s top speed limit is as slow as 10 kilometers per hour (about 6 miles per hour) and requiring motorists to use a dedicated parking area or pay a fine, Paris became the first city to completely reverse its policy of offering contracts to sharing companies micro vehicles.
In a referendum on Sunday organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Parisians voted 89% against keeping shared e-scooters in the city. The three companies that pay for contracts to operate in the Capital of Light will have to pull their fleets — 15,000 e-scooters in total — out of the city by September 1.
Hidalgo, who initially welcomed shared e-scooters to Paris, has pushed Paris to become a more livable 15-minute city and spearheaded policies to recall car parking spots to Create new bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly areas. However, shared scooters have received a lot of protest from many city dwellers, who often complain about careless and messy driving on the sidewalks.
Hidalgo said Sunday that scooters are the cause of many accidents and that the business model is too expensive to be sustainable, with a 10-minute ride costing around €5. She also said the free-floating scooters are not as climate-friendly as she would like. At the beginning of the year, TechCrunch has dived into the use of scooters in Parisand many studies have found that while e-scooters are extremely popular, they are largely replacing walking or public transit, rather than using a car.
That doesn’t mean they don’t replace any rides. research from 2019 shows that 7% of kilometers traveled by scooters are replacing trips by cars and private taxis, a number that is likely to have increased over the years. But 7% is not for nothing, said Hélène Chartier, urban planning director at C40, a global network of mayors taking urgent action on climate change. Chartier was previously an advisor to Hidalgo.
“As part of the mobility package that Paris will offer as an alternative to the car, [shared e-scooters] Chartier said. “Without all the other problems, they might say, Ok why not? But if you add accidents, add difficulties in public space, then at some point it must be said that this is not the main solution. We should invest more in bicycles, e-bikes, walking.”
Low voter turnout
David Zipper, a guest fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Taubman Center for State and Local Government, tweeted that he was not surprised to see Paris vote against shared e-scooters, but he did not expect such a large margin. That sentiment has been reflected by scooter advocates and the companies themselves.
Dott, Lime and Tier said in a joint statement that low voter turnout affected the outcome of the referendum. Only 103,084 people turned out to vote, representing about 7.5% of the registered Parisian electorate. They blame restrictive rules, limited number of polling stations (and thus, long lines that discourage young voters) and no e-voting, stating that the combination “severely deviates from the order of the groups.” age, which has widened the gap between pros and cons.”
Additionally, the companies said the referendum was held on the same day as the Paris marathon and only Paris residents were allowed to vote, excluding those who live just outside the city but go to work. .
Operators offered free rides to customers who voted on Sunday and relied on social media influencers to try to get younger users to vote, efforts seems useless. Parisians said there was a high percentage of older voters queuing.
The referendum is non-binding, so Hidalgo could still make the unlikely decision of keeping scooters in the city based on low turnout. The numbers clearly show that scooters are gaining popularity. Lime previously told TechCrunch that 90% of its fleet in Paris is used daily. In 2021, more than 1.2 million scooter riders, 85% of whom are Parisians, have taken a total of 10 million trips through Lime, Dott and Tier. That’s about 27,000 trips per day.
The ban will not affect e-bikes offered by shared micro-mobility companies, which will remain in the city. Similarly, privately owned scooters are not affected by the ban, of which 700,000 were sold in France last year, according to Transport Ministry figures.